Marcus Aurelius, arguably the wisest and noblest of Roman Emperors kept a personal journal that has come to be known as Meditations. It is one of my favorite Stoic philosophy books of all time. It speaks of the vulnerability and the fragility of the human spirit and how to find the inner strength to stay on course that brings peace and joy to the soul.
In one such reflection, Marcus Aurelius writes,"Everything that is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself since a thing is neither better nor worse for having been praised. I affirm this also of the things that are called beautiful by the vulgar, for example, the material and works of art. That which is really beautiful has no need of anything, nor more than law, not than truth, not more than benevolence or modesty. Which of these things is beautiful because it is praised, or spoiled by being blamed? Is such a thing as an emerald made worse than it was, if is not praised? Or gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a little knife, a flower, a shrub?"
Every time I read this passage, it sends an important reminder to my soul that it has enough light of its own; that it's beautiful in its own unique way; that it has the ability to turn white light in a rainbow even though it may be missing some colors; and that's all right. Those who shower me with praise at times are themselves incomplete in many ways. So, how can their words of admiration make me complete? More importantly, how can words of criticism by the other mortals make me worse than I was before their sharp words were uttered?
Buddha, in dispensing his wisdom explained the concept of Upekshā or Equanimity as one of the states of mind that's a pre-requisite for inner peace. Guru Nanak, the first guru of the Sikh religion, gave the same message to the world by humbly accepting insults and praise, poverty and riches as God's wish. I believe it is impossible to reach the state of equanimity without first accepting yourself just the way you are. To be sure, both Buddha and Guru Nanak were mortals who struggled with their own weaknesses and shortcomings - at least in their own view. Just like we do. But they were able to make peace with their own shadows, their inner darkness. Once they recognized the cracks in their being, light was able to come through the same fissures. While only the rare can hope to achieve the enlightenment that Buddha and Guru Nanak attained, their message for the attainment if inner peace is simple. We are perfect in our imperfections. We are enough, just the way we are! Once we can love our own rainbow, as deficient as it may seem compared to that of others, it will acquire a brilliance that will fill our inner being the sublime light. That's my firm belief.
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