The Art to Be Different


Don’t listen to friends when the friend inside you says ‘Do this.’
— Gandhi


Introduction

In the present article we are going to focus with quite a decisive spell on our difference. We live in a culture that stresses uniformity and adaptation as the highest virtues of the good citizen. I contradict vehemently, and virulently, and since my early childhood to this defeatist worldview. In my opinion, high achievement and distinction never are the outcome of adaptation and uniformity but clearly of individuation and nonconformity.

International consumer culture that pretendedly stresses individuality so much as a base ingredient of democracy, is deeply hypocrite as it comes up almost every day with new devices for spying out the citizen in order to have us comply still more with the uniform rules of a majority that imposes their views in a stupid, rigid and absolutely undemocratic way.

If we allow international consumerism to transform all and everybody on the globe into obedient, socially brainwashed and conformist consumer slaves, we are done for the rest of human evolution! For if this is going to be our life paradigm of the future, we can safely predict the grave of human potential, of novelty, of human genius and creativity, of high-level achievement, of distinction and class — because all this comes about through humans who stress their difference instead of swimming in the lukewarm soup of conformity and uncritical consumption.

The present chapter is destined to help those who are seriously interested to develop their difference and base their success in life upon their uniqueness and primary power instead of letting others, their family or a community determine the outcome of their lives.

What I am going to offer here is something non-intellectual, something with little steps that every good-willed person can do, and that harnesses intuitive insight much more than your intellectual understanding. If you do not like to do all the tasks, do at least one of them.

The Art to Be Different

I do not want to bore you with psychological explanations, yet we have to dig a little bit into the stuff dreams are made of. To be different from the mass is only possible if you tender your own garden and find the treasures in your own soil. Individuation is a complex thing to happen. It has to do with how we have made our first steps and how far our mothers or nurses have let us go on our own — autonomy or else dependency are learnt in babyhood! The early years of conditioning have a strong impact upon our whole life. However, I do not agree with those who pretend that this conditioning could not be made undone or that, when it was negative, is going to spoil our life without end.

It is not easy to change, I acknowledge. I have gone through all that myself and talk not from a book-knowledge perspective. I am motivated to share my positive outcome with you and the world at large, for it has shown me that there are real possibilities of change, provided one is motivated to change, and persistent enough to get through the whole of the process of inner change and reconditioning.

Where do these difficulties originate from? First of all from the restriction of freedom. The human nature is basically built upon freedom as a motor for all living. From my experience I know that all that is forced upon the human nature cannot endure. All moralistic systems fail and have failed throughout human history. On the other hand, it is not easy to develop a kind of self-discipline that is not rigid, not judgmental and not moralistic yet effective and consistent. And yet without self-discipline and regular work, ongoing effort and high flexibility, nothing of value can be achieved in the long run. However, by applying the traditional rigid concept of self-discipline, to say it right away, the work I am going to propose here will never work! The secret of working on attitude is something like flexible persistence. Better to make every day one small step instead of a marathon jump once in a while.

The second secret on being different is acceptance! As Lao-tzu says in the Tao Te Ching, it is through accepting the world that the sage wins the world. It is namely not through conquering it, and not through opposing it, as most people today believe. Lao-tzu shows us the Tao or Way of being different and unique. This way appears to be quite paradoxical. It is by not trying to be different that we achieve to be different.

Originality thus after all is an outflow of spontaneity; it is born from a natural being at home in one’s own continuum, not from the desire to promote and display fancy attitudes and lifestyles so as to mark one’s difference. It does not originate from will at all. Attitude has nothing to do with will. It comes from deep inside, from a source where will has no influence. Therefore it is not possible to just wanting to be different, to just have a will to change the conditioning influence of our childhood. Willpower may trigger the change process, okay, but not more.

It is through understanding the process and practicing a deconditioning method that we can achieve this goal. Combining information and practice creates a substance in you that is living, and organic, while pursuing a rigid method kills the most precious in you rather than inspiring you and lifting you up. Every practice, if done correctly, is an art — an art of living, an art of learning, an art of growing.

Your Way to Be Different

Task One : Roadmap for Distinction

It is essential that you write your answers intuitively, without thought getting involved in the process. Try to do it with a playful, curious attitude and see what happens! You should do these tasks right now, as I did not include them in the worksheets below.

1. My top ten reasons to be different …

Write what you wish here and now. In which ways do you wish to excel, to be different from the herd, to be unique, original, daring and bold? Print this article out, then write your answers directly under the questions:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

2. This is how I value creativity and originality …

Write what you feel here and now. Even if you think you are leading a dull and boring life right now, imagine how different it could be if only you took the first step into being truly creative! Write your answer here:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

3. This is what I think about marginality …

Write what you believe here and now. Even if you always have been rather conservative and tend to avoid marginal people, try to see the value and the necessity of marginality, and your own intrinsic marginality as a unique being of light. Write your answer here:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

4. This is how I admire, adore and imitate others …

Write what you do here and now. If you like it or not. Even if you always have been rather anxious to do your own thing, try to honestly relate here how and why you think that others are always better than you. Write your answer here:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

5. This is how I differ from others …

Write what you know here and now. Get the truth about your uniqueness, your difference, despite the fact that hitherto you may not have considered this knowledge as something precious. Write your answer here:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Task Two : Attentiveness

The first task was a precise activity that you had to sit down for. The second task is very different in that it is more something ongoing, something to be done daily: it is to develop attentiveness.

In which ways are you —

— trying to imitate others;

— restrain from new original endeavors because of

  • fear;
  • procrastination;
  • negative thinking;
  • worrying what others think about you?

Now, you may say ‘Well, to watch this and not do something about it, what’s the purpose of it all?’ The purpose is that by simply watching it, by developing this awareness and practicing watchful attentiveness, your consciousness changes and with it your life. This means the problem will disappear by itself! You do not need to do anything about it. At least not something more than being attentive.

Being attentive, being passively watchful requires a high investment of vital energy. Krishnamurti has shown it in all his writings and talks.

Task Three : Just do it!

When you have original ideas, intuitions or impulses, just do what you wish to do, and do not worry! When I was young, my whole energy, my whole spirit was focused on becoming a pianist. Yet all life circumstances contradicted my wish. It was almost hopeless. I had to wait many years until I could begin with piano lessons. I was eighteen when I began, and my left hand was totally undeveloped and hopelessly weak.

At twenty-one I could eventually study with a well-known university professor and pianist. Yet I never could achieve the standard of technique I needed to possess in order to play the compositions I loved, the piano preludes, etudes and concertos by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt and Scriabin — all the wonderful piano literature that is awfully difficult to perform. And this despite my exercising the piano up to eight hours per day.

My teacher was telling me that I had the spirit of a graduated pianist with the hands and the technique of a child! He said it well with a touch of humor, but for me it was like a sword penetrating into my heart and the flesh of my musical passion. And there were other disappointments. I had composed a piano etude and dedicated it to my professor. And he lost it! Me, foolish as I was at that time, had not made a copy of the score. So it was lost forever.

The result of all this? I abandoned completely and forever any kind of training, any kind of lesson, and any kind of help for piano playing. I continued on my own. I continued despite all, and also despite all the turmoil I had with the neighbors who wanted to set me out of the apartment because of the ‘noise’ I made and even won at court action against me. And yet I continued, but without musical scores, without the classical training and without hope to ever achieve something valuable with my efforts on the piano. And yet today I have realized more than forty audio CDs with my musical productions and compositions!

This little story may have no value for you as far as my person is concerned. But if you abstract the message from the personal story, you can apply in your life what you learn from it. And you can see miracles happen in much the same way as they happened in my life! As I said in the beginning, nothing works if you are not persistent. And this needs a basic level of self-discipline which is, however, not control. It is not meant to burden you, to push you into self-sacrifice. It is rather some kind of passion or even madness that drives you to the point to realize your ultimate vision.

When I say ‘do it’ I mean do what you can in the moment. It does not mean to shoot and rob somebody so as to have the money to realize your dream. The universe stops helping you if you are violating universal laws, while when you patiently comply with them, the universe will truly support your dream, once you are investing the necessary vital energy to keep focus and persist despite all.

Sometimes little steps or endeavors that lead to your goal may seem almost ridiculous if you compare them to the final result you want to bring about.

Task Four : Mark Your Path

Task Four requires you to put little road signs for yourself that you are walking a certain path. There is a funny little anecdote told by Anthony Robbins in his book Awaken the Giant Within (1991). Robbins said that it was not possible to always do the right thing at the right time. It was only important for us to put little signs along the road, signs which serve as signals for us to see that we feed our vision, that we take it serious! He then reports the story of a man who took his gun and shot his old car in pieces.

This man wanted to set a sign that he wishes to have a new car! That’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? commented Robbins, chuckling, but at the end the man was right in setting an act. To have done it will greatly advance his project to eventually get a new car.

What did Robbins mean? Did he want to convey that we should do something crazy and outlandish only to show we are in the world, and to attract attention? No, he wanted to say that when you set your new course in life, you should celebrate it, as if it was your birthday, or an important event in your life. You should set a markstone, for yourself, not necessarily for others. The goal of setting an act is not to attract attention, but actually to give a signal to your own inner mind, to your subconscious, that you are taking this new direction serious, and that you are not going to waver with your decision.

That means you root yourself in your new energy, and then the energy will take over. All in our universe works that way. There must be an idea first, a thought, an intent, then its expression in the outside world through a decision or, stronger, a dedication to that idea; a dedication is what reinforces intent, and gives a signal to the universe to attract all is needed for the realization of the initial idea or project. This, then, will attract all the help needed, and the energy that is going to propel the idea into tangible realization.

Points to Ponder

  • In this article, I provided you with a roadmap for being different, and accepting your difference.
  • Have you ever thought about how much strength, power, and original creativeness lies in your difference? Autonomy, the natural condition, or else co-dependence, a pathological condition, are both learned in babyhood. While most of us were conditioned to be co-dependent with our parents, or a single parent, we can work on building autonomy. I acknowledge that the change is not easy but it’s not impossible either. It took me thirty years but I come from an extreme condition of mother-son co-dependence, and for most people it won’t be that difficult and time-consuming to develop their true originality.
  • You may trigger the change process by willpower and intention but to get through the whole process, you need to build an attitude that is consistent and that supports your specific inner setup. For this to happen, you don’t need to oppose the world, and you do not need to develop a fancy lifestyle or mannerisms, but you simply stay connected with inside and let the change come about spontaneously, and incrementally, doing one step at a time.
  • There are four tasks you may accomplish on your way to build personal distinction and creatorhood, and for affirming your difference. In the first task, entitled Roadmap for Distinction, you write spontaneous essays about, for example, your Top Ten Reasons to be Different, how you Value Creativity and Originality or what you think about the Value of Marginality. These essays may be door openers for you as the questions are loaded with meaning, but the condition is that you write your answers fast, in stream-of-consciousness style, without letting your observer come too much in the way.
  • In the second task, you are developing attentiveness, or what K called ‘total attention’. Attention is something magic as the power of consciousness is self-executing in the sense that anything you focus upon is strengthened and anything you wish to disappear, you can make disappear by simply withdrawing your attention from it. For example, if you wish to be more healthy, withdraw your attention as much as possible from your ailments and focus it on your wellbeing and strengths. Then there is nothing that can defeat your long-term health. It’s as simple as that, while it’s not simple to do it because it requires you to invest vital energy in the quest.
  • When you live a sluggish, luxury life, indulging in all kinds of debauchery and pleasures, you are unlikely to have this amount of energy at your disposition. This is why a certain purity in your inner and outer life is necessary to bring about total attention. I know that K’s teaching is true in so far as I have been able to bring this about in my own life, after more than twenty years of studying his teaching, but still.
  • The third task, if you remember my music story, consists in just doing what you intuitively feel is right. I felt that pursuing a piano career is not for me, so I studied law, but did not let teachers or written music spoil my passion for music, continuing piano on my own. There was no immediate result. Twenty years went in the land until my inborn creativity was strongly enough built to see its day, and back in 1994, I started to record my musical inspirations. From then to this year, I have created several CDs every year, consistently, almost fifty till today. I have then created the cover art, the descriptions, the web site to sell them, and the e-commerce. I have created my own production label, realizing my dream from A to Z — without any help or support.
  • This is what I mean when I say ‘Do it’, it means solve all the problems that are in your way, one by one, and one at a time. But persist, do not let anybody defeat you, and do not get on a track of self-pity and procrastination. The good news is that when you just do it, when you are active in creating your dream, such moments of frustration are only coming up once in a while, and are easy to master.
  • It is a different story, when you are in this kind of a pattern, to let the work over to others, as I did during the first two years of my production. I namely had submitted my musical creations to three new age music publishers in Europe and was bluntly rejected.
  • That had a really damaging effect upon me and I had to cope with those feelings of defeat, anger and rage for years and years. Needless to add that I haven’t submitted my music to any stupid music publishers since then, which only favored the speed of my creation. Do believe in your own dream, not in others’ dreams. Do not throw your jewels in front of the pigs, or to say it with the Bible: ‘Give not that which is holy to you to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.’ (Matthew 7–6) They do not know your inner world and can really not judge your creations!
  • The forth task is to put up little road signs that mark your trace, and for me it was creating my CDs, which are complete as they are, and while produced by myself, but they look professional in every respect, and are recorded professionally, with all the necessary equipment for producing high-quality digital audio CDs. I bought this equipment of course, and nobody sponsored it, and as long as I had others do that work, as I did back in 1998 in Jakarta, Indonesia, where I got one faulty result after another from decrepit greedy companies who have no idea of how to even produce a decent audio CD, yet charge a lot of money, I did it all myself. And then I succeeded.
Advertisements