You Cannot Lead Your Own Life By Following Others

In recent years, through the use of social media, idolizing others has become more prevalent than ever before. In so far as people become imitators and act like those whom they wish to be in the hopes that they will achieve some kind of identity. We look at others and see how they have lived life, what path they have walked on and hurry to follow their steps before they disappear. I have noticed this in myself. Trying to imitate people I admire or whom I wish to be like. There are good values and habits you can pick up through imitation but using such a thing to understand yourself is difficult to do.

Your identity cannot be taught. An individual is not formed by matching the steps of those who walk before him or her. In fact, the first steps are usually backward, away from others, steps that strip away what you think you know and understand, the concepts and ideas you possess that are not really yours but instead the thoughts of others that you formulate and believe until you think they are yours. Through backward steps, you begin to move towards your own life.

Two texts have influenced this line of thought are, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche. In both texts, a central theme is finding your path in life and in both texts, the answer is simple, your path is subjective and unique to you and that it cannot be taught and in order to find it, you have to create it by trusting your own sensations and observations.

You have found the deliverance from death. It came to you from your own seeking, on your own path, through thinking, through meditation, through knowledge, through illumination. It did not come through a teaching! And – this is my thought, O Sublime One – no one is granted deliverance through a teaching!

Siddharta says this to the Budhha once he has heard his teachings. Up until this point, it had been Siddharta’s quest to find Budhha and hear his teachings in the hopes that the answers will lie in his words and yet, what he finds is that what made Budhha, Budhha cannot be taught. The subjective experience that included joys and happiness, trials and tribulations, peaks and abysses cannot simply be poured into another and have them understand. Budhha went through his life in order to become Budhha.

The Teaching of the illuminated Buddha contains a great deal, it teaches many how to live righteously, avoid evil. But there is one thing that so clear, so venerable Teaching does not contain it: does not contain the secret of what the Sublime One himself has experienced, he alone among the hundreds of thousands. That is what I thought and realized when I heard the Teaching. That is why I am resuming my wandering – not to seek a different, a better teaching, for I know that there is none; but to leave all teachings and all teacher and to reach my goal alone or die.

Similarly, Nietzsche, through Zarathustra, speaks of being wary of those who say they have the answer. Nietzsche goes as far as to say that be even suspicious of his own words and his own teaching.

Now I go alone, my disciples. You too go now, alone. Thus I want it. Verily, I counsel you: go away from me and resist Zarathustra! And even better: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he deceived you.

What should you follow then? What can you trust? How do you find your identity? How do you find your path?

Through yourself.

But this is what the will to truth should mean to you: that everything be changed into what is thinkable for man, visible for man, feelable by man. You should think through your own senses to their consequences.

And what you have called world, that shall be created only by you: your reason, your image, your will, your love shall thus be realized. And verily, for your own bliss, you lovers of knowledge.

Siddhartha echoes these sentiments as well.

This sensation filled him fully, and he mused about it as he slowly walked away. He mused deeply, descending to the very bottom of this sensation as if through deep water, all the way down to where the causes rest. For, it seemed to him, thinking is recognizing causes, and that is the only way in which sensations become insights: they are not lost, they become substance and begin to radiate what is within them.

I will be my own pupil: I will get to know myself, the secret that is Siddhartha.

You have to encounter life through your own senses. Make sense of life through your own observation. Give meaning to what you find meaningful and all the while, you must keep an open mind, a questioning mind towards all things that you do not know and especially towards what you believe you know for you may be wrong. It’s a cycle of creating and recreating through your sensations and thought.

A will to the thinkability of all beings: this I call your will. You want to make all being thinkable, for you doubt with well-founded suspicion that it is already thinkable. But it shall yield and bend for you. Thus your will wants it. It shall become smooth and serve the spirit as its mirror and reflection. That is your whole will, you who are wisest: a will to power – when you speak of good and evil too, and of valuations. You still want to create the world before which you can kneel: that is your ultimate hope and intoxication.

It’s almost a childlike curiosity and observation where one does not take anything in face value but rather seeks a deeper understanding and explanation. Will to power is a procreative will of life. A life that is created by you through your own observations and experiences, through your own reflections and thinking and thus, it’s a life that is your own.

With the process of creation, you come to create your path. A subjective path that only you can walk upon.

“This is my way; where is yours?” — thus I answered those who asked me “the way.” For the way — that does not exist.

The opposite of this is that you become molded into a form that is not yours by following the steps of others. It is my belief that it is better to remain formless, eternally seeking and wandering, than be formed into someone else.