Die to Self

There are a number of significant transitions taking place in my life right now, on both the business and personal fronts. And while I am always quick to welcome change as well as new environments (I have long accepted that I have life ADD), it can still be very intimidating and nerve racking to undergo a change, especially because we as human beings are so accustomed to sticking to our habits and accepted patterns of:

  1. Doing
  2. Thinking
  3. Being
  4. Perceiving
  5. Being perceived by others

We try so hard in this life to hold on to what we have, what we do and what we are – but the truth is that:

Firstly: We, as well as everything around us is changing rapidly every single second, of every single day, thus change is inevitable.

Secondly: We don’t realize that what we actually hold onto are mere projections and mental models of who/what we think is around us. You don’t actually know who you are, you know who you think you are. No one else knows you either, they only know who they think you are.

This being said, we need to understand that the only way to fully express our true nature for what it really is, is to completely die to ‘self’ – i.e let go of all the ideas, opinions, thoughts, ambitions, ideals, projections and perceptions and completely die to self.

Because all of these attributes, names, identifiers, thoughts and labels just create and enforce a self-imposed cage that you build for yourself and others to dwell in and if you really want to escape from your cage, you must be willing to die to self.

If you really want to escape from your cage, you must be willing to die while you are alive.

Perfectly illustrated by the following story


A traveler from India went to Africa to acquire some local products and animals, and while in the jungle he saw thousands of beautiful multicolored talking parrots. He decided to capture a talking parrot and take it back as a pet.

At home, he kept his parrot in a cage and fed him wonderful seeds and honey, played music for his pet, and generally treated him well. When it was time for the man to return to Africa 2 years later, he asked his parrot if there was any message he could deliver to the parrot’s friends back in the jungle. The parrot told his master to say that he was very happy in his cage and that he was enjoying each day and to convey his love.

When the traveler arrived back in Africa he delivered the message to the parrots in the jungle. Just as he finished his story, a parrot with tears welling up in his eyes fell over dead. The man was alarmed and decided that the parrot must have been very close to the parrot in the cage and that was the reason for his sadness and demise.

When the traveler returned to India, he told his pet what had happened. As he finished his story, the pet parrot’s eyes welled up with tears and he kneeled over dead in his cage. The man was astounded, but figured that his pet died from the despair of hearing of the death of his close friend back in the jungle.

The trader opened up the cage and tossed the dead bird outside onto the trash heap. Immediately his pet parrot flew up to a branch on the tree outside.

The trader said to him, “So, you are not dead after all. Why did you do that?”

The parrot answered, “Because that bird back in Africa sent me a very important message.”

“What was the message?” the trader inquired impatiently.

“He told me that if you want to escape from your cage, you must die while you are alive.”

Returning is the movement of the Tao.

Yielding is the manner of the Tao.

All things in the world are born out of being.

Being is born out of non-being.”

The Tao Te Ching,Verse 40


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