A friend of mine recently told me a story that was quite simple but wonderfully profound: He had gone to a local river for whitewater kayaking (his first time), and for some reason he just couldn’t stay upright in the kayak. He kept turning over, capsizing, head in the water. No matter how hard he tried to balance or how intensely he paddled, he just could not stay afloat. About half way down the river, the instructor finally noticed the problem and said simply: “You know, if we took you out of that kayak, it would never flip over.” In other words, the more my friend forced and tried and manipulated, the more unbalanced he became. But if he just allowed the kayak to do what it does naturally, to be what it is, to do what it was designed to do, it might just keep him safe...and dry. Once my friend got this, he stopped trying—he just allowed the kayak to be a kayak and simply went along for the ride. My friend didn’t flip again that day.
The Taoist concept of Pu holds a profound lesson in keeping to one’s authenticity. Meaning “unworked wood” or “inherent nature,” the idea of Pu reminds us of the value of authenticity, of being who one truly is, naturally and without effort. When we are not our authentic selves—when we pretend to be, to like, to think something other than what we actually and naturally are—we tend to superficially connect with people and situations that are not quite right for us. With these types of connections, we do not create lasting, interactive, fulfilling, or intimate bonds.
The goal of practicing Pu or any notion of living as the authentic self is to be totally natural, spontaneous, and free—to be as one really is, the true self, the inherent nature. When we just let the boat be the boat, not trying to control it or manipulate it, it stays balanced and does what it was built to do. Similarly, when each of us simply connects with our own unique, individual, natural qualities—without trying to manipulate ourselves into living up to others’ expectations or to some illusion of standards we’ve created for ourselves—then we are being authentic.
So, are you being authentic? Or are you focused on manipulating yourself in order to fit into a mold that isn’t quite YOU? Are you compromising your true nature at work, in relationships, in your creativity, in your worldview, in any way at all? Who are YOU and what do you truly feel is right for your Self? By knowing this and living it, you will more easily recognize and filter out the people and situations that are not right for you, and instead anchor into the life that actually feels authentic.
Be like the unworked wood. Be your inherent nature. Be YOU!
AFFIRMATION OF THE WEEK
I am totally okay just the way I am.
All parts of me are beautiful.
I am absolutely free to be myself.