Overview: In this episode (ep 135), Adam Williams shares his approach to self-expression, including as a podcaster. It’s about self-study and facing fears, putting life questions and the things he thinks he thinks, for now, into the sunlight to see what’s what. (Released on podcast on Feb. 7, 2023)
EP 135 SHOW NOTES, LINKS & TRANSCRIPT
Podcast cover art: Adam Williams
Original Written Version
I’ve come and gone from blogging over the years, and from sharing thoughts in solo episodes on the Humanitou podcast, in big part because I thought:
“Who am I to share my thinkings? They are not answers. How could they be? And if they aren’t answers, what value do they offer? What value do I offer in sharing them? People will think I think I have it figured out.”
When confidence would wane, so would my energy for writing and recording for the podcast. I’d circle back from time to time, with a refreshed perspective and courage.
I never was offering answers, and I tried to make that clear in the way I used language. It was an ebb and flow of fear about who might misunderstand my intentions.
I suppose I still have that fear in the back of my mind, but I have returned to the Humanitou podcast and blog with a renewed energy.
I’m creating and sharing with a frequency and honesty like never before, and a trust that readers and listeners know what’s what.
I mean, you know the difference between a self-touting fool who is spouting answers to life and a thoughtful, sincere thinker who is exploring relatable human questions, right?
With those things in mind, I stumbled onto a relevant perspective from the renowned 20th century spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti recently. He was speaking to a group in 1980, in Switzerland, and was asked this question:
“There are so many gurus today, both in the East and in the West, each one pointing his own way to enlightenment. How is one to know if they are speaking the truth?”
Krishnamurti answered more broadly to the ideas of gurus, followers and truth in his response than what I’m highlighting here, but it’s the following part on enlightenment that he concluded his answer with that I think summarizes the essence of his message:
“Nobody can give guidance, can give light, to another. Only you yourself can do that; but you have to stand completely alone. That is what is frightening for the old and the young.
“If you belong to anything, follow anybody, you are already entering into corruption. Understand that very deeply, with tears in your eyes: when there is no guru, no teacher and no disciple, there is only you as a human being living in this world – the world, the society, which you have created.
“And if you do not do something for yourself, society is not going to help you. On the contrary, society wants you to be what you are. Do not belong to anything, not to any institution or organization; do not follow anybody, be not a disciple of anybody.
“You are a human being living in this terrible world; a human being who is the world and the world is you. You have to live there, understand it, and go beyond yourself.”
Krishnamurti says not to seek but to question. When I’m writing and podcasting, sharing my thoughts, they are an exploration of ideas out loud.
They are a way of saying to myself first, and then to anyone who might connect with similar ideas, experiences and feelings in themselves while reading or listening to my words, “This is what I think I think. At least for now.”
Tomorrow, a new idea, a bolt of lightning, might strike with inspiration. I might have a new experience, stumble onto a new insight or learn from a new conversation with someone who shares a fresh perspective.
So when I write, I try to speak as someone in the mix, not above it. I avoid using instructive language, as if I can tell you anything. I can’t solve your life, ffs. I am just trying to understand my own.
Instead, I try to offer ideas and, more than anything, raise questions. It’s an investigative process, this business of human life, with “answers” coming and going on the shifting sands.
I think a lot. And I process through actions like writing and speaking. To be “out loud,” literally on podcast or figuratively in writing, is an essential part of this self-exploration.
I also think I have to be willing to be wrong and expose my imperfect thinking to the sunlight. That’s what solidifies my questions and momentary beliefs. I face the fear of making my thoughts known, because that’s when they crystallize and I know I must own them.
That’s when I’m really facing them and asking myself, “Do I really think this? Do I really stand by this?” The good-news fact is: no one else has the answers either; we’re all just doing the best we can to figure it out.
In fact, the more certain we are about almost anything, the more damage we’re likely to cause. We need to be flexible, willing to take in new possibilities and adapt, to see the light.
It’s at the intersection of my good-faith sharing efforts and yours that we can take steps forward in our understanding. That is, until the sands shift again, calling for reevaluation.
Krishnamurti said we must stand alone and give ourselves guidance. That seems right enough when it comes to knowing ourselves and recognizing our own light. The work begins by going inward and facing ourselves.
But I’d suggest that beyond that, when we’ve come to know our own light, we’re able to see the light in others as well and meet each other there.
That’s when the light grows.