The search for meaning usually struggles through the breaking out from conditioning, the constructive element of all societies. Conditioning starts from the primary social unit; the family extending into institutions and mainstream society. However a point comes in the life of the individual when the conflict between the real self and the conditioned self becomes irrepressible. The authentic self begs for expression; to be set free to experience its own independent growth and realisation. The reason many never overcome this conflict in expressing the authentic self in their search for meaning can be attributed to a number of factors. Pivotal among them is fear. It is fear that feeds self delusion or evasion. The risk of complete sincerity and self honesty is at the time too staggering to the conditioned mind. And therefore he or she is unable to truly see or admit their inner conflict in order to accept it and thereby transcend it. But life is not usually that straight forward or easy. It takes a significant crisis that shifts the earth under us such that we are hanging in the air 10,000 metres over imaginary pricks then falling into despair that finally stirs the courage to face reality and transcend our conditioning. So the conditioned mind is never liberated on a bed of roses. In the search for meaning, the conditioned mind must meet a catastrophe of great proportions relative to the level of conditioning in order to be free. But how does this crisis start? What instigates a massive shaking? It is simply self honesty or sincerity. This quality of sincerity and the courage to face the truth causes the individual to begin to question their conditioning. This is extremely frightening and majority never make it past this stage. Either they rationalize, or look for more reinforcement of their now weakened conditioning or they simply evade their authentic self. However, those who will face these questions in all sincerity will inevitably encounter a crisis and eventually deep despair. Despair because the security of their long held beliefs has been shattered by reality. Sincerity is therefore, arguably the most important quality for self evolution next to courage. Sincerity is so vital, so powerful, so personal, yet it is a mystery why many of us prefer the “safe” harbour of self delusion. But for how long? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if the rewards of an authentic self which has discovered meaning can be measured. Can the personal power of one who has conquered the fear that grips the conditioned mind be estimated? It would help if we look at the qualities of an authentic self which as a result of its authenticity has realised meaning in life.

First, an authentic self is open to vulnerability, never shies from it, demonstrating sublime levels of courage. Vulnerability means the authentic self virtually has no defences and is not afraid of injury. Neither does it employ sophistication to disguise its defences against vulnerability.

Second, an authentic self has no exaggerated or distorted sense of self and is therefore of deep humility, openness and self acceptance.

Third, an authentic self is secure in itself and therefore uplifts and appreciates the true worth of others never practising what psychologists call minimisation which is in fact a defence.

Fourth, an authentic self loves itself profoundly. It hardly needs other validation. It is a truism that in finding your true self you will fall in love with it, be in awe of it and care for it deeply. As a result, you can share disciplined and authentic love with others. We see it too often that people who do not love themselves or feel inadequate find it hard to love others.

Fifth, is that the authentic self is creative. How can a liberated self not be? Will it not be expansive?

Sixth, the authentic self is never partisan but sees a reflection of itself in all humans irrespective of nationality, culture, race or religion.

Seventh, the authentic self has high unconditional self regard, self pride (not of the vain type), self respect yet deep humility. And so does the authentic self have high regard and respect for others treating relationships as sacred.

Eighth, an authentic self is of extreme beauty, this beauty is so divine, so idiosyncratic, that it is evident to all who encounter it. The beauty of the authentic self resonates, it inspires, elicits awe yet never intimidates.

Overall, one can therefore infer that the end result of the antithesis of the authentic self is loss of meaning, a lack of wholeness and ultimately depression. Authenticity the outgrowth of sincerity is a wellspring of joy and peak experiences. The first responsibility in our own conscious evolution is to break out of our conditioning to experience true freedom by seeking to bravely find the answers to those questions that arise in our hearts. Would we be willing to be sincere? To demonstrate courage? It is up to us.

This writing is dedicated to Radhika Kothari.