A Hwarang’s Reflections on his Journey Toward Happiness
This might be hard to stomach for some people:
“Nobody needs you. Seriously, you’re not that important.”
Often we are stressed and burdened heavily with the idea that without us, our family, our loved ones, our business will collapse. The truth of the matter is all things and all people are replaceable. When you’re gone your family, your children, your spouse, your business, they will all continue on; maybe not the way you intended on, but they will all go on without you. So, be blessed with today while you are here and do your best to be happy, help others, and not worry about what people will do without you. This is also one of the hardest things because we must destroy the ego. We build our self worth and value, defining ourselves by how many people depend and need us. But, once again the truth is nobody needs us, they’d rather we’d hang around, but whether they live or die, be happy or sad does not depend on us – it depends on the individual’s self-determination.
The magnitude of one’s suffering and pain created from their guilt and burden to perpetuate the family was evident and clear to me when one of my students broke down in tears in utter helplessness when he said, “I hate my parents. I want to die, but I can’t because I have to take care of my parents.” These sentiments, maybe not so harsh, yet just as real are felt by many first born sons, especially Asian. This got me thinking deeply about my own personal state of being. I never want my burden to family become the source of my pain and misery. However, recently I have discovered that at the core of my being, I am the same with misery and sadness, knowing that I will never satisfy my parents’ expectations.
Many opt to blaming their parents for this and become miserable adults with suicidal tendencies. I choose not to follow that path. it is not the parents fault for wanting their child to do their best and have a better life. So, I do not blame my parents and have accepted them and love them as they are. I wouldn’t expect anything less from them than to want what’s best for me. However, I can change how I perceive my duty to family.
Rather saying that I must take care of my family, I have to go to work, I have to care for my children, say I choose to do so. Changing it from something that you must, presupposing that you rather not do it, to a choice gives you back your power as well as changing it from something negative to something that’s positive. Being positive also takes practice and remember negative attracts more negative and positive attracts more positive. Life is not a magnet, life is life!
Let me make it clear. This is not to say do not care and help others, just to make yourself happy. That is definitely not the path to happiness. There’s nothing more noble or gratifying than to help others selflessly. What I am talking about here is rid oneself of guilt and inner pain for not being able to fulfill their duty or burden. First the individual has to be happy with himself/herself and be at their optimal in order to better serve their family and loved ones. Just don’t beat yourself up worrying about what they will do without you and just get busy and do your best, because in the end the worrying is not going to solve anything, but only through action.
This is hardest for me to stomach as I have to accept that Hwa Rang Do will exist with or without me. So, I choose to accept my legacy and do my best so that it will thrive even more so without me.
P.S.: When I was younger my need to carry my burden and fulfill my expectations fueled and motivated me to always strive. However, in my mid-life that same thing, which has been the source of my motivation has become the sinking Titanic that’s pulling me under to the depths with it. So, now I realize the source of my unhappiness and I choose to cut myself off from the sinking Titanic and liberate myself. Although it has not been easy, I am in the process of building another ship, one made from hope, reconciliation, and acceptance.
With love, peace, honor, and humility,
Grandmaster Taejoon Lee