Among the reasons I respect and enjoy you is that you represent the best in humankind: a person attempting to be as alive as he can be, which includes a growing desire to move beyond the holds of such things as preferences, habits, beliefs, addictions, familiars, etc.
For everyone on earth so far as I can tell, but certainly for me, some of those holds are, or have been, tremendously tenacious. Our desire to embrace them as doors to continual expansion, rather than remain seduced by their illusory promise of safety, determines in no small measure the course of our lives.
By my experience, our strong desire to fulfill such an aspiration draws to us a corresponding intensity of support. Among the keen forms of this support is when we are no longer able to sidestep the reality of the pain we create for ourselves by our attachment to fear. Among life’s greatest gifts is the despair that leads to our willingness to go to any length to shift our relationship with fear. It isn’t that fear goes away; we just get better at managing it. We come to appreciate its purpose: showing us what requires our loving attention to fulfill our highest potential (even though that potential is something we’re forever discovering). I’d say we all end up willing to do this sooner or later, in this life or another. And when we do, we’ve taken a big step in our recognition of the depthless beauty of who we really are, always have been and always will be…screwball choices notwithstanding.
I feel you are awakening to a certain call of your heart at this time. Just what that call is, and how I might serve you in honoring it, is what we are exploring.
As you listen within, here are a few foundational ideas that may be helpful, despite the fact that I’ve mentioned them before:
- Anyone can be a leader, since it’s just a role. Leadership, on the other hand, is an action: providing perspective that helps those we serve (including ourselves) make healthy choices.
- I’ve never met a leader who was extraordinary because he or she went to business school. Business school is akin to medical school, or any other trade school: teaching certain skills that make a certain kind of system function. But imagine going to a doctor and saying, “Doc, show me how to be healthy, able to respond well to anything, so that my last breath is my healthiest.” Any doctor with a good answer to that request didn’t learn it in medical school. The strongest leaders I know recognize that life is entirely an inside job, becoming a master of oneself, learning to make healthy choices in the face of anything.
- One way of putting the purpose of life as I understand it is to be awake: ever more mindful of the choices we make, the action we take. Whether heaven, or happiness, or an enterprise that can sustain itself, or anything else is our goal, becoming masters of paying attention is vital.
- How we define our world creates our world. Emerson said our God is whatever we think about all day. The business of living is to define our world (shape how we pay attention, you might say) in a way that helps us take action with confidence that the action we’re taking is the healthiest choice for us in that moment.
- It’s pretty tough, perhaps impossible, to be healthy without defining first what health is for any person or institution, then the practices necessary to cultivate it.
- Environment is more important than will power. Our environment is comprised of every way we spend our time, and everywhere we place our attention, not least of which are the habits we cultivate, the books we read, the people (living and dead) we hang out with, the TV we watch, the care we take of our body, etc. The more deliberate we are in creating or choosing the environment in which we navigate our life, the stronger the support available to us.
- Meditation is among the most powerful forms of mind training. An indispensable one, if you ask me.
- Clarity on what we are trying to accomplish that we can actually control is essential to making healthy choices––regardless of any external circumstance. The list can be extensive, or, if we’re like Gandhi, succinct: dying with the name of God on our lips, although the slate of skills necessary to accomplish that is likely to be robust.
In the spirit of focusing our efforts, should we move forward together, I’ll point to all sorts of kindred souls whose lives are all about paying attention. Here, in book form, are four among those I touch in with regularly:
- Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
- Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama
- Living in the Light of Death by Larry Rosenberg
- Healing Power: Ten Steps to Pain Management and Spiritual Evolution Revised: Introducing the Universal Healing Wheel by Philip Shapiro, M.D.
I’m not suggesting you load up on books. Reading, as you may know or will discover, is a very high level practice because it’s so easy to read with our mind rather than with our heart. In that light, you may wish to start with Larry Rosenberg’s book. Not only is it about one of life’s juiciest topics (“The person who keeps death before his eyes will always overcome his cowardice,” wrote a monk long ago.), it also includes an introduction to a simple, powerful form of meditation.
I look forward to our next encounter.