“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
― Paulo Coelho
“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”
— Marcus Aurelius
One of the reasons it took me so long to get my book over the finish line and actually published was people like the Stoics and Marcus Aurelius had said it all before.
I found so much goodness in terms of the great people of the world that I nearly didn’t write anything at all. After all, what’s the point when it’s all been said so much better than I could ever say it?
(I now know the above is a very very common barrier for many people in ANY pursuit – “What do I have to offer?”. The fact is you have everything to offer, people are waiting for your voice.
But I digress, I’ll get to doubt in a moment:
There is no new wisdom, no matter how much the people of the internet say there is. There is nothing new under the sun, when it comes down to what is important.
The trouble is you don’t know what is wise and true and important until you know what is wise and true and important.
If you’re a little lost, looking for some direction, anything can seem plausible.
To go on from what Paulo Coehlo once wrote …
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
When there are so many opinions and so little examples of wisdom and truth out there, how do you know where to turn when there aren’t many true teachers, showing you what you truly need to know in life?
Who do you believe? Who do you follow? Who is truly wise?
What direction will ultimately give you the complete fulfilment that you crave from life?
You already know.
In your heart of hearts, you already know what it’s like to live supremely well.
Hence the simple beauty of Marcus Aurelius’s words. Stop thinking about how to live a good life, and just start living good.
When you tap into that pre-existing source of goodness, everything in your life comes together. It does.
When you forget that, it all falls apart. It can be devastating because you feel like you’ve lost something, you’ve lost the secret treasure map on goodness.
Trouble is you doubt so much. I say “you” for emphasis, but I mean “we.” Humanity’s problem is doubt.
And that’s why a practice is important, because doubt is a tricky habit to lose.
Find a practice that enlivens the truth of you. That works to clarify your experience of yourself so even when doubt speaks, you can step beyond it, and in the stepping beyond it, you realise that doubt was like a passing fart in the wind.
When you’re solid in your experience, doubt never lasts long. A practice helps you become solid in yourself.
I personally practice the Bright Path Ishayas’ Ascension. It’s the one thing I’ve done every single day since 2003, so I’m very happy with what the practice brings.
It’s extremely useful to have a regular reminder and a regular recharge in terms of truth and wisdom so it shines through even when you’re having those hell days.
You practice now while the going is good so you can sail through the tough time.
Here’s some more points on practicing and living your own truth and wisdom you might find useful:
1. You already know, but you’ve ignored it until it died
Doubt and confusion win because you don’t give the goodness of your own heart and soul enough priority. You don’t spend enough time sitting in the experience of your own clear, calm wisdom. You don’t spend the time getting to truly know it, and so it fades into a seeming nothing … or it is easily overrun.
Chances are you run around in life at such a pace you miss the significance of doing nothing. Stop, slow down, make time to tune in every single day.
2. Wisdom is an experience
It is not knowledge. It is not facts or rituals or beliefs. Wisdom is a lived experience at the core of all people (especially you!).
Some however, are content to pontificate solely about the taste of wisdom, as if they could gain full pleasure from talking about the taste of a fine meal.
Which is crazy: the talking is as dry as dust compared with the actual chewing. Don’t confuse the two. The taste, the experience, is everything; the philosophising is like empty air in comparison.
Taste it. You want the direct experience of it.
3. You can’t think your way into an experience
If wisdom and truth is an experience, and they are, you can’t think your way there. You need to drop the mind, step back and BE the experience. You can’t think it, you need to align with it.
I realise this might be frustrating. That’s why a practice, a technique that, like a tuning fork, resonates your awareness with the experience will help enormously. Find a practice that does that for you so you don’t need to think about it, you just do it.
4. You can’t think yourself out of a problem
You can’t think yourself out of a problem. You can’t. Thinking is what got you into the problem. You need to do something completely different.
Your practice needs to be about stepping beyond the mind into the experience of presence, of the still, silent spaciousness of your being, because there, there are no problems there: no matter what is happening in your life, you deal with what’s happening from such a different place; a place of wisdom and truth and calm.
Here the mind stops being a hindrance and starts being like a useful tool you can pick up and put down when you want to. The mind stops using you, which is a wonderful state of affairs.
4. Simple and easy
No vigorous hardship is required. No Ma’am. No Sir. Not at all. No suppression, no force, no change at all is required to be who you’ve always been.
However, it can seem like force is the right path. Indeed, it was one I tried for a long time. While it can be extremely beneficial to train your mind and body to not be so needy, to make it a little more “anti-fragile,” becoming aware of who you already are requires zero hardship.
Of course, you need enough self-discipline to practice the return to yourself, to practice something that will allow you to taste and experience the wisdom of your own heart.
But this isn’t really hard work. It becomes self-motivating. The more you taste it, the more you want to return to it.
The lack of hard work is not often anyone’s true issue. It is the lack of love and acceptance that is truly the thing.
5. Don’t be your own guru
It is popular in some circles to exclaim “Be your own guru.”
I appreciate the sentiment underlying this, i.e. bow to no one, be independent, believe nothing beyond what you know to be true, tap into the true guidance found in your own heart and intuition …
And despite how this may seem to contradict everything I’ve written above, “Be your own guru” is merry chase down a road of self-deception.
You need the wisdom, guidance and experience of significant others. You do.
The smart obtain the services of a guide/coach/teacher, as well as tapping into a community of like minded people, in every sphere of life, it seems, except wisdom.
As I said above: you can’t out think the limitations of your own mind.
You just recreate another, slightly more “mindful” mind. Which will throw you under the bus at any stage. Because that’s what it does. A little like Mister Punch. All nice nice until it’s not.
Again – You can’t out think your own mind.
You need a practice to step beyond it. You need to experience what else is there, here. Already.
This isn’t difficult, not at all.
It’s just that your mind will mess it all up, and you won’t even know. I speak from someone with vast experience of how subtle the layers of belief, expectation and insistence can be.
Get someone to guide you. Get a community to support you.
I have an Ishaya monk, an Ascension meditation teacher, who I make sure I regularly consult. I make it my business to regularly consult and associate with other Ishayas and the whole community of Ascenders because we all remind each other of what is the most important thing to us. They’re on the same wavelength, they care, and they are fun.
Why would you try and do this alone?
For sure, you need to do something, and no one can do that for you, but at least get help avoiding the pitfalls from someone who’s been there and done that.
How do you know who? They walk their talk. And they are happy and relaxed and real. They won’t ask you to believe anything on faith alone. They may ask you to be open to the possibility of something, but never to believe. They’ll direct you, simply, to the experience, not the thought of it.
You also already know who that is when you’re around them, when you hear them teach, when they talk, how they live.
6. You have to stop snacking at some stage and get some true nutrition
In wisdom, it seems the preferred approach of many people is snacking from the buffet table of direction. Some days it’s this teaching, other days it’s that teaching.
This snacking approach is valuable to gain an appreciation of what appeals to you – but at some point you have to sit down and make a meal of one thing.
Commit into a teaching or a practice for a period of time. Nothing gets you instant anything.
Awesome, That’s about all I have at the moment. I’m sure there’s more, but I think that’s enough. Enjoy! Find a practice. Don’t give doubt an inch.