Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 8)

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Regardless of how old you are, you still have the opportunity to live your calling. Age is no excuse. Neither is aptitude, or the lack of it, for this is to be developed on the journey. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to start something unless they are already good at it. A nonsensical view that is often adopted to mask a deep seated fear of failure, it goes against the established process of mastery which recognises that incompetent doing must always precede masterful being.

Humility is such a key virtue to embody here, for without it we cannot grow to become masters in the domain of our calling. Wherever we are on the path of life, we must remember that we are students who have more to learn each day. Learning about that which we love is immensely enjoyable. An investment of our time, energy and very being, the rewards that we receive from this engaged exploration are so much greater than just the learning alone.

Involving the heart in the process, the love that we have for what we do, teaches us about the love that we are. Opening us up to the unexplored parts of ourselves, wisdom is allowed to flourish as one with knowledge. Harmonized in this growth process, the mind and spirit add strength to each other with the effect that our learning is integrated into our life. While we may think that this happens automatically, evidence proves that our learning is nowhere near as strong when we have no passion for the subject matter of that learning.

If I were to ask you here what you remember about trigonometry at school, you would probably go blank, unless of course you have a passion for mathematics. Having love for the subject matter of our calling increases its stickiness, to use marketing language. Resonating with who we are at the deep spiritual level, we take more in with an enhanced capacity, just as a hungry person is likely to do when presented with a bowl of food that they love. While having an insatiable appetite for food may get us into trouble with our health goals, having an insatiable appetite for learning about that which we love, will pave the way for continuous improvement, while exponentially increasing our level of fulfilment.

Digressing from this point, it has always amazed me how when we get on the vocational path, and allow inspiration to speak to us, forces beyond our conscious control come to assist us in our mission. Frequently, when I engage in the process of writing, what emerges in form is so much greater than my mind’s ability to hold. Knowing what I want to say and a bit about how to express it, I feel a force more powerful than my limited conception of self, assisting with the process. Being the spirit within that has given me the ability to write, it continually nudges me forward in my destined unfolding, while supplementing my knowledge with its innate wisdom.

Trying to explain this synchronicity, it mightn’t make much sense to you, unless you have experienced it yourself. Doubting initially my own perspective on this experience of flow, I have since had it validated by many other people who have reported similar experiences when engaged in tasks or activities that they profoundly loved to do. The basketball great Larry Bird once said that often when he had the ball in a game, he intuitively knew the best play to make in the circumstances. But how did he know? Because in those moments of play, he was fully present in what he loved to do and had an incredible talent for. Allowing his inner spiritual guide to speak to him in these moments about the rhythm of the game, Bird was able to perform at a higher level than his contemporaries, who were more focused on imposing their own personal will on the game.

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One Last Call

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Earlier this week, an AirAsia flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur had to urgently return to Perth mid-flight after an engine ruptured, which caused the plane to shake violently. After being notified by the captain of a serious problem with the aircraft (so serious that he suggested the passengers say a prayer), a priority of many of these terrified passengers, in what could have been their final moments, was to try and make phone contact with their loved ones. A natural response in these types of circumstances that is yet not really understood, this piece will seek to elucidate why these passengers acted as they did when faced with the imminent prospect of death.

In a society where its members abhor the thought of dying, it is unsettling to have to contemplate a scenario like the one above. We have a tendency to act like we are going to live forever, and although we comprehend with the mind that we could die at any moment, we frequently deny that reality by taking for granted that we will live to see the day out. Every day, people die unexpectedly and what is left behind are unexpressed emotions and unfulfilled plans. The father dies without his son having heard how truly proud his dad was of the man that he had become. A best friend dies in an accident, leaving future occasions bereft of her company.

It is true that life is fragile, and as we embrace this truth, so can we infuse every breath with a love that yearns to perpetually express itself. Born in love, it is only natural that the deepest part of who we are would want to leave the physical world immersed in this same eternal love that is never born and never dies. Having its foundation in the metaphysical dimension, it is eternal love that is characteristic of our spiritual nature. Calling for love’s unhindered expression, this becomes effortless when we align with our true nature, and do not allow our ego to resist its flow.

To resist death is to restrain the flow of love that is characteristic of life. Being life’s counterpart, it is the shadow of death that has much to teach as it follows us. Teaching us that this moment is all that we truly have, it is this day that it would not have us waste with egoic concerns and trivial pursuits. Many of us live our lives with the nagging feeling that we are missing the essence of life. Consumed with getting ahead, we forget that the true essence of life is only to be found in the here and now. Remembering this as we put ourselves in the position of these airplane passengers, a new perspective emerges that gives us the permission to be free. No longer do we have to settle for an artificial and unfulfilling existence, for with every choice to love comes new life that the realm of form cannot take away.

With moments to live, it would be the things that matter least which would fade like the clouds on a summer’s day. Wanting only to bring contentment to our heart, we would not think to call the office to wind up our business, or call our financial advisor for a final assessment of our net worth. Who we would call are the ones who mean the most to us. These are our spouses/partners, parents, children, or our closest friends. What we would say are the words that each of us yearns to hear from the ones who we care the most about, ‘I love you’. With these words would come others that express the same sentiment. Love speaks most eloquently, and with this clarity it is beyond reproach. Being what we cannot deny because of its identity in spirit, this eternal love is what heals the heart and cleanses the mind of the misperceptions that in the ego’s company, we take to be reality.

In the moments before his death at the hands of a gunman, Gandhi showed us the way to an inspired life. Mouthing the words, “Krishna, Krishna”, it was love that he chose to be his final message. Knowing love to be the only way, it is what he could not withhold as he returned to oneness. In the company of spirit he walked, and by his example, we can learn to do the same. The choice to love need not be reserved for our final moments on the physical plane, for being abundant in its presence, it is what we can embody here and now, in the holy instant that always lives and never dies.

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Teaching It Forward

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Pay it Forward is a really great movie. Very inspiring in its message, it teaches much about not holding onto the gifts that we have, but sharing them with others who may not be expecting it. While the film deals with acts of good will directed towards others, I would like to focus here on imparting wisdom that has been passed to us. I love quotes from great thinkers and inspiring stories that evoke the heart and challenge the mind. Shaped by the musings of those special souls who have illuminated my path, they are what I love sharing with others who I encounter on my journey of life.

In so many ways this is what these reflections are about. It is giving to others those things that have had a powerful influence on me. We all have the capacity to be agents of wisdom. This is because wisdom is an inherent part of our spiritual fibre. In this respect, it is akin to beauty. We are capable of appreciating it in the world because it is what we inherently embody. Being in alignment with our spirit, beauty is what we perceive in the world when we look upon it with the clarity of love.

As a lifelong student who has become a teacher in a university setting, I have come to observe something interesting about the learning process, which is this. Teaching something to another delivers a benefit to both the student and the teacher. The student of course receives the learning that the teacher has imparted, and the teacher receives the gratitude of the student, with the fulfilment this is inherent in giving something to another that they can use to improve their life in a powerful way. But even more profound than this is the revelation that the act of teaching strengthens the teacher’s understanding of that which is taught. By having to explain something to the student and making it clearer for them, it naturally becomes clearer for the teacher, who has had to become more closely connected with the essence of the lesson in order to articulate it.

Words can be very clumsy sometimes, especially when we are trying to articulate a complex concept or express something from the heart. Wanting to speak of the infinite dimension of spirit to others, words can often be inadequate as a means of expression. This is why we sometimes get lost for words when we experience something awe inspiring or transformational. Despite this being the case, we shouldn’t let this challenge in communicating interfere with the spirit’s intention to have us understand and accept each other for who we truly are.

There is so much of value that we can provide to others. In our hearts and minds, we have a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom that we are meant to share, not keep to ourselves. With this, I do not mean forcing our ideas on others and having them bend to our whim. That would promote misunderstanding and conflict which would not serve the spirit, but the purposes of the ego. Rather, what I am advocating for here, is giving of inspiration and information that will enrich others and enable their growth.

The success of a learning experience is determined in equal parts by the student’s openness to learning, and the teacher’s willingness to teach. Do not doubt that what you know in the depths of your being can lead others to a deeper experience of life. All you need is an interaction to touch the life of another in a profound way. Here, you have nothing to be afraid of. With grace as the facilitator of these interactions, the words you express are in the safest of hands.

So much of the confusion and lack of fulfilment in relating that characterises the human experience at present, stems from our unwillingness to open ourselves up to the presence of spirit, and being unreceptive to the presence of spirit in others. Resolve here and now to be a part of the solution by embracing your role as a teacher of others. Teach what you learn from relating with your spirit, so that the consciousness of the world may be elevated by the wisdom that you have found yourself to be.

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The Relationship Wake

What is your relationship wake? Concerning the people that you share time with, do you leave them in a better position than you found them, or worse off for having encountered you? Do you lift others up by your contribution to their life, or do you tear them down? Do you make them the focus of your attention when you interact with them, or do you make yourself the focus of these interactions? Each of these are potent questions, when you consider that the quality of one’s life is determined largely by the quality of their relationships.

A wake is a trail that is left behind. The mark that we have made on the world, it illustrates the path that we have taken from one moment to the next. The by-product of our being, it attests to the maturity of our character, and our willingness to grow as we were created to. Embodying the thoughts, attitudes and behaviours that have shaped our interactions with others, this wake is what they will remember us by, even after we have long forgotten the dynamics of those interactions.

With this, picture yourself standing on a cliff and looking out into the ocean. Spotting a small boat in the distance in front of you, what is observable to the eye is not only where the boat is, but also where it has been. Moving atop the water by the power of its engine, what it leaves behind is a wash of white water that tells a story of its own. The wake of the boat, it contextualises the picture that otherwise would have remained obscure to an observer with a more limited perspective.

Now extend this metaphor to your relationships. Have the boat represent who you are to those who you interact with, whether they are loved ones, business colleagues or acquaintances. What wake have you left behind? Is yours one that has seen you give to others what they needed from you in those interactions? Has that path been consciously created and expressive of who you truly are, or does it provide evidence that you have not shown up in the world authentically as yourself?

Rarely do we give thought to the kind of relationships that we would like to create as we are participating in them. Most often we shape them unconsciously, and then look back at what we have effected. This is not something to regret if what we have created has been positive and fulfilling from both our perspective and the perspective of others. The real problem comes when we look back and have the realisation dawn on us that we have left a path of destruction in our wake.

Seldom is the case that we intend to cause others to suffer in relating with us, but this is what we nevertheless create when we do not direct ourselves consciously, and make others a part of our focus. Leaving them on the periphery of our concern, what we create is unsatisfying and incapable of nurturing the best of what is both given and received in these interactions.

The beauty of relationships is that they hold great potential for individual and collective growth, but we will struggle to see this beauty and facilitate this growth when we are so focused on ourselves and where we are going that we forget to take the time to look behind at our wake, and the story that it tells not only about the quality of our relationships, but ultimately the quality of our life.

In your awareness, stay on that cliff looking over the vastness of your life, even after you have stopped reading this, so that your perspective is one that adds depth to your ability to relate to others in the here and now, and into the future. We can’t do much about the wake that has already been created, but we can create a new wake from this day forward. Your power, joy and wisdom are that which you give to others as you relate to them from the depths of your spirit. Be sure to integrate this lesson into your wake, so that others can learn from your example when they look upon your boat from the precipice where they now stand.

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Wilber’s World

Ken-Wilber

The other day, I learned a very interesting lesson about the process of evolution. Watching an educational video, the presenters got to discussing Ken Wilber, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of modern time. Being the man behind integral philosophy which blends body, mind, soul, culture, nature, and the spirit with self, he believes that if we are to evolve, we must take a holistic approach that does not deny any aspect of life. The author of such titles as The Spectrum of Consciousness and A Theory of Everything, Wilber’s work has changed the lives of many around the world, teaching us much about where we have been, who we are now, and where we are going on our collective journey.

A strong proponent of individual and collective evolution, Wilber posits that to grow into someone new, we must disconnect from our previous selves that we have identified with in the past. Being different people at different stages of our life, we hold ourselves back when we cling to who we were in the past, in the present moment. Like wearing a pair of shoes that we have outgrown, we inflict upon ourselves discomfort at best and suffering at worst, when we move against the natural tide of life by keeping alive remnants of the past that once served us, but now only hinders our progress towards wholeness.

Like the cocoon that allows the caterpillar to elegantly transform into a butterfly, so must we cultivate a space within ourselves that is at peace with the death of the old and the birth of the new. Giving ourselves this psychological, emotional and spiritual freedom, we can evolve more consciously and rapidly than those who are willing to remain comfortable constituents of the herd. So often we are reluctant to let die the parts of ourselves that keep us bonded to the past because they are the familiar pillars on which we have built our identity. Wanting to feel like we are in control of our world, we make the mistake of staying the same persons today that we were yesterday. While on the surface this appears to present a solid foundation, it is in reality the most fragile of footings because it does not cater to the fact that the world in which we live is in a constant state of change, never staying the same from one moment to the next.

Honouring the call of nature to growth, it is a potent lesson that we can learn from the world when we choose to move as it does. Creating different identities for himself as he has evolved with his work, it is Wilber who understands better than anyone that we die as we stand still in unconsciousness. Ignorant to the evolutionary pull towards the realisation of potential, we are asphyxiated in an environment that is unmotivated by progress and cursed by apathy.

To find greater meaning and success in every area of life, we must become more fully integrated people. With authentic power flowing from the conscious integration of our being, it is the development of our inner life that holds the potential for flourishing in our external world. By sharpening our own saw, we can cut through the limitations that held us back yesterday, and create a world today which puts into practice the wisdom that has emerged from our growth journey. With the individual being a part of the collective whole of humanity, it is the realisation of our own promise that fulfils the vision that the world has for itself. Being for fear and lack to be overcome by love and abundance, it is what we work towards in each moment that we allow ourselves to express new life.

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