1. Let Go of the Ego and Just Be Yourself
“Take time to be an impartial observer of life, particularly when an ending is causing despair.”
— Lao Tzu
We don’t need to be anything or anyone. We need to impress no one. As a society we have become concerned with having the latest fashions and technology, with how we look, and with impressing others. What for? Who cares? We are trying to fulfil other people’s expectations of us. That doesn’t really make any sense. It just drives us to distraction, as we’re always trying to prove ourselves to others. Even when we succeed at creating the right look, social status, image, or whatever it is we are trying to achieve, most people don’t notice. So why bother? Our preoccupation with our exterior persona has diverted us from our true self. Once we have let go of our ego state we feel a freedom — a freedom that allows us to truly experience life to its fullest without the weight of expectation holding us back.
2. Learn From Masters
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
— Albert Einstein
By studying great teachers and mentors we can develop wisdom from what others are willing to share. If you seek to learn, grow, and become wise, then you need to associate with wise and knowledgeable people. If you wish to learn any craft or art then a good place to start is to watch what others are doing. Modelling is the process of observing parts of our own and other people’s behaviour in order to reproduce it and improve our functioning and outcomes, and we can reduce the amount of time it takes to learn a new trade, skill, or anything else we wish to replicate by doing so. The great thing about modelling is it is all about leverage. You gain access to someone else’s knowledge base and experience, which may have taken them a lifetime to compile, develop, and learn.
That’s why books and educational programs can be great teachers. They may be no substitute for experience, but can nevertheless be valuable assets that help speed up the learning process. A single book may contain twenty or thirty years’ worth of condensed wisdom, yet you may be able to read the book in two or three days. This is what I mean by leverage. If you have taken on board the information contained in the book, then you have effectively gained new ideas, skills, wisdom and knowledge in a fraction of the time. Thirst for knowledge enhances one’s capability and brings forth new ideas, reasoning, and creativity. So seek out great teachers and masters and study what they have learned and the wisdom they share. Be prepared to explore the mysteries of the universe and set yourself free.
3. Bring Awareness to Your Life
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
People are increasingly moving toward living a holistic, sustainable lifestyle with a focus on quality of life rather than quantity of things. We are moving into a period where we will see an ever-increasing focus on personal development and contribution to society. People have been living like this for many decades, yet for the majority, it continues to be a challenge to balance work with lifestyle. The meaning of life is elusive, with the wealth of the 21st century providing humanity with many distractions. Technological advancements provide entertainment and lifestyle opportunities that only decades before did not exist. Practice being in the moment and experiencing the sensations, feelings, and emotions every moment has to offer. Our potential is limitless; we just have to be aware that our life is a function of our habits and manage them accordingly.
4. Realize That We All Experience Conditioning of Some Kind
“The only source of knowledge is experience”
— Albert Einstein
It’s important to be aware of how we are influenced by various communications, past experiences, situations, and emotions. Modern society and many of the individuals within it have lent themselves to being conditioned. Life and its great mysteries can be glossed over. Many of us end up confused, isolated, and questioning. Engaged in trivial activities or hedonistic pursuits, we try to distract ourselves from the deeper meaning of life. We are conditioned to see things as right or wrong, black or white, up or down. The teachings of the spiritual masters tell us that everything is perfect. Let’s enjoy the moment, life, and everything we encounter. Look for the serenity, beauty, and diversity in everything we do, see, and experience.
It is like the Zen story where the man walks into the butcher and says, “I want the best meat you have.” The butcher replies: “It is all the best.” Do you constantly seek the best this or that or are you content with what you have? Why do we want to compete, be stronger, faster, more successful, or whatever it may be? Who told us this was right? Once we step back and see how our conditioned states impact our lives, we can start to let go, and we can then move toward a place that is free — free from prejudice, hatred, and violence. We can move toward a place of love, compassion, and understanding.
5. Understand You Create Your Own Experiences
“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.”
— Aldous Leonard Huxley
Allowing ourselves to observe experiences allows us to make more informed and educated decisions. Observation is an important element in the development of our evolution. Much of today’s society revolves around ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’ and observing. Take notice of your experiences. Too often we overlook, turn away, and do not learn from our experiences. Rarely do we take a long, hard look at our experiences and learn from them. We walk right back into the same old patterns and bad habits.
Only by observing, as the great masters do, can we learn and understand that our experiences are neither good nor bad. It is how we perceive them and what we learn from these experiences that make a difference. We must ask ourselves, what did I learn from that experience and what can I take away from it? Why did this happen to me? What impact did my actions have on others and the environment? The choices we make and how we interpret interactions create our experience of life and determine what kind of life we live. Do we want to live a life of misery or happiness? Our thoughts control how we react to others and our environment. Only by understanding that we are in charge and control our own destiny can we move from a world of separation to one of connectedness, love, and compassion.
6. How Do You Live Your Life — Through Fear or Through Love?
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
To have a happy life is to live with love and release fear. Human beings are primarily motivated by two underlying emotions, love and fear. These two extremes influence every aspect of our lives. Fear is situated at one end of the spectrum while love is at the other end. On an economic and societal scale, we can see that entire industries are dedicated to and thrive on fear. Great masters understand that one who lives life through love can conquer all. Masters know that they have no need for approval; they are not attached to external forces or things, and understand that happiness, compassion, and love must be manifested within.
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