Recently, I was walking by Thunderbolt Books, one of my favorite bookstores, and made the mistake of walking in. Why a mistake? Because I usually buy a new book when I’m there, and lord knows that I don’t need any more new books before I finish the 140 that are already in the queue, yeesh.
However, this one I could justify (totally!) because it’s a daybook — one short chapter per day. Piece o’ cake! Also, three different sources had recommended it to me, so I had to find out what the fuss was all about. I flipped through it and recognized instantly: it’s a keeper.
The entry I read today was particularly powerful, so I’d like to share with you some of the jewel-like lucidity of The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo:
January 20: Being Easily Pleased
One key to knowing joy is being easily pleased.
So many of us have been trained to think that being particular about what we want is indicative of good taste, and that not being satisfied unless our preferences are met is a sign of worldliness and sophistication. I remember being at a party where a woman wouldn’t accept her drink unless is was made with a certain brand of vermouth. She was, in fact, indignant about it. Or going to dinner with a colleague who had to have his steak prepared in a complex and special way, as if this particular need to be different was his special public signature. Or watching very intelligent men and women inscibe their circle of loneliness with criteria for compansionship that no one could meet. I used to maintain such a standard of excellence around the sort of art I found acceptable.
Often, this kind of discernment is seen as having high standards, when in actuality it is only a means of isolating ourselves from being touched by life, while rationalizing that we are more special than those who can’t meet our very demanding standards.
The devastating truth is that excellence can’t hold you in the night, and, as I learned when ill, being demanding or sophisticated won’t help you survive…
I’m going to buy me a stack of these and give them away to friends. So either become my friend, or go get thee thine own copy. I’ve been reading some great books recently, so more of these to come.
Dr Ali B
Here’s an interesting letter I got yesterday which applies to both men and women:
Hi Dr. Ali,
I just bought and read your book on my kindle this weekend and as a Persian girl, born in America, was wondering how you think your principles would work with Persian men? I am at a point where I am ready to settle down and it seems like all the Persian men just want to play around. I’m 28 and I see a lot of pretty, educated and single Persian girls over the age of 32. I sit and wonder what they are doing wrong (how are they still single?) and then stress out that I will end up like them.
The principles in your book make so much sense but it just seems like the Persian community has its own dating rules…what’s your take? Forget the Persian men who play around and start dating guys from all backgrounds? Thank you for your book, I look forward to implementing your advice. Looking forward to hearing from you — Mary M.
Well well well. I really hope some of you are out fishing right now, because we’re about to open up a big can of worms here. Let’s talk about dating within your tribe, and whether it’s a good idea or not.
First, let’s think about where these tribes come from. Until the 20th century, most people lived their entire (more…)
I want to share a quick story with you about something that happened at Trader Joe’s grocery store yesterday.
Lately, I’ve been teaching a monthlong mentoring program for the men entitled The Metamorphosis Program.
We keep a certain amount of material in the course secret for two reasons: it works better when it comes at you as a surprise; and mystery makes the course look cool.
Kidding aside, I do want to share with you one thing that I teach in the course. Namely, the answer to the question, “Who are you really?”
One of the three answers I suggest is “You are a conduit for the abundance of the universe.”
If you’re sufficiently confused by that answer to be thinking, “Umm, English please, doc,” then you’re on the right track.
Allow me to illustrate by continuing the story. If you’ve ever been to Trader Joe’s here in the US, one of their nifty features is that they always have a ‘freebie corner’ where they’re giving away free samples.
Most of the time it’s something that I don’t eat, but on this particular afternoon, they had samples of a chicken tikka masala. And it smelled gooood.
So I stood in line, and right behind me was a mother with her toddler sitting right in the shopping cart. The kid was getting a little antsy about the food, and mom was doing her best to calm him down.
My turn came, and the Trader Joe’s lady handed me my small plate with the free sample. And, seeing how I was not in a hurry, I handed it to the mom: “Here you go.”
The mom totally lit up with a heartfelt ‘thank you’ that I felt in my bones, all out of proportion to the gesture . A few seconds later I had my plate (delicious, by the way) and we were both on our merry shopping way again.
Now it’s not like I donated a zillion bucks to cure malaria here and Pope Benedict is going to fast-track my application to sainthood (which would actually require that I die first, so really – no thanks). I just passed on a free sample to someone who was behind me in line, who would have gotten it anyway in about 30 seconds.
But the reaction I got was all out of proportion to the deed – and it made *my* day. And perhaps made her feel good, too.
Now this story is a perfect demonstration of your being a conduit for the abundance of the universe. Let me explain.
The chicken sample was not really mine. It was a free sample to begin with. So I never really owned it.
By giving it away, I wasn’t losing anything, because I knew there was more of that where it came from.
And, lo and behold, when I gave it away, more did come my way, with interest: the mom & kid’s gratitude, and the little warming of my heart.
Well, guess what, boys and girls: that’s true of any kind of possession and giving in life.
You think you own stuff? Think again. You’re born naked and you leave the same way. Can’t take it with you, chief. And if the economic crisis of the past year has taught us anything, it’s “easy come, easy go.”
You can’t own stuff. But stuff can definitely own you.
Even if you had paid for the chicken, what makes it ‘yours’?
So the next time you’re thinking ‘my car’, ‘my house’, ‘my boyfriend’, ‘my girlfriend’, as if somehow there’s a stamp of ownership burning your name on that thing, you may wish to reconsider.
Because when abundance comes your way, you know that it’s just like that free sample – the bounty of the universe presenting itself to you through sheer luck.
Just as it would be silly to get too possessive of that morsel of free food once it lands in your hand – “this is my chicken now” – it would be equally silly to get hung up on any of your so-called possessions.
There is no fortune made on this earth, not one, that didn’t have to do with crazy, insane luck. So there’s no point in getting too attached or proud about what came to you through near-miraculous accident.
By realizing that you are a perpetual conduit for this abundance — a pipeline for the bounty of the universe — you keep yourself from gumming up the works and getting in the way of your own access to abundance.
Because the abundance is infinite! There’s far more stuff than you could consume in 10,000 lifetimes.
We’re not saying that you should make like Diogenes and give away all your earthly possessions and wear a barrel. And by all means, protect your garden fruit from the varmints.
Just don’t get *hung up* on stuff so much that its loss can make you unhappier than its presence can make you happy.
I always find it funny when people on the road (including myself) won’t let somebody in who’s trying to merge.
What, like we’re going to run out of road or something? Or you might get somewhere 4.3 seconds sooner?
There’s plenty of road to go around.
Now some of you who are reading this may be in tough spots right now.
And what I would say to you is act as if you really are a conduit for abundance. Don’t let this temporary state get in the way of your generosity, your open-heartedness, your openmindedness.
Get the wheel of giving turning, in whatever small way you can, and the wheel will inevitably come back to you. As my pastor likes to say, you can only have what you give away.
So start giving away more of that which you’d like to have! (‘Cause if you’re giving something away, it must mean you have lots of it, right? Twisted logic, but kinda true.)
And those of you who are not experiencing privation but are still feeling constricted – let’s get you re-started here.
Start by smiling at passersby. Then work up from there.
One of the most eloquent passages on giving comes from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:
“Then said a rich man, ‘Speak to us of Giving.’
And he answered:
‘You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy,
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes he smiles upon the earth.’”
And that’s everyday grace, my friends. Resolve to give of yourself daily and practice being what you really are – a conduit for abundance. The rest will take care of itself.
The power is within you
PS: Want to practice some giving right now that ain’t gonna cost you anything? Forward this message to someone whom you think would benefit from it.
One of the most moving visits of my trip was to the great city of Warsaw. In this video, I tell you exactly what made it so moving and how it relates to your personal resurrection.
Especially if you think you’re in a slump, down in the dumps, at the end of your rope, or embroiled in some other metaphor you don’t like, I encourage you to take a lesson from Warsaw. Renewal happens in an instant, and as the saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life.
As usual, if you like the video, please show me you’re alive! Rate it, comment on it, share it with friends via Facebook and Twitter, and embed it on your own website. You never know whom you’re going to touch with exactly the message that they need to hear at that moment. Here’s the link to send it along: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnZyLjthOqM
How to succeed in spite of the recession: Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra on ‘The Soul of Success’
When the going gets tough, the tough get meditating.
In these times of economic uncertainty, Marianne and Deepak had decided to transmit a message of spiritual and economic empowerment to their audience.
As a vivid demonstration of their commitment to helping their students, they offered scholarships to those who requested it. Several attendees had taken up the offer from places as far-flung as Florida and Tennessee.
Marianne has always believed in accommodating those seeking her teachings regardless of their finances, and she certainly practiced what she preached in this workshop.
I only had a vague idea of what the workshop would entail, but having had both Deepak and Marianne as teachers for many years, I implicitly trusted their message and method.
Marianne began with a powerful prayer and a 90min lecture exhorting us to (more…)
Recently I had the pleasure of reading a very interesting book on the inner workings of the human mind.
It’s by Jonathan Haidt, and it’s called The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. If you’re fascinated by the science behind how humans tick and how it relates to ancient wisdom, I highly recommend that you read this book.
Haidt mentions that in all cultures, human societies have been organized along two dimensions: hierarchy and closeness/liking. Call one the x-axis, the other the y-axis.
Hierarchy is simple enough: people have status according to their power, title, wealth or fame.
And closeness — what I will call kinship — is also straightforward. Society is organized according to friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances and strangers.
Haidt then introduces a third dimension: a dimension of the divine. All cultures seem to recognize some things as nobler, purer and more divine, and other things as profane and impure. (more…)
So one of the things I’ve always liked about Eastern wisdom in general and the Tao Te Ching in particular is its practicality.
Before, I associated spirituality with some guy in a long robe spewing stuff about crystal power and channeling dead ancestors and whatnot.
But here was this book — the Tao Te Ching — which gave you these paradoxical-sounding concepts that made your life better when you applied them. Crazy, huh.
Now, I’m a practical kind of guy, you see. Which means that I start out as a skeptic, test an idea, and see if it gives me results.
If it does, then hallelujah. Game on. That’s how I got into hypnotherapy, and that’s how I got into Eastern wisdom.
I call this ‘open-minded skepticism‘, and I encourage you to try it on for yourself. (more…)