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Going without, going within

imageTrusting that you all had a good Easter. For many of us it is a time for holidays, family, friends and for some a time of religious reflection. I enjoy Good Friday because any religion aside, it is a day when everything is closed and you have to make do with what you have.

One day of the year, apart from Christmas Day, where we have the opportunity to take stock of what is important to us. It’s actually fun, like when you were a kid going camping and had to improvise and be inventive.

Everyone breathes a big sigh of relief the next day, of course, when the shops reopen. We have become accustomed to our comfort zones and don’t like being taken out of them for too long.

imageOf course the Crucifixion is a symbol of Sufferance, the ultimate charity and Christ’s legacy is undisputed. By appreciating what we have and being prepared to extend charity on that behalf is the real message. Pay it forward.

May your Light shine for others to see and benefit.

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Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

imageIt was only yesterday that we saw the world through the eyes of our profession. Some of us still do, our identity defined by our contribution to the wheels of commerce, our aspirations limited by our financial returns from the machine of travail.

Education systems are now moving away from the ‘just in case’ scenario (where we learn the basics of different subjects) to the ‘just in time’ perspective (where we learn how to find the required knowledge if we need it).

The rise of the Internet has obviated the need to store all this information in our heads, with virtually all the knowledge available to man being accessible with the click of a mouse.

So how does this affect the way we see ourselves in a world that is changing rapidly, one in which students today are trained for jobs that have yet to be invented? Surnames that reflect our vocations such as Smith, Turner and Cooper no longer have their etymology rationale and seem to hark back to a time of lineage and class divisions that no longer apply.

The beauty of this ‘open source’ knowledge base is that the previous constraints no longer apply. A humble villager in an underdeveloped country now has the same access as a well-to-do silvertail. Higher learning is no longer the domain of the rich and innovation is becoming the order of the day as communication networks open up the final frontiers of ignorance and repressive thinking.

We are now global citizens with the means to redefine our existence by capitalising upon the information superhighway, whether by means of social media, webinars, courses and forums. Ultimately people are the most important asset for productivity and our self-esteem can now be boosted in so many ways. imageBeing able to contribute in a valued and meaningful way is the new métier of success and identity and the more fluid and adaptable we become in this new kaleidoscope of knowledge, the more the world will change with us and become the place of opportunity for man.

 

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Serendipity

imageIn the post of two weeks ago ‘Days like This’ we looked at alignment and being in the ‘zone’. A further unintended result can quite often be windfall events that are a bonus.

Good fortune can be nurtured by good intention, not as a linear causality but rather as an indirect expression of bounty or cornucopian vision.

If we are generous in our approach to our ‘dharma’ or ‘universal responsibility’, so too is the ripple effect that is created which in turn can be amplified through ‘resonance’ or ‘striking the right chord’.

There is an alchemical process at work here which cannot be directly manipulated but can be harnessed within a synergy of thought and action similar to an ‘offering to the gods’. As a byline an old joke comes to mind about the Christian priest and the Jewish rabbi. When asked about their methods of collecting donations for the Church, the priest replied that a plate is passed around the congregation and money is given to the Church whereas the rabbi said that they do the same with one small difference. After the plate has been passed around, the money is tossed into the air, God keeps what he wants and the remainder is kept by the rabbi!

Cynical attempts at exploitation of these energy principles will only backfire on the proponent, possibly with dire consequences resulting from the amplification effect. Fallen angels indeed.

So our intention here is key. Both purity and impurity will reap their own appropriate harvest. As we see the world, so too the world sees us. Yin and Yang, God and the Devil, saint and sinner are both sides of the same coin. Which of these you put your money on will pay out in kind.image

The jackpot lies somewhere in the middle.  Harmony and Balance will be the metrics that determine where it falls but it will be in there.

Many names have been given to it: Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise, etc.

May we all find it eventually.

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Saint or Sinner?

s1What comes to mind when the word ‘saint’ is mentioned? Holy? Beyond human fault? There are many interpretations. All of them, however, draw a line between mere mortals and those who have displayed the godly characteristics that differentiate them from ordinary people. We sometimes call somebody a saint when they go beyond the normal call of duty in serving their fellow man. ‘The patience of a saint’ is often used to describe the exercise of tolerance when most of us would have succumbed to the opposite.

The word ‘saint’ comes from the Latin ‘sanctus’ which means ‘holy’. To sanctify means to ‘make holy’ or ‘cleanse of sin’. Of course this sits perfectly with the concept of Original Sin, without which most of our Western religions would have little foundation. This highly unfortunate assumption has been one of the most powerful influencers in our view of the world. Karl Marx once stated that ‘religion is the opium of the people’ and in that regard it is highly self-serving to perpetuate the notion of Original Sin. It is not in a drug pusher’s interest to wean the addict from his addiction.

We tend to institutionalise our thinking when it comes to matters that seem to be out of our control and we surrender our power to a higher authority in the hope that they will ‘fix it’. In the same way that banks make multi-billion dollars profit by charging interest, if our mindset is mortgaged to an external power then the ensuing bondage is the interest. Little wonder then at the power of the Church.

Fundamentalism is as alive in the West as it is in the East. Even the ‘right to bear arms’ enshrined in the American Constitution is an endorsement of a basic xenophobia or mistrust of others that only serves to further entrench the division that is the basis of dualistic thinking. The Ku Klux Clan and Gun Lobby have no shortage of subscription and right-wing politics reinforce divisions in culture.

s2The internet is now serving as a great leveller in dispelling monopolies of thought as individuals gain access to freedom of communication and the former moguls of influence are quickly losing their stranglehold on the masses. There are many more Davids than Goliaths and our ultimate redemption lies not in a patented cartel of power but in the hands of the humble servant that answers our deepest prayers for love and understanding and returns the power to where it belongs, which is in your heart and mine.

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Days like This

chainFor those of us that haven’t read the book ‘Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance’ by Robert Pirsig, the point that the author was trying to get across was that quality, per se, is indefinable in that it is always a relative term. ‘Quality’ is determined by comparing one object or commodity with another one and the superior features and benefits displayed by one over the other will deem it be of a higher ‘quality’.

The ‘Zen’ part of the book looks at how we hoodwink ourselves into belief systems that don’t serve us well and begs the question of how we need to adopt a more wholistic viewpoint to be able to turn things around so that they work for us rather than against us.

The Zen approach is fascinating because it gets to the root of our own personal paradoxical paradigms (alliteration please) by questioning our sense of ownership of them. It is basically a process of letting go as opposed to implementation. It’s taking one step back, a deep breath, a moment to reflect, a refusal to identify with the momentum of that which we consider to be inevitable.

It is only when the various parts of our being are aligned in harmony that we can function at our best. Zen identifies with the target rather than the archer. This is visualization at its best. Avid watchers of ‘Kung Fu’ will remember the Master saying ‘Grasshopper, if you have no fear there is no place for the arrow to enter’.

Whether we refer to it as the ‘heart, body and soul’ or whatever, the alignment of our inner systems will determine our effectiveness in achieving our goals. There are many ways to assist this process, some of which are featured on this website.

frogFor must of us, we have the occasional ‘Days like This’ as in the Van Morrison song but they are few and far between. Personal Development programs can assist you to have these sorts of days a lot more often. This is the real benefit that keeps me coming back to this topic.

There are so many useful tools out there and so many ways to access them that we really should take advantage of whatever is useful for us to improve our lives. That the ‘world waits for no man’ points the way for us to become more proactive in shaping our own destiny.

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If tomorrow never comes…

epi As I write this, the world is waiting to find out what happened to the passengers and crew of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. At the same time the murderer of schoolboy Daniel Morcombe has been sent to jail for life with the tabloids screaming ‘Welcome to Hell’.

Whatever the outcome of our journey through life, one thing is clear. We are remembered for what we leave behind as a legacy to those that remain. Each moment we have is another step towards building that memory. The great kings, rulers and Pharoahs of the past knew this. The Taj Mahal and the Pyramids were built as tributes to the lives of those whose legacy was to be constantly remembered.

So we should ask ourselves how we would like to be remembered. Admittedly many of the great composers, artists and thinkers were not appreciated in their day and it was only after they had left the planet that their greatness was discovered. Does this make them any less great? On the contrary, they were valued even more highly because they were no longer available.

The full measure of our stature is only apparent when we are not there to be measured, we don’t appreciate something fully until it’s gone. Looking for validation of our success is a natural thing to do, however that success may not be recognised until we are no longer here. Perhaps that is the reasoning behind ‘rather than being a man of success, be a man of quality’.

Our own personal success may not be interpreted in the same way by others. The only absolute success is guaranteed by a sincere quality of feeling that we share with others. Whether it is appreciated at the time is not the true criteria. The quality of intent behind the actions that we perform is what builds the legacy we leave behind.
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This is called selfless service or dharma or the path of righteousness. It is the cornerstone of absolution for those seeking redemption and takes many forms but at the core the motive is the same and that is to put others first. The great heroes and martyrs of history are remembered in this way.

How will you be remembered?