Best of the Best of the Best
In a recent workshop that was a bit of a fusion between twelve-step recovery, forgiveness practice, and spirituality, someone asked me what I thought was the “best of the best of the best” wisdom I had received in my journey. It produced a really interesting conversation with those in attendance, and caused me to continue to ponder the question. There is so much information that comes at us, from endless sources. It really can be quite difficult to discern.
As I’ve contemplated the issue, I finally arrived at what feels like the correct question. What wisdom or practices have made the biggest difference and why?
The first came to me from a book, The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy, which turns out to have been instrumental to Gandhi in his practice of non-violence, which in turn influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. However, Tolstoy’s thoughts were merely an entry point. I came to understand one thing I’d simply been unable to see. The twelve steps suggest that whenever we believe we have a problem, it’s not outside us, but with our inner relationship to the apparent problem.
The real problem is within us, so too is the solution. If you want to change anything externally, start within.
I was blown away that I had never truly understood. Nothing in the outside world is actually my problem. While I may need to take action to address or remedy something, all the important work is an inside job. That awareness has revolutionized my approach to life. I always look first to understand the source of my frustrations, anger, discontent and the like.
The second bit of wisdom emerges from the first. If it’s true that everything is an inside job, I can let you off the hook. There is no place for judgment or condemnation in my framework for living. And if that is true, then I likewise might as well surrender my opinions about life and my life as well. It turns out that most of my opinions are not just unhelpful, but irrelevant. No matter how I feel about something, it is unlikely to alter that thing in any way. People and life have their ways no matter what I may think of them.
Accepting life and people on the terms they offer is a magic elixir.
Once again, that does not mean I do not take action where it is warranted. Rather I can let go of my endless list of expectations and ideals, which allows me to deal with reality. Given that I now know I am often in denial or delusion, acting consistent with the way things really are is an amazing proposition.
Last, and perhaps most difficult has been the idea of one day at a time, or one moment at a time if you prefer. While there may be some value in surveying one’s past in order to gain better understanding, and value in planning simply for the sake of analyzing what we may intend to do, there is actually nothing other than the now. Even Albert Einstein said time is an illusion. But it took meditation practice to teach me just how distracted I can be as well as how sweet can be the moment in which we are hanging on the edge of the present.
Everything that matters is right here and right now.
All my troubles exist somewhere else.
When Eckhart Tolle uses the phrase for which he titled his book, The Power of Now, he is pointing us powerfully toward power. Someone once told me there is not God of yesterday or tomorrow. And yet, as any of us can attest, it is so very easy for our attentions to be elsewhere.
We have been invited to the party of life as privileged guests. It is not about us, or even for us. Yet we are beneficiaries.
Seeing True™ in Action
Nothing of significant benefit comes to us without effort on our part. At a minimum we must practice in order to progress.
What efforts will you make today? Why or why not?