Updated: Sep 2, 2019
In our society, the emphasis that is put on the development of the mind is so profound that anything “outside” the mind – feelings, love, intuitions, dreams, perceptions of connections with others – is not only rarely (or even never) taught at school, it is said to be ridiculous and subjected to mockery.
On the other hand, many people, including renowned scientists like Einstein, famous writers like Hemingway, world-known leaders such as Gandhi and spiritual teachers like the Dalai Lama, Buddha or Jesus Christ, tell us that the development of the heart is as important, if not more important, as the mind in allowing us to achieve a truly happy life. This path to happiness can lead to more success than by the ways we normally define achievement in our modern society (income, status, etc.).
In her amazing book “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles” international bestseller author Marianne Williamson writes*:
“‘God, please use me’ is the most powerful affirmation we can say for an abundant career. It is the miracle worker’s prayer. Everybody wants a great job. Accept that it’s already been given to you. The fact that you’re alive means a function has been assigned to you: open your heart to everyone and everything. That way you’re a vessel of God. Don’t worry about what to say or what to do. He’ll let you know.”
I was struck when I read this, as these are the exact same words used by Mother Teresa when she left her religious order to obey the words of Jesus Christ that she heard in her prayers. He was telling her to go take care of the poorest of the poor. She had absolutely no idea how to start, where to start or how to do this. She was 36 years old, came from a good upbringing and was doing good work in her order. But she did something that most of us would call very radical or even crazy. She quit everything she had and went to take care of the poor in the slums of Kolkata (you can read the full story here). When you see today what she has built (her organization is one of the largest in the world, present in more than 100 countries, has raised over $2 billion, and is still powerful and growing 10 years after her death), who can predict the same outcome for Apple 10 years after Steve Jobs’ passing? You can read this amazing story in my dear friend Ruma Bose’s book, here.
So what was so radical about Mother Teresa? Or about those scientists? And those leaders? They had faith. By walking in faith, Mother Teresa simply said to God, “I am the pencil, you write.”
From where we stand in our life – with our career, life, mortgage, friends, lifestyle, etc. – it seems like an impossible reach to even start dreaming about leaving all that. But in fact it is not. There are little things that you can implement in your life to access the state of being that leads to profound happiness and a life of personal achievement.
It starts with that faith. As Marianne says, “Open your heart to everyone and everything. That way you’re a vessel of God. Don’t worry about what to say or what to do. He’ll let you know”. It’s what, in your mind right now, you are probably labeling (yes we love labels) as “Blind Faith”. And blind faith for a majority of us is crazy and way too risky.
But stay with me here and consider a new possibility. Consider that Einstein, Hemingway and others were not 100% crazy and achieved in their life what they were meant to. In “A Movable Feast,” Hemingway writes about writing. He describes the difference between his writing a story and a story writing itself. When he finds himself writing the story, he knows it’s time to stop for the day. He recognizes he is not the writer. Powerful, no?
There is a “magical” power in having this kind of faith, true faith. It is a belief that goes beyond our traditional way of thinking where we believe WE need to decide what to do and how to do it. Traditionally, we rely on our brain/ego/thinking machine to guide us. This is our only truth. And outside of this everything is heresy! (This is how open minded our Western world is ;-))
So there is definitely a profound shift in living as described here. It’s a major leap of Faith to come from where we are and what we believe in and say, “I open to Love, I open to God (or whatever word you want to use), and I let ‘him/it’ write my life story.”
Sounds like we become passive in our own life? It’s quite the opposite, in fact. We are becoming active but from a very different source. The source change is the shift. You are relying on a bigger power; some call it God, some give it a name, some call it a “guardian Angel” and some call it their intuition or their luck.
What is very powerful here is that we can “relax” in the Faith instead of constantly fighting our own thoughts and worrying about our desires and unfulfilled needs.
It is such a radical idea for us in the West that the first time I heard it I pushed back really hard on it. I was not ready to let go of mycontrol on my life. Why? Because the control we “have” is what we so much identify with. I did this. I do this. I will do this.
This “I” that took over our destiny is called the “Ego mind” by eastern spiritual teachers. This “I” is so powerful that we think we are the “I”. It is not the subject of the discussion here (I will write on the ego mind soon) but there are many ways to realize easily that we are not that “I”. (Since I don’t want to let you hang out there without a little clue: Observe your thoughts when a thought arises, and ask the question, “Who is the observer?”)
Allow me to return to the point above on faith, true faith. This is a radical shift that you can make happen in your life. In order to have the guidance of true faith, it is necessary to return to a state that we had as a young kid and lost a long time ago through years of parental teaching, school education, mass media formatting and the conditioning of our brain and thought process. We have to come back to a place where “Love,” “Unity,” “Compassion,” “Connection with Others,” “Intuition” and “Gut Feelings” are the basis of Guidance. A place where our brain is only used to direct the original guidance and make things happen. But not a place where the thought process is the Guide.
Many practices, including meditation, mindful breathing, relaxation (including Yoga), creative work and manual work (painting, singing, gardening) can help to develop an inner state, an inner peace, that will let this Guidance arise. These practices create the foundation that allows the process to be. The process arises from inside our body, so our body needs to be a good vehicle for it. This means being relaxed. Many simple exercises can show you we are never relaxed, even when we are sleeping (another post for this too!).
There are also some very profound experiences – death, terminal illness, accidents, major catastrophes – which can bring about such an inner state very quickly or almost instantaneously. There are many people out there, including some famous speakers (check this great TED Talk), who have experienced this irreversible inner shift. They are now guided by a powerful inner voice, which I will call Love, but which they often call God.
I leave you with 2 quotes to reflect upon:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” – Albert Einstein
"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe." – St. Augustine
So are you ready to shift? Are you ready to embrace this new source of knowledge and take that leap of Faith with many others?Share your story back with me.
*Williamson, Marianne (2009-10-13). A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (Kindle Locations 2249-2252). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition