Master These 2 Things- Master Your Life

After spending years scouring self help books for the best and brightest techniques and insights, I have come to see that it is pretty simple. There are two things that determine the quality of our lives- the quality of our experience on this earth- as long or as short as it might be. People are generally not happy with their life and they look to their external circumstances to justify it. They blame their job, their financial situation, the government, their boss, their partner, society, etc. The issue becomes that if these external forces are really to blame for your difficult life, then why even try? Why not give up? These are 100% outside of our control. Well most people do give up and resort to life of bitching and moaning (and most certainly a life of quiet desperation). 

While the external circumstances might not be ideal or fertile. We do have control over two things that will ensure you reach your goals, dreams and ultimate destiny. Rather than spending all your time on things that are outside of your control (other people, institutions, society, etc), if you just focused each day on these two simple things- the quality of your life would be completely different. After a day or two, you might not see a tangible difference. Though after a year or two, you be in a completely different place and more importantly the trajectory of your life would be different. 

So what are these two things that will change your life, change your business, change your relationships and transform your existence on this planet?

 #1: STATE

Our moment to moment emotional state is the driving force in our life. It is the engine that propels the ship. Our emotional state dictates our perception about what is happening (the meaning we ascribe the external stimuli) and what we should/ how we should respond. Have you ever had a time where said something or did something so stupid and foolish that you thought to yourself “How could do that?” It wasn’t your intellect, it was your state. Out of a shitty emotional state- we do stupid things as humans. We hurt people, act irrationally, become enraged and lose control. 

The quality of our overall life is determined by the quality of our emotions that we consistently live in. The moment I understood this, and I mean REALLY understood it at the gut level- my life changed. I no longer stayed chained down to negative emotions. While the negative emotions still would show up, I refused to stay with them for an extended period of time. I intuitively knew that if I could spend the majority (90-95%) of my waking existence in states of love, peace, joy, curiosity, passion and playfulness, I would have a hell of a life and attract everything I needed in the world. Funny enough a year and half later- the shit I set out to get- came to me. I had an entirely new career. Met the love of my life. And have been more financially and emotionally prosperous than I ever had been in the past. And this didn’t come about because I micromanaged every action step along the way. It came to be as a result of who I had become and am still becoming. I raised my emotional vibration. I literally tuned into a different emotional “radio station”. This higher frequency is about having a different posture in your life- emotionally. 

People want to focus on what behaviors they need to change in order to reach their goals. Behaviors alone will not get you there. It is the quality of those behaviors that will determine your success and fulfillment. And the emotion is what drives and dictates the quality of your actions, behavior and experience. Without the right emotion, you’ve got nothing. Now with the right emotion, you can anything. Whether it is being creative, playful, determined or certain- you will find the way. And if there is not a way, you will make the way. Resourcefulness is the ultimate resource.

 When it comes to managing your state it comes down to 2 basic things.

1. Physiology. 80% of the way we feel can be attributed to the way in which we move our body. If we are stiff, rigid, breathing shallowly and frowning- you will be depressed. However if you master your physiology and condition yourself to smile, breath, relax and be energetic in your posture and gestures- you’ll be amazed at how good you feel. The quality of your life will be different. We tend to think that somethings that happen to us make us mad, sad or feel bad, when 80% of the time, our negative feelings are just a result of shifting into a shitty physiology. We just make the colossal error of attributing it to an external stimuli/event.

2. Focus. Our focus and attention determine our reality. And our focus is determined by our questions. We are unconsciously asking ourselves questions at every second of the day. We ask ourselves, “What does this mean?” and “What am I going to do?” This is how we make meaning of our external circumstances. The problem with our unconscious questions is that they tend to be looking at the problem and what’s wrong (in order to protect us and keep us alive). Therefore it is time to consciously take control of our focus and begin to master the questions we consciously ask ourselves. If we just ask our self a good question one time- we will get a temporary shift in focus. However if we repeatedly ask ourselves these empowering questions over and over- we will sustain a more lasting change in our focus. Focus is power. We get what we focus on. When driving your car, if you’re focused on hitting the wall- you will hit the wall. in order to direct our attention, we must master our questions. And here is a list of a few empowering questions that if asked (consistently) will shift your focus and ultimately your emotional state

-What is great about this?

-What am I proud about?

-What is the opportunity here?

-What else could this mean?

-How could I make this experience more enjoyable?

These are just a few questions. Mastering these questions in and of themselves will entirely change the complexion of your life. Now to the second thing that will change your life.

2. OUR MODEL OF THE WORLD

 This is the set of glasses you see the world through- your personal paradigm. This also includes your beliefs about who you are and what you believe you’re capable of (your identity).  Additionally it is also the beliefs you hold about the world as a whole- how the world works, your beliefs about other people and the meaning of life. If our moment to moment state is the engine of our ship. Our model of the world is the steering wheel. It directs and guides us and really determines our ultimate trajectory and destiny. Because if you have a belief that people are rotten. It is unlikely you will have fulfilling relationships, a successful business and a happy life. Yet if you believe everybody has something to offer you, you will be amazed at the opportunities that will be available in your life. Our model of the world effects us the most long term. If we have a limited model of the world- we might have a good year or 2, but our ceiling will ultimately be low and we will be entrapped by our limiting beliefs- just as an elephant is to the flimsy stake in the ground. 

This is what Tom Bilyeu calls “breaking out of the matrix”. I love his terminology because life is played on the 6 inch battlefield between our ears. As humans we like to imprison ourselves with our limiting beliefs. Therefore by understanding your current model of the world and its limits- you can break out of the prison of your mind and expand yourself and your life. 

A great book that will drastically shift and challenge your current model of the world is A Course in Miracles. The daily workbook exercises are also hugely beneficial for keeping your on track and helping your break out of the matrix. 

When it comes down to your own personal journey and transformation. We don’t need more knowledge. We need more insight. Most of self help and personal development focuses on knowledge and information. While insight is the process of challenging and expanding one’s model of the world and exposes their beliefs that keep them chained in the prison of their mind. 

What’s in Your Bag of Shit?

I was listening to Neil Strauss the other day on Tom Bilyeu’s youtube interview series called “Inside Quest” and something he said really stuck out to me. He said that we all carry around a “bag of shit” or in other words- some story we’ve made up about our unworthiness or how we’re unlovable.  Then we operate and interact with the outside world looking for evidence to add to our “bag of shit” and to support our dis-empowering story we have made up about ourselves.  We will even fabricate and alter certain events through our own skewed perceptive filter just to support our story and give us a sense of certainty that we are right. We then often times use this “bag of shit” we carry around with us to motivate us to achieve more, acquire more or to hunt for the perfect spouse or partner.  We really believe that if we get that prized possession or relationship- then we will finally be enough, lovable or feel good about ourselves. Some people spend their whole life seeking the very thing they believe will help them let go of and forget about their “bag of shit”.  The irony is that as long as you are holding onto the bag of shit and keep your inferiority saga in the recesses of your mind, nothing and no one will ever give you the feelings of being enough or being lovable. 

 

The only way to free yourself from this trap is to let go of your bag of shit and to become aware of the narrative that is running your life. The old story is driven by fear, lack and scarcity. If you don’t believe you are enough right now, no amount of money, fame, relationships, or anything outside of you will ever be able to give you the feelings of security, significance and love you are seeking. Those external rewards only magnify the relationship you have internally with yourself. If you love yourself, feel worthy and have a loving and compassionate relationship with yourself- then you will have healthy and loving relationships with others, money, possessions, etc. 

 

What is largely running people in our world is an error in self definition. A major error. A colossal mistake in perception and judgement. People use money, relationships, power, status, jobs, religious affiliation and much more to define themselves. They create a fictional game about how their person-hood and self worth is tied to their success or effectiveness in one or more of these areas. The issue with this approach to defining yourself is these external things are largely, if not completely outside of our control. One of my favorite authors, Robert Greene says that we only have control over 5-6% of what happens in our world and experience on this earth. ONLY 5-6%. He also affirmed that the way to best impact our world is to only focus and exert our energy in that small window (5-6%) of where we actually have control. Therefore if we maximize our focus, attention and energy to improve and affect only what we can control, then we will be able to change our circumstances and impact the world. Where most people go wrong is they spend the majority of their time, attention and energy on the 94-95% of things that are 100% outside of their control. This leaves them powerless and victims of their circumstances.  Therefore if you are going to define yourself and base your identity on your job, relationship, status or any external thing, you are due to be a slave to circumstances, others and the world. As Joe Donnelly says, 

 

“You can either be the CEO of your own life or you can be life’s employee”. 

 

I am not proposing that you say “hell with it” to creating a business, forming relationships, making money or seeking things externally. I am just warning you of the trap of being attached to those external things. And more importantly the emotional death you will experience if you tie your identity to them and sell your soul for them.  I have been in relationships where I put my girlfriend up on a pedestal and derived my sense of self from being her boyfriend. At first it was an exhilarating rush of oxytocin, but it soon became pure slavery. Obligations, ownership, and expectations within the relationship crippled my ability to do anything else in the world and to feel like I was living my true purpose. 

 

What I am proposing is balance. Like the Samurai warriors of ancient Japan, they embodied balance probably better than anyone. On one hand they were very masculine, tough, hard-driving and resilient. They were some of the toughest and most skilled warriors in the history of the world and they protected their villages by killing and eliminating the enemy. Yes this was their rigid and strong masculine side. However they did not live 100% of the time on this side of their nervous system. They also had a feminine side, which was more flowing, compassionate and flexible. They would write poetry, dance, play the flute and make love to their wives. They intuitively understood that they needed to balance their lives and their nervous systems in order to be the most fulfilled, the happiest and healthiest they could be. 

 

If they lived 100% of the time in their masculine warrior motif, they would have died much younger. The cortisol would have be firing at all times and this inevitably would have decreased their lifespan and diminished their overall level of life satisfaction. Conversely they innately knew that operating in the feminine side of their nervous system was going to give them fulfillment and rejuvenate their soul and spirit. 

 

All too often today we see individuals lack balance. They are all Type A power, strength and aggression. Sure they might achieve some pretty great success, but at what price? At the price of their enjoyment and fulfillment on this earth?  Then we see others who operate on the other side of the dialectic. They are accepting, flowing and peaceful. Yet they have no drive and contribute very little to the world. Finding the middle of the paradox is a way to strike a balance and achieve both the science of success and the art of fulfillment. 

 

Life is the most hilarious and ironic teacher around. We set a goal and we invest everything into that goal, only to find out that once we actually attain the goal, that the very goal/prize itself is not what we really wanted after all. Here are some higher values that I believe are the things we are really after:

 

1. Flow– a level of presence, creativity and mindfulness of enjoying an activity/interaction just for the sake of engaging in it. 

 

2. Contribution– the secret to living is giving. PERIOD. Nothing lights up and energizes the human spirit like giving and serving a fellow man.  Depression, anxiety and all forms of mental health impairments vanish when one looks to give and contribute.

 

3. Growth– I don’t care how many friends you have, how successful you have been- if you are experiencing progress in your life- you are dying. What does the Bible say? “Where there is no vision, the people perish”

 

4. Who we become. It is not the accolades, money, possessions that truly fulfills us at the end of the day, but it is rather the person we have to become in order to solve those problems and achieve those goals. The ultimate satisfaction in life is complete 100% CONGRUENCE. Living in alignment with your values is the ultimate fulfillment. 

 

 

Let Me Know This Brother As I Know Myself

Think about your everyday life and all the people you come into contact with. You probably interact with family, loved ones, relatives, friends, co-workers and a lot of strangers- clerks, waiters, mailmen, etc. We have perceptual filters that discriminate these various relationships in our lives. When we see our best friend or a close family member, we have a certain emotional-gut level reaction that tells us unconsciously, “this person is important to me”. This is natural. Then when we are walking down a street and see a stranger- we might glance at them and walk right- forgetting about them almost immediately. We don’t get that unconscious signal “this person is important to me”. These are normal. Our brain functions through an endless quantity of shortcuts to ensure our survival. Ironically, these very shortcuts and inevitably discriminating perceptual filters that our minds automatically utilizes are also responsible for our suffering. Yes, while the brain is extremely effective at keeping us alive, it is equally as ineffective at making us happy. 

Just imagine you’re a single guy or a single girl. Hell, maybe you are and you don’t have to pretend. You have a general idea of which members of the opposite sex you attracted to- physically speaking. So if you walk into a store or a restaurant, you generally will look around and see if anyone in there is attractive. I’ve done this thousands, if not millions of times. It is like our brain has some sort of radar for what we want. This same effect even occurs in social and financial ways too. You see someone who is dressed a little ragged and your filter will ignore them. However if someone walks into the room dressed nicely and seems to be somewhat important or prestigious- you might ask yourself the question- “Who is he/she? What can they give me? What can they do for me?”  In every area of our life, we tend to filter our experience based on who can meet our needs. Our needs for love/connection, our needs for significance, our need for survival (money). Therefore automatically, our brain is filtering out at least 90% of the people we come across in an average day- they just are pertinent to meeting these needs. You walk by someone you find to be ugly and not particularly well dressed and you pay no attention to them whatsoever. Your brain is unconsciously filtering the experience and directing you to not pay attention to them by saying “This person can do nothing for me and give me nothing”.  Though this is logical for the sake of our survival- it is hugely detrimental to our emotional well being and the way we operate in the world. The selective attention we pay to certain people is holding us back and might just be the root of our unhappiness and angst as a human specie. Here is why.

When we selectively attend to only people we think can give us something or advance us in some way- we are inherently going to be fearful. You might ask, “why is that? Doesn’t it only make sense to interact people who can help to better our own lives?” While the answer might be yes, when we operate solely from the paradigm of ‘what can you do for me?’ you are going to live in a high degree of fear. The ‘looking to get’ attitude is a fear based paradigm to  operate with in the world. And when you only pay attention to attractive or high status people and ignore less desirable people- you are training your brain to be in “getting mode”. Living in ‘getting mode’ ultimately equates to fear. Because what happens if you don’t get what you are going after? Feelings of loss come over you. And fear always precedes such feelings of loss.  Coming to any situation with the posture of wanting or getting is likely to be rooted in some underlying fear. That is why when we are unconsciously “screening” people in our external world, we are actually conditioning ourselves to live more fearfully. When we hone in on people who can give us what we want or we perceive to be of higher value, we are really just setting expectations for the outcomes we want. Such expectations or rules are due to lead to disappointment at some point. The external world is not going to meet our expectations 100% of the time. Expectations tends to lead to fear and resistance. If you are only wanting a blue box and you don’t want a green box. You are going to be resistant of the green box and inherently fearful that you might not get the blue box that you are so desperately seeking. The actual better strategy for getting your outcomes that you desire is to understand that whether you achieve your goal or not, you are going to be perfectly okay. This is all about ‘blending’ with ‘what is’.  Instead of being attached to your precise and rigid goal, being flexible and knowing how to utilize the less than perfect results that ensue is a more effective strategy. Tony Robbins has said, 

“Trade your expectations for your appreciations and your world changes instantly”

Gratitude is one antidote to this dilemma of coming from a place of ‘wanting’ or ‘getting’.  When you segregate your social attention to only those who can advance your own agenda, you are not being grateful for everyone else in the world- which is probably at least 95% of the population. Whether it be the clerk at the department store, the check out lady at the grocery store or the security guard in your building- when you are not grateful for each and every human life you come into contact with- you are slapping God in the face. Not only that, you are conditioning yourself to be more fearful and less happy. 

Taking the time to interact with each and every person you come into contact with in the same way- at the level of their humanity- is possibly the most overlooked theme of our culture. We see the rest of the world as strangers and ignore them. We see someone not dressed like us and we want to have nothing to do with them. We are so concerned with getting our own narcissistic needs met that we turn our head to 95% of the human beings that are walking this globe with us.  

The irony of this conversation is that if you lived your life in an inclusive manner and treated each and every person you interacted with as if they were the most important person in the world, you would have everything you needed in the world. Those relationships with the “important people” who you think you are going to get something from- would be even more abundant. You would be getting everything you need and a million times more. Wealthy, prestigious and attractive people would be drawn to you at even a higher rate because you would be living without fear. Seeing the humanity in each and every person would eliminate one’s scarce mindset. If you believe everyone in this world is valuable, then there is no fear of missing out or getting rejected or not getting your specific outcome. 

By treating every person you come into contact with as the “most important person in the world”, you are shifting your paradigm from one of ‘wanting’ or ‘getting’ to one of ‘giving’. This giving posture eliminates all fear and scarcity. When you are treating each and every person as important- your focus is on giving and showing them love and respect. You are not focused on what you can get from them or what they can give you. Zig Ziglar perfectly captures this idea when he said:

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want”.

By changing your perceptual filter from one of selective attention to one of all encompassing love towards all of humanity is a life changing paradigm shift. It goes against our evolution as a specie. We were meant to see others and outsiders as threats. However in this day and age, that threat is exponentially diminished. We don’t have to live in fear. We don’t have to live in scarcity.  There is so much abundance in this world, however we cut of our access to it right at the moment we create these made-up rules in our life that “only these people can give me what I want” or “only this will make me happy”.  People view opportunities as scarce and limited. However, by adopting this paradigm, every person, interaction, event is an opportunity. 

The final thing that adopting the paradigm of “Let Me Know This Brother As I Know Myself” is that it also strengthens your relationship with yourself. Your internal communication and level of self acceptance improves a million times when you adopt this way of being. When you go out into the world and see each and every person as your brother or sister, you are reaching a level of total acceptance. Don’t confuse this with approval. I am not saying you should condone of a murderer’s behavior, however you can accept each and every person at the level of their humanity and accept their weaknesses and shortcomings. When you can get to this level of accepting other people’s shortcomings and blind spots- you are simultaneously accepting your own weaknesses. When we reject other human beings, we are really just rejecting a part of ourselves. We are all composed on millions of different parts. Some strong, some weak. Some good, some bad. In order to master our internal communication and relationship with ourselves- we must accept all of our different parts. By loving and accepting each and every person we come into contact with, we are transforming our relationship with our self. See yourself in others and the world will start to conspire in your favor. It is really weird how life works out when you start to see the best in everyone and begin to accept their flaws. 

This is the portrait of full congruence. Accepting all parts of oneself- both good and bad. Ironically, this is also the first step to changing anything about yourself. If your external world does not fit your blueprint, it is not the external world that needs to change. It is you and your blueprint that needs to change. Our paradigm in which we operate in this world runs our life. This is why happy people tend to be happy despite what kind of shit happens in their life. It is also why angry people tend to get angry irrespective of all the good that might happen to them. 

The first step to shifting your paradigm and changing your model of the world is to admit that you are wrong. Yes you are wrong. This is the step that most people never get past. They would rather be right and miserable, then wrong and liberated. If you really want a new life you must admit that all your prior perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and thoughts are erroneous. It is about wiping the slate clean and living in the perplexing reality that the world you have been experiencing for the past however many years of your life is nothing more than your own distorted view of the world. 

Letting go old beliefs about yourself and the world is one of the most challenging things a person can do in their lifetime. It is the only way to a different life. It is the only way to more peace, love, freedom, enthusiasm, contribution and growth. 

 

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I: Reality and Subjectivity by David Hawkins

This is the third book in David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force trilogy. His first book in the trilogy is Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (1994) and the second book is The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden. I have highlighted the first two books in prior weeks and though there is a lot of repetitive material, I highly recommend reading the third book I: Reality and Subjectivity.  Reading this trilogy is not an exercise in accumulating more knowledge, rather it is a practice in advancing one’s level of consciousness. Just the mere experience of reading Hawkins’ work can shift you at an emotional level and raise your consciousness.  I spent the last three months reading this whole trilogy. I would spend on average 30-60 minutes a day just letting his words wash over me. When you sit down with these dense books, it is best to read them slowly and be patient with your comprehension of the material. Insights will come to you that you have never thought before- I guarantee it. It is a spiritual experience. Personally, I see it as a form of meditation and consciousness building.

I am not going to go into great detail about the content of this third book, because the experience of reading it for yourself is going to be transformative for you. I however did want to share a fair amount of passages from the book which I found to meaningful.

Profound Passages

“There was the ability to perceive the reality that underlay personalities and that the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities” (xx)

“The Presence is silent and conveys a state of peace that is the space which and by which All Is and has its existence and unfolds. It is infinitely gentle and yet like a rock. With it, all fear disappears. Spiritual joy occurs on a quiet level of inexplicable ecstasy. The experience of time stops; there is no apprehension or regret, no pain or anticipation. The source of joy is unending and ever present. With no beginning or ending, there is no loss or grief or desire. Nothing needs to be done as everything is already perfect and complete.” (xxv)

“People wonder ‘How does one reach this state of awareness’, but few follow the steps because they are so simple. First, the desire to reach the state was intense. Then began the discipline to act with constant and universal forgiveness and gentleness, without exception. One has to be compassionate towards everything, including one’s own self and thoughts. Next came a willingness to hold desires in abeyance and surrender personal will at every moment. As each thought, feeling, desire or deed was surrendered to God, the mind became increasingly silent. At first, it released whole stories and paragraphs, then ideas and concepts.  As one lets go of wanting to own these thoughts, they no longer reach such elaboration and begin to fragment while only half formed. Finally it was possible to surrender the energy behind the very process of thinking itself before it even became thought” (xxvi)

“There is also the path to sudden enlightenment, which may occur in a seemingly spontaneous manner or as a result of meditation or some spiritual practice, or merely by being in the presence of an enlightened teacher.  Great leaps in consciousness result from surrendering oneself to God at great depth. This is seen in our society in people who have hit rock bottom. Willfulness/pride surrenders and transformation occurs. From the pits of hell, paradoxically, heaven is close by… Thus many levels of consciousness can be transcended. These are often preceded by long periods of inner agony.” (19)

“People hate me” stems from one’s own inner hatreds. ‘People don’t care about me’ stems from one’s narcissistic absorption with one’s happiness and gain instead of that of others. “I don’t get enough love” stems from not giving love to others. “People are rude to me” stems from lack of cordiality to others. “People are jealous of me” arises from inner jealousy of others. Thus, if we take responsibility for being the author of our world, we come close to its source where we can correct it. By being loving toward others, we discover that we are surrounded by love and lovingness. When we unreservedly support life without expecting gain, life supports us in return. When we abandon gain as motive, life responds with unexpected generosity. When we perceive in this way, the miraculous begins to appear in the life of ever spiritual aspirant. Harmony manifests as the unexpected discovery, the fortuitous coincidence and the lucky break, and finally the realization occurs that these are the ripples coming back to oneself from the seat of consciousness” (22) 

“In reality, nothing thoughts say about oneself or others have any reality. All statements are fallacious and represent programming and positionalities. There are also positive statements about one’s worth, merit, or value that are equally based on fiction. The true self is invisible and has no characteristics by which it can be judged.” (25)

 

“Goal fulfillment is self-rewarding if the goal of the aspirant is one of direction. Then a life dedicated to God is endlessly self fulfilling, whereas, in contrast, a life devoted to gain is full of pitfalls and suffering” (26)

“It is necessary to examine the nature of an attachment.  It is based on a belief and a desire. The belief is that a mental content will bring happiness and solve problems; therefore, the attachment is to the implied promise that it is the thinking itself that is the road to happiness (success, wealth, love, etc). To let go of the thinking therefore seems frightening because it is also seen as the main tool of survival; plus, it is ‘me’. As ‘me’, it is viewed as unique, personal and precious, and it constitutes the main data base of identification of ‘who I am’. The fear of the loss of self- identity brings up resistance. As we get closer to the discovery of the source of the ego’s tenacity, we make the amazing critical discovery that we are enamored with our self.  Even if thoughts are loaded with pain and failure and have been a disaster and source of suffering, we still cling to them because they are who I am, resulting in love/hate relationship with them. To ensure its survival, the self also learned how to juice satisfaction and energy from the negative emotional states. It thrives on injustice, martyrdom, failure and guilt. The ego secretly loves and clings to the position of victimhood and extracts a distorted pleasure and grim justification from pain and suffering. This can be seen in many cases as an addiction and a lifestyle. All along we have been in love with our thoughts and we cherish them. We defend them and make excuses for them. We are jealous of our beliefs. We prize them and alternately despise and punish ourselves with guilt and self hatred. Altogether, it is infatuation. The self-image gets glamorized because it is the stage upon which the drama of our life parades. To let go of love brings up fear of loss. To the self, all love objects are seen as a source of happiness. The next core problem is letting go of emotional love- not because of the love itself, but because of the attachment to that which is loved. We think that the loss of a love object brings grief, but actually, the grief is about the loss of the attachment itself, which is due to viewing the object of love as the source of happiness. Grief is due to the illusion that one has lost a source of happiness, and that the source of happiness is ‘out there’. If one looks at the feeling of happiness, it becomes clear that it is actually located within, although the trigger may appear to come from outside oneself; the sensation, however, is totally an inner feeling of pleasure. The source of happiness is therefore actually within and is released under favorable circumstances when the mind experiences a desired outcome. By inner examination, one will discover that the event merely triggers an inner innate capacity. With the discovery that the source of happiness is actually within one’s inner self and therefore cannot be lost, there is a reduction of fear. Viewed from reality, thoughts are actually an ‘out there’. Although it may sound amazing, they can totally be dispensed with because they interfere with the achievement of true happiness” (40-41)

Some Axiomatic Positionalities of the Ego

Phenomena are either good or bad, right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair.

The ‘bad’ deserve to be punished and the ‘good’ rewarded.

Things happen by accident or else they are the fault of somebody else.

The mind is capable of comprehending and recognizing truth from falsehood.

The world causes and deternines one’s experiences.

Life is unfair because the innocent suffer while the wicked go unpunished.

People can be different than they are.

It is critical and necessary to be right.

It is critical and necessary to win.

Wrongs must be righted.

Righteousness must prevail.

Perceptions represent reality (45)

“Surrender is a constant process of not resisting or clinging to the moment but instead, continuously turning it over to God. The attention is thus focused on the process of letting go and not on the content of ‘what’ is being surrendered.” (48)

“The Source of joy of spiritual endeavor stems from the work itself and is not dependent on outcomes or the achievement of goals.The replacement of resentment with peaceful acceptance is its own reward. There is a progressive alteration in one’s view of self and others. When this happens, one’s life story can then be re-contextualized from a more compassionate understanding” (53).

 

“The ‘politically correct’ activists seem to precipitate an endless series of social conflicts and strife. What is the core of the problem?  They are elitist and calibrate at 180, the level of pride and vanity of egotism.  The error is again one of ignoring context. Although supposedly egalitarian, they paradoxically adopt superior attitudes and pose as high moral ground. They attempt to gain power and control over others by romanticized idealism.” (62)

 “What is the best attitude to view society? One of compassionate benevolence. The average person’s psyche is overwhelmed by layers of programmed belief systems of which they are unaware. Out of naivete and the belief in the principle of causality, the supposed causes and their solutions are sough ‘out there'” (81)

“It is actually more exciting because one learns to live on the crest of the current moment instead of on the back of the wave, which is the past, or on the front of the wave, which is the future. There is greater freedom from living on the exciting knife edge of the moment than being a prisoner of the past or having expectations of the future. If the goal of life is to the very best one can do at each unfolding moment of existence, then, through spiritual work, one has already escaped the primary cause of suffering. In the stop frame of the radical present, there is no life story to react to or edit.” (94)

“Compassion and forgiveness do not mean approval” (113)

“We that trying to overcome the ego without really understanding it brings up guilt, self-condemnation and other negative feelings, which is one of the main reasons why many people are reluctant to become involved in spiritual work. Because of this, people are afraid to be honest with themselves and tend to project the downside of the ego onto others or even onto God” (113)

“Humility and surrender at great depth, as well as prayer, can shorten the process. The seeming duration of time is because one is looking for a result. Even when the ego’s energies have been disconnected, its momentum seems to need to run out. For instance, when a giant ship, such as a great tanker, stops its engine, it often continues for several miles farther before it finally comes to stop.” (120)

“What characteristics facilitate comprehension and transformation? Dedication, devotion, faith, prayer, surrender and inspiration. When the barriers are relinquished, Truth reveals itself spontaneously” (135)

“What does the Self feel like? It is central, solid, profound, still, immutable, nonlocal, diffuse, all encompassing, peaceful, tranquil, comfortable, secure, emotionless, joy, infinite lovingness, protection, closeness, safety, complete fulfillment and ultrafamiliar” (138)

“How does one then live in the world? One participates but is not involved in or attached to it. One can observe without being judgmental. Detachment would require withdrawal from the world, whereas nonattachment allows participation as there is no stake in outcomes. The game is entertaining, but which side ‘wins’ is of no importance.” (146)

“By analogy, fear arises from perception, and its concomitant is a release of adrenaline. Discovering where adrenaline arises from in the body does not explain fear because adrenaline is merely a consequence and a concomitant, not the cause, which has already occurred in the consciousness field of perception. It would be naive to assume that to discover where joy is experienced by the brain is the cause of that joy. The brain and its physiology exist within the world of form, and spiritual states originate within the nonlinear reality of nonform.” (148)

“True spiritual authority is rooted in Truth and thus has no need or desire to be authoritarian.  It has no argument nor does it have a desire or a need for acceptance.  It would be a misuse of spiritual power to try to use it to control the minds of people. Authoritarianism is intrinsically insecure and therefore has to insist on agreement with its belief system; it is the antithesis of freedom” (160)

“To successfully transcend the seeming opposites, it is only necessary to see that what appear to be two different or opposing concepts are actually just gradations of possibilities that change quality as they progress along a single base line of perception” (169)

“How did a good God create a world that includes evil?’ The answer, of course, is that He did not. The seeming opposites exist in the mind of man as perceptions and positionalities.” (173)

 “Detachment from positionalities, and especially the positionalities occasioned by labeling, leads to serenity, freedom and security. Greater serenity arises from relating to the context of life, rather than to the content which is primarily a game board of interacting egos. The broader style of relating to life leads to greater compassion and emancipation from being at the effect of the world” (179).

“The human psyche becomes attached to qualifying and rating everything on arbitrary social scales of desirability, appeal or value. Whole lives can become devoted to pursuing some mystique in which subtle distinctions become inflated and sought after for their social symbolism. This can lead to an endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth and symbols of endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth, and symbols of distinctions, as well as the need to be right about everything” (187).

“To undo the endless sequences of wanting and craving, it is useful to dissemble them by doing an exercise called “and then what?” I want (a better job, more money, better car, college degree or whatever), followed by the question, “and then what?” It will be found that the answer is always the final belief that “and then I will be happy”. (190)

“There is a great joy in the realization that one does not actually need anything at all to be happy, not even external stimuli, such as television, music, conversation, or the presence of other people or activities” (191)

“The common element  of most fears is that they are based on the illusion that happiness is dependent on externals and therefore vulnerable.  To overcome the illusion of vulnerability brings great relief and the correction of being run by fear so that life becomes benign and filled with satisfaction and an easy-going, confident attitude instead of constant guardedness.  Cessation of fear is the result of learning that the source of happiness and joy is from within. It stems from recognizing that its source of joy is one’s own existence, which is continuous and not dependent on externals.  This results from surrendering expectations and demands on one’s self, the world and others. The thought ‘I can only be happy if I win or get what I want’ is a guarantee of worry, anxiety and unhappiness” (200)

“Thus, poverty is not basically a financial condition but is instead a concomitant and consequence of a specific level of consciousness that cannot be cured by financial assistance. More often, financial aid worsens the poverty as it gives a stimulus to the already excessive birth rate which then brings even further poverty” (206)

“Healthy self interest includes concern for the welfare of others, whereas selfishness disregards others. Self-interest is not destructive to others and is therefore integrous and increases self-esteem. Egotism is separatist and seeks gain at a cost to others, leading to a loss of inner self-esteem. It is therefore vulnerable, non-integrous, and an illusory self-inflation that leads to loss of self-respect” (234)

“The attachment to love is really the trap and the barrier to enlightenment. In Reality, love is freedom, but attachment to love is a limitation” (281)

“This illustrates the phenomenon of entrainment which was described in Power vs. Force. Clinically, this phenomenon is well-known in twelve-step recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in which the aspirant is advised to “just keep going to meetings and you will get it by osmosis.” Exposure to the group’s aura (at 540) results in the miracle of recovery. It takes a very powerful energy field to overcome the very strong entrapment of addiction. As long as the sober person stays within the protection of the field, sobriety continues, but relapse occurs if they leave unless their own calibrated level of consciousness has advanced to the necessary level of 540.” (306)

“The ego’s addiction and survival are based on the secret pleasure of negativity, which cannot be abandoned until it is first recognized, identified and owned without shame or guilt” (311).

“The ego’s focus is narrow and constricted by intention, which is therefore selective. It constantly seeks ‘problems’. To the ego, everything can be seen as a problem. As a consequence, the ego’s evaluation of situations is often prone to very serious error and miscalculation” (318)

“The ego is potentially deadly and would rather see you dead than admit it is wrong” (319)

“While the world may have the expectation that the life of a spiritually committed person should be holy and tranquil, quite often the opposite may occur. The karma is activated and brought up into awareness. Major changes may occur in the aspirant’s life and relationships. For some years, life may appear to be tumultuous as profound inner changes take place. These may involve lifestyle, vocation, relationships, and possessions, all of which may rapidly come and go. Change in geographic location is common. Friends and family in the world may think the devotee has gone mad, left reality and gone overboard” (337)

“Enlightenment means that the former personal identity and all that had been believe about it have been erased, removed, transcended, dissolved and displaced. The particular has been replaced by universal, qualities have been replaced by essence, the linear has been replaced by the nonlinear, and the discrete has been replaced by the unlimited” (346)

“Man thinks, but thinking is a two edged sword. The bird flies about, enjoying its life and does not need to study ornithology or even know that it is a bird.  It doesn’t need to understand or know anything because it just is.

“Any approach will reveal that attachments are the core problem to be overcome through relinquishment. The problem is not money, or sex or pleasure but the attachment to them, plus the illusion that the source of happiness is external, which brings up fear of loss.” (349)

“Attachment is a very peculiar quality of the ego. It can be totally undone in all its pervasive and multitudinous forms of clinging by simply letting go of one’s faith in it or belief in its value as a reality. This one giant step is a confrontation to being unaware of one’s attachments. The attachment to ‘self’ or ‘me’ or ‘I’ is a basic trap. The mind is attached to the very process of attachment itself as a survival tool.” (350-351)

“Humor is a means of detachment or re-contextualizing the events of life.  It is a way of being light hearted and wearing the world like a loose garment.  It leads to compassion for the totality of human life and reveals the option that one can play at life without getting involved in it as though it were an exhausting life-and-death struggle. Humor is inclusive of life and is a level of compassion. Indifference, in contrast, is exclusive of life. Humor allows for participation; indifference leads to nonparticipation.  Humor enjoys while indifference yields flatness and ennui” (354-355)

“One has to discern the difference between ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’. All so-called rights are merely privileges that are granted by societal agreement. To understand that concept spells the difference between gratitude and arrogance.  The illusion of rights is an ego inflation which can lead to a narcissistic positionality of entitlement, with its hostile, demanding, unappreciative, and paranoid attitudes. One cannot acquire rights by oneself; they are an earned gift from free society.” (377)

 “The way to truth is via radical honesty” (383)

“The rebirth of the eog/self/I occurs again every morning upon awakening. With observation, one can see that awareness returns at first as merely the return of conscious awareness. As the identifications slowly reappear, one becomes aware of location, but the awakening mind doesn’t even know what day it is. Then it slowly again identifies with the world, place, time and name and all the past identifications return from memory.” (385-386)

“It is useful to pretend that one has no memory” (386)

“Nonattachment does not mean passivity or nonaction; thus, one can take a stance in the world to defend innocence as a commitment to the integrity of truth.  As we saw prior to World War II, the passivity and naivety of Neville Chamberlin invited Nazi aggression to pursue the rabbit. In mountain country, everyone knows that to run from the mountain lion invites its attack. If life is sacred, then to defend life is aligned with the will of God, and it is not intrinsically an act of aggression” (396)

“The inner ‘high’ of righteous indignation, being right or hating enemies turns out to be disappointing in hollow illusions of victory.  The mature spiritual aspirant is one who has explored the ego’s options and false promises of happiness.  The ego’s final song, after examination, is represented by a famous singer’s poignant song, “Is This All There Is?” (397)

The Absolute Worst Thing You Can Do When You Feel Down or Depressed

Over the course of the past 5 years I have read a lot of books on emotions, depression, peak performance, anxiety and overall cognitive functioning. Through my aikido, meditation and several other practices have begun to understand these things on an experiential level. I have been to the lowest of lows (a deep depression) and the highest of highs. And after enough time spent in both places, I have come to some level of observation and self awareness with what goes on during each of those experiences. Today, I want to present to you a simple strategy for dealing with a down moment or a bout of depression that takes you under and engulfs you. 

I am speaking from my own experience in a depressed state as well as several other people who report a similar experience. In an emotional state of depression, everything looks bleak. I feel lonely, disconnected from society, helpless and hopeless. I see absolutely zero potential for anything positive to happen in my future whether it be in terms of relationships, money, experiences, work- whatever. I literally feel like a “shit-magnet”. Bad shit seems to stick to me. Everyone I encounter is a selfish jerk. The best way I can describe depression is a complete and overwhelming tunnel vision for everything negative. And as Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania has affirmed, the bleak perception of our reality feels permanent (like it’s going to last forever), pervasive (like every aspect of our life is fucked) and highly personal (like we as a person are majorly defective). 

 I have noticed that when I have been depressed, I will freeze frame my current “shitty” reality and conceptualize it in my mind that it is going to be this way forever. It makes me not even want to live anymore. I feel like giving up. I then begin to ask myself questions like, “what is wrong with me?” and “what’s the point anyway?”. I try to go up in my head and think my way out of the problem.  If there is one thing to take away from the lesson today it is this:

Intellectualizing and trying to rationally think your way out of a troubling emotional state is the worst thing you can possibly be doing to feel better. Your trying to solve a problem from a impaired level of thinking. It makes no sense, however we as humans love to see ourselves as smart creatures who can think our way out of shit. 

Einstein nailed it right on the head when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. And this quote is quite applicable to depression.  When we are in a low level of consciousness, it is impossible to get ourselves out of it by thinking more. 

Instead what needs to be understood is that our feelings are a signal. And this powerful signal of “I feel like death” is telling us that our thinking is off!  Way off. Therefore, the only thing you have to do when you start feeling like absolute crap is begin to not believe in the thoughts that are creeping into your mind. I just read Garrett Kramer’s peak performance books Stillpower and The Path of No Resistance and I really love his paradigm regarding this. He asserts that you should “feel what you feel, but don’t believe what you think”. Our terrible feelings are a powerful signal- to disregard and be disbelieving of our thoughts- not to cling to them and try to rationally joust with them. 

The more you can begin to simply sit with your feelings and not try to create a story around them about why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling- this is when you will escape the grips of your depression. What keeps the depression in place is the constant thinking that ‘this event’ or ‘that person’ is to blame for my depression. This type of thinking is not going to get you out of your depression, it is only going to ensure that you stay in that state of mind longer. If you just sit still and begin to quietly retreat to the silent confines of your mind- you will start to notice that your depression will begin to subside and eventually drift away. Our brains and bodies have the natural tendency to self-correct. There is a built auto-pilot mechanism built into our nervous system if we simply let go of needing to control every process along the way. 

When we try to think our way of our depression- we are trying to “will” it and control every step in the process. This absolutely shuts off our self-corrective mechanism in our brain that is the skeleton key to our emotional regulation. The less energy and power you give your depressing thoughts- the sooner you will start to see your emotional state rise. And then pretty soon thereafter your perception will begin to broaden. You will start to see things in brighter color, see the hopeful (and realistic) future and get out the blame-game you’ve been playing with yourself. 

This process takes a keen level of self awareness. Most people get into a depressed state and they try to fight it- but that just gives it more energy. Think about depression like your little brother or that neighbor of yours who is a shit-grinning twerp. The more you engage with your little brother, the more he is going to try to annoy you and rattle you. However when you laugh at him and not let what he is doing bother you- he goes away because it is no fun for him anymore. Depression is the same way. Begin to watch your hopeless thoughts come into your awareness. Don’t let them hook you, just watch them and be accepting of them. Sit there through the painful experience and become an outstanding observer of your own mind. This is the secret to mastering your inner world- becoming a master observer of your own mind and it’s default patterns and tendencies. 

Once you begin to observe and not absorb or attach to these negative thoughts- your consciousness will begin to rise and the heavy feelings will start to lighten drastically. It will feel like a exhilarating experience. The more you can practice this, the better you will get. As Garrett Kramer loves to say, it’s all about STAYING IN THE GAME. If you hang around long enough and don’t fight the negative thoughts and bleak perspective- it will all turn around. It always does. But the minute you begin to try to understand why you are feeling like crap and begin to create some narrative about your depression- you have lost the game. 

We all have a unique inner life force. I believe it is God within us, others call it a whole lot of different things. However, this force is the very thing that guides us intuitively and if given the freedom to work for us- can produce miracles. I know relinquishing control and not engaging with the depressing thoughts is a major challenge that most will probably fail at their first few times. Yet, all it takes is one breakthrough and it will change your life forever. One experience of letting your inner guide take over and guide you out of your depression will allow you to never be a hostage to this crippling condition ever again. It’s amazing. 

So you have 2 choices. You can either be a victim and continue to fight with your annoying shit-grinning little brother (depressive thoughts) and continue to feel agitated (depression). Or you can begin to observe and allow your annoying little brother to “try” to bother you, but never actually bite the hook (depressive thoughts)- therefore making him disinterested and leaving you alone so that you can be in peace (free of depression).

 If you tend to fall down the “rabbit hole” of depression, I suggest hanging two signs around your place as a reminder. One is from Kramer’s book:

“STAY IN THE GAME”

And the other is from the Navy Seal movie Lone Survivor:

“No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.”

The second quote is what gave me the hope to carry on in the darkest of my depression a couple years ago. Though I really had no where to turn and felt almost entirely hopeless- I kept looking at that quote and it kept me looking for another way- another answer. I’d read another book, I’d watch another youtube video, I just kept going. Until pretty soon, I was guided to meet my mentor. And that was the moment that changed everything. So I suggest you adopt this belief. If you believe there is always a way- you will find a way. People, when their either going to die or succeed- they tend to succeed. Hunger is your greatest asset. Plain and simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Important 15 Minutes of Your Life

In my practice of the martial art of Aikido, I learned a valuable lesson the other day that applies to all areas of life.  If applied, this one lesson might be the single most important principle for changing one’s life- in any area- financial, career, relationships, emotional, spiritual and physical. It is a universal law and people tend to do the opposite and therefore get adverse results in their life. 

About a week and a half ago, there were a bunch of white belts and few black belts training together. it was towards the end of a two hour training session. We thought we had really learned this particular defense. Hell, we had been working on it for almost two hours at that point. Then out of nowhere, the Sensei stops our practice and calls our attention to a very specific focal point. I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like, “what seems to be getting overlooked here is the opening movement. If you don’t take the attackers balance on the opening movement- the rest of the defense is near worthless. A great opening move, sets up for an easy throw and pin. However, without taking your opponents balance, you will never submit your opponent- I don’t care how good you are at the throw and the pin.” 

When I first heard it, it seemed simple and boring instruction. It was just about to come in one ear and go through the other, before I caught myself being lazy. Then I asked myself a better question: “What applications could this have for life?”- because I have found that Aikido is truly a metaphor for life. I have seen that all the lessons I have learned on the mat carry over to life, and this lesson was no different.

Aikido defenses typically have 3 or 4 steps in them. The opening movement a lot of the times is about “getting off the line of attack” (in order to protect yourself) as well as trying to take your opponent’s balance so they are now at a disadvantage. There is nothing sexy or exciting about the opening movement- EVER. The rest of the defense is where the exciting Steven Seagal stuff occurs. But if you don’t set your opponent up in the first step, the later (and more thrilling) movements won’t work. The opening movement sets the tone for the rest of the progression. You’ll commonly hear people say, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”. Maybe  so, but the greater truth may be that a poor start sets such a terrible tone that the rest of the process often times will never fully recover. And hell, why would you want to live by that motto in the first place- it’s setting you up for a life where you’re constantly digging yourself out of holes. 

Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed and that bad mood just carried on with you for the rest of the day? It was like you were doomed to have a bad day. Everything seemed to go wrong. I’m sure you’ve had days where the opposite was true too. This case of one’s mood and emotions is great place to start when talking about setting the tone. Opening your day with a practice that gets you physically, emotionally and mentally prepared to face challenges optimistically, feel confident and assertive and overall be in a positive state is crucial. Do you think a pro football player is going to show up to the Superbowl and hope to feel good? Hell no, he is going to get himself into a resource state irrespective of the circumstances and external factors. It could be -20 degrees and snowing, his dog could have died, he could have lost his starting job to a rookie. It doesn’t matter, a true professional brings the state of certainty to the field. He isn’t there looking for external feedback to tell him how he should feel or how he should play. 

With this I recommend implementing a ritual that gets you into a peak emotional state during the first 15 minutes of your day. Maybe it is going to the gym. Maybe it is jumping on a mini trampoline while listening to your favorite music. It could a could shower or meditation. Whatever gets you into a positive emotional state and gets your body moving is going to be beneficial. It’s amazing the carryover that will take place throughout the rest of the day. Momentum is an underrated characteristic within human beings. Why is it that we are blind to the fact that the littlest shit always builds to create bigger shit, an eventually monumental shit in our lives. Jim Rohn always said, 

 

“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.”

These tiny errors in judgment that get repeated everyday typically stem from our unconscious emotional patterns that habituate in our daily lives. We wake up tired and hit our snooze button 3 or 4 times. This passivity then creeps into every aspect of our existence and compounds into the failure we inevitably face. But if you change the opening movement and consciously choose to set the tone differently each and every day- it’s amazing the kind of momentum that will start to build. You will start to feel better, more energized, more assertive, more confident. These qualities will start to reward you in your work, your relationships, your finances and all aspects of your life. Pretty soon you will start to believe yourself to be a winner, a champion and someone who is a master of their own experience. It is at this point where the Tony Robbins, Richard Branson’s and Marc Benioffs built their success. They became a success through these small rituals, which ultimately created their character. The outside world loves to view their success in terms of their public accomplishments. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Stephen Covey avowed this by saying,

“Private victories always precede public victories”.

The first 15 minutes of your day is the most important. It will set the tone. If you enter your day from a place of uncertainty and passivity, are you just hoping that something will click with you and you’ll all the sudden get some pep in your step? No it’s time to consciously create the life you want. And you do this by a simple ritual in the first 15 minutes after you wake up in the morning. I suggest doing something that radically activates your physiology. Because the quickest and the most surefire way to change the way you feel is to radically shift the way you move your body. The power of physiology is a topic that has been discussed in past posts and will be discussed in the future. It is a crucial linchpin to mastering your emotional life. 

Here are some possible rituals to start your day with:

-Jump on a mini trampoline (rebounder) while listening to some music (you could turn this into a formal anchoring practice with a vision board/mandala). {This has other healthy effects, as it pumps the lymph in our bodies}

-Go for a run or bike

-Take a cold shower or contrast shower (hot/cold- back and forth)

-Yoga

-Martial Arts

-Lift weights

-Go for a brisk walk

BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden, by David Hawkins

Last week I highlighted David Hawkins’ most popular book- Power vs. Force, this week we will look at the second book of the Power vs. Force trilogy entitled The Eye of I: From Which Nothing is Hidden.  While Power vs. Force is a great appetizer on the subject of human consciousness, this book is definitely the entrée. It goes into much greater depth about the nature of duality and how our ego misperceives the world and is the cause of our suffering. I recommend this book for anyone who wants more peace, love and compassion in their life. I do think it is probably best to read this trilogy in order because they do build on each other. 

The aspect I love most about Hawkins’ writing is how it shifts the reader at an emotional level while they are reading. Similar to meditation or a martial art- how you get in that flow or zen-like state of love, peace and joy- the same thing occurs when you read Hawkins. I found this elevation in consciousness to be particularly profound in this book of his. This is not a book to be read in a weekend. I believe one will get the most out of reading this book if they take one chapter a day and spend about 3 weeks to a month with this book.  Thus, one’s consciousness will be elevated throughout the 3-4 weeks of reading it. I also found it particularly helpful to read a chapter of this book, then immediately spend 30 minutes to an hour in quiet meditation. This book is meditative in nature, so adding a formal meditative practice along with this book adds another element to it. 

When I started my journey into the personal development years ago, I didn’t intend to get into books on spirituality and consciousness. Yet, in hindsight I now understand why my journey has led me to reading books by authors like David Hawkins, Eckhart Tolle and David Singer. These books all address the ego. The ego is the part of ourselves as humans which is responsible for our suffering. By gaining a greater understanding of what our ego is and how it works, we can learn to cultivate a friendlier relationship with it and reduce and eliminate much of the suffering that plagues our lives. After reading numerous books on the ego, I believe The Eye of the I and the third book in the trilogy (I: Reality & Subjectivity) to be the two best books in regards to explaining the ego. 

And as always, here are the passages that I highlighted during my reading of the book. These really spoke to me and are a great daily reminder for me.

 

“One becomes enamored of this precious ‘self’, which then becomes an obsession and the subjective focus of languaging and thought. The self becomes glamorized as the hero of one’s life story and drama. This requires that the self be defended and that its survival become all important. This includes the necessity to be right at any cost.”

“The value of memory also becomes diminished by the realization that only does the mind misperceive in the present, but it routinely does so in the past, and what one is remembering is really the record of past illusions. All past actions were based on the illusion of what one thought one was at the time.”

“The relinquishment of the ego self as one’s central focus involves letting go of all these layers of attachments and vanities, and one eventually comes face to face with the ego’s primary function of control to ensure continuance and survival. Therefore the ego clings to all its faculties because their basic purpose, to ensure its survival, is the reason behind its obsession with gain, winning, learning, alliances, and accumulation of possessions, data and skills. The ego has endless schemes for enhancing survival- some gross, some obvious, others subtle and hidden”

“The only simple task to be accomplished is to let go of the identification with the ego as one’s real self!”

“Sometimes the ego misidentifies itself more specifically as the personality. It thinks, “I am such-and-such a person.” And it says, “Well, that’s who I am”. From this illusion arises the fear that one will lose one’s personality if the ego is relinquished. This is feared as the death of ‘who I am’.”

“The modern trend toward ‘political correctness’ is a great source of conflict, strife and suffering.  It is based on the imaginary ‘rights’. In reality there are no such things as rights. These are all social imaginings. Nothing in the universe has any rights. The whole area of ‘rights’ leads to a ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude, victim, illusions of causality and revenge. All this displaces personal responsibility for one’s own experience of life.”

“The problem with the ego is not that it is wrong; it is just that it is limited and distorted. To conceive of the ego as an enemy is to become polarized, bringing forth conflict, guilt, anger and shame. Positionalities support the ego. By enlarging context, opposites are transcended and problems are dissolved. Humility removes the ego’s underpinnings of judgmentalism, positionality and moralizing.”

“in a system of considerable complexity, there is a very precise point where even a small amount of energy applied brings about a major change. A giant clockworks has a vulnerable point at which even a slight pressure stops the whole works. A giant locomotive can be halted in you know exactly where to place your finger.  The great clockwork of human society likewise has points where major change can occur as a result of a slight amount of pressure.”

“Love is misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others.  Love for God or nature or even one’s pets opens the door to spiritual inspiration. The desire to make others happy overrides selfishness. The more we give love, the greater our capacity to do so. It is a good beginning practice to merely mentally wish others well in the course of the day. Love blossoms into lovingness which becomes progressively more intense, nonselective and joyful. There comes a time one ‘falls in love’ with everything and everyone they meet. This tendency to be intensely loving has to be curtailed because love, curiously enough, frightens many people. Many people cannot look fully into another person’s eyes for more than a brief second, if at all. 

“Our society is one of excesses; it swings like a pendulum too far in one direction and then too far in the opposite because it gets caught in the duality of either/or and this and that. Maturity results in a middle way that allows for both ends of the spectrum of human behavior.” 

“Pride is at the core of the ego beyond all else. Pride in the form of the vanity of thought, mentation, concepts and opinions are all the basis of ignorance. The antidote is radical humility, which undoes the domination of perception. Ask for the truth to be revealed instead of assuming that you already know it.”

“One can enjoy beautiful music without the ego’s claiming authorship for the origination of the music itself. If one claims authorship for music, then many anxieties and feelings arise which have to do with belief systems about perfection, approval, desirability and acceptance.”