“I think its time to practice what I preach,
Exorcise the demons inside me.
The past can’t haunt me if I don’t let it,
Live and learn and never forget it.”
– Kesha, “Learn to Let Go”
Currently, there are four books sitting on my desk that are part of my “morning reflections”. Part of me feels like this is a bit much, but most of my readings are a single page or two, which makes four books fairly manageable. Besides, one of the books I’ve read before, so there isn’t anything particularly new for me in it to digest. I hope to have my morning jou include my thoughts of some or all of these readings, but I feel really motivated today and we will see what happens when my motivation wanes.
Alright, on to the things that stood out in my readings.
What I believe to be true about myself and my life in the privacy of my own mind has a profound effect on my life on the outside.
The power of our mind continues to amaze me. The words we use to describe ourselves shape our reality and perception. I struggle with confidence and self-love. I often see myself as unattractive and I’m sure that broadcasts itself to the world. I long for closer friendships but I don’t feel like I have anything of value to offer others and wonder if people are friends with me out of pity. That decidedly unfriendliness to myself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, I don’t seek friends because I don’t deserve friends and I end up without friends.
Of course, the reverse is true as well. When I feel attractive, confident, and at peace then life falls into place a little more. When I decided to take crazy risks in life like quitting my job (twice) and cycling away from a city that wasn’t making me happy (twice) without a job or destination really in mind things still worked out. This wasn’t magic. I wasn’t lucky. The good results were a result of my actions, which were a result of my mental state. I knew I was making the right decision and that proved to be true. When I feel attractive the barista flirts with me. When I see myself as being friendly strangers strike up conversations. When I convince myself that I have value more work and love and life comes my way. Thought creates results.
In an effort to expand my knowledge base I am reading pieces of “classic” books in religion and philosophy. These books had an impact spanning most of human history and I think they are worth reading. One thing that I’ve noticed so far is how similar many of them are. This was a shock to me in the beginning. I was raised to believe that Christ’s teachings were unique, even revolutionary. But really, he was saying the same thing that people across the globe had been saying for thousands of years.
My readings today (The Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter VII 1.1- 4.3) definitely sounded Christian in many areas. You could switch out “the Infinite” with “God” and the following would fit perfectly in the Bible.
It is the Infinite that is the source of abiding joy because it is not the subject of change. Therefore seek to know the Infinite… The Infinite is beyond death, but the finite cannot escape death.
Or change “Self” to “God”
One who meditates upon and realizes the Self discovers that everything in the cosmos – energy and space, fire and water, name and form, birth and death, mind and will, word and deed, mantram and meditation – all come from Self.
The Self is one, though it appears to be many. Those who meditate upon the Self and realize the Self go beyond decay and death, beyond separateness and sorrow.
Those last seven words sound very similar to Pope John Paul II said about hell, “hell indicates a state of those who freely and definitely separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.” Or put another way, those who recognize God and stay with him go beyond decay and death, beyond separateness and sorrow.
These passages could easily describe the Biblical heaven
This is the real city of Brahman; this is the Self, free from old age, from death and grief, hunger and thirst. In the Self all desires are fulfilled.
One who crosses by this bridge, if blind, is blind no more; if hurt, ceases to be hurt; if in sorrow, ceases sorrowing. At this boundary night itself becomes day: night comes not into the world of Brahman.
Of course, these texts don’t match up perfectly with Christian theology. Christianity is based on the idea that God is separate from us and things on this earth. God is good, the world is bad. These Hindu texts seem to unitary and not binary, God is us and we are God. We may not see that or we may deny it, but that truth doesn’t cease.
I continue to think that the major difference between many religions and philosophies is mostly word choice. The underlying theme, the wisdom, the pursuits, are all very similar.
This is the first book of twelve that I plan on reading over the next year that I have already read at least once. This book is probably the single most inspirational “kick in the ass I needed” book I’ve read when it comes to creativity and creating. Pressfield identifies “resistance” as the enemy that we must name and actively fight. It is not just a concept or a word, it is an force to be fought. Or, as Pressfield stated in the introduction:
Resistance is the most toxic force on th eplanet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms the spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. (emphasis added by me)
I don’t believe in God, but I see how Resistance prevents me from living the life that I could. The beautiful world that we could all create if we were to pursue our calling is destroyed in its infancy. It stops my potential before it starts, something common for many people and often understood only by those who have already fought Resistance and one some battles.
The first step in any battle is to understand the enemy. So, what is it that brings Resistance to our door? “Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity… any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower.”
Have an idea for a novel? Prepare for Resistance.
Is that empty easel calling your name? Resistance also hears the call
Do you want to exercise more or have a healthier diet? Resistance will fight you.
Does the world need to be changed? Have an app idea? Want to raise children? Is your relationship struggling? Resistance will push you towards the easy path of staying on the couch and avoiding commitment.
But Resistance can be overcome. The war will never end but battles can be won, and as you get stronger it gets weaker (in the long run). But first, we must admit Resistance exists. Or, to paraphrase the eminent 20th Century philosopher Verbal Kint, “The greatest trick Resistance ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”
Resistance exists. And it has traits that we can identify and fight. It is an invisible energy field that pushes us away from our work, it is an internal force coming from within, and it is an insidious force that will lie, cheat, and change form to deceive you.
All that can be fought through once you admit that it exists and that this is a war for your very heart and soul. It is a war, and losing the war means never becoming who you could be… never completing your “work”… never answering the call.
Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.
There is a novel you want to write. A song you want to sing. A child you want to raise. A country you want to visit. An artistic pursuit that you want to be known for. A business you want to start. A cause that you want to commit yourself to.
I get it. Today is a bad day to do it. Work is crazy right now, you didn’t get much sleep, the holiday’s are coming up… when things calm down you will pick up the tools needed to answer your calling.
Except that is a lie. That is Resistance. Life will never not be busy. It will never be a good time. I used these same excuses for years, literally. I still use them. Right now, I’m not inspired, I don’t have time, my house is damaged from a hurricane, I only slept six hours last night, but that is normalcy. Maybe not those exact things, but there will always be an excuse that feels important. When I’m not “busy” then I “need” time to relax and recover. Both being busy and not being busy become the excuse Resistance uses to stop me from training for a half marathon, starting a yoga practice, writing a novel, or creating a board game.
It is all lies. I do it today, or I won’t do it. I didn’t do it yesterday, last week, last month, last year and I won’t do it tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Resistance will win. Unless I see it for what it is and fight it. Starting right, fucking now. Not in an hour, not after work, not tomorrow morning. Right. Fucking. Now.
Damn. That books get me all riled up. It is time to get to Work!
Lastly, three words/phrases that I encountered that I had to look up. That reminds me, I really want to buy a nice dictionary. Hmm, let me check Amazon real quick.
Geez, I have no idea how to buy a dictionary apparently. Oxford or Merriam Webster? What is the difference between the $12 one and the $70 one? This is overwhelming. I’ll come back to this later.
So, here are the words that were new (or new again) to me:
Protean – generally means versatile, mutable, capable of assuming many forms. Comes from the Greek myth of Proteus, an early god of water. (From “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield)
Khidr – a name ascribed to a figure in the Quran as a righteous servant of God possessing great wisdom or mystic knowledge. (From “A Year with Rumi” by Coleman Barks)
Four Vedas – Veda means “knowledge” and the four are a breakdown of the Hindu body of knowledge. Rigveda means “praise knowledge” and is reciting hymns, Yajurveda means “ritual knowledge” is performing sacrifices, and Samaveda means “song knowledge” is chanting songs, these three are called “the triple science”. The fourth, Atharvaveda, wasn’t a Veda during the Vedic era but was added in the 1st millennium BCE. It is made up of Atharvan and Angirasa poets. (From “The Upanishads” translated by Eknath Easwaran)
Huh, three different unknown words/phrases from three different religious backgrounds spanning over 2,000 years from approximately 1700 BCE to 625 CE. Nice.
My love of words actually has me thinking about setting up an Instagram account that goes into word origins and such. I searched around and really couldn’t find a good one on Instagram. I just wish I knew how to do simple graphic design… I guess I’ll just stick with stuff in collective commons and Microsoft Paint.
I may do another blog post today about my therapy session yesterday, but until then here is my schedule for the day.
5:45-8:30 – Wake up, coffee, daily readings, writing, run (3-mile), shower
8:30-9:30 – Creative time (I’m working on a couple of games that I’m excited about)
9:30-11:00 – Work calls
11:00-11:30 – Work on cleaning/organizing house
11:30-2:00 – Work
2:00-3:00 – Break
3:00-5:00 – Work
5:00-6:00 – Prepare for evening call
6:00-6:30 – Prepare for tomorrow morning (make coffee, set up workout, make daily calendar, clean office)
6:30-10:00 – No Plans
10:00-11:00 – Evening Call – I have a bi-weekly phone call with two of my best friends where we catch up on life and provide support and ideas for our entrepreneurial ventures.
I hope you all have a great day!
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”