“Silence is the true friend who never betrays.”
This one little sentence seems to hold many meanings. I wondered what Confucius was trying to teach in these few words, and so I researched it. Two items surfaced for me.
First, Confucius taught about the merits of recollection, introspection and deep thinking – he used the word “silence” to describe this process.
Second, Confucius taught that actions are much more powerful than words. Silence–not saying anything–was just fine, as it is our actions which define us and make us more or less valuable to ourselves and others.
Combining these two items could mean that using recollection and deep thinking can bring us to the truth of situations and help us to devise reactions and/or solutions. Staying silent and acting out those solutions makes our reactions unmistakable. Spoken words will not interfere with actions that can be seen and felt.
Confucius intrigues me! I will be reading his wisdom more regularly.
“The master is content to serve as an example
and not impose his will.” – Tao te Ching
Good day to you! Before you read any further, let me start by saying that if you believe the above words to be true, you will get a lot out of today’s blog. If you don’t, then hit your “back” button, and hopefully, I’ll have something wiser for you in the next segment. 🙂
This saying really resonates with me. The teachers in my life with the most profound effect taught me with their examples and not their words. I remember my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kirby, whose passion for Texas history drew me into wanting to learn about the early days of my home state. Recently, my son’s martial arts instructor taught me through his example how to raise my expectations of discipline and polite manners from three-year-olds while still having a lot of fun with them. With perfect form, Master Kim delivers a front kick to a training bag, and while he doesn’t expect his littlest students to do the same, he DOES expect them to listen respectfully to him and to work hard.
Just as these words apply to humans, I believe they apply to The Creator, too. I believe The Creator serves as an example to us in many ways:
- Plants and trees are The Creator’s example of teaching us patience. All flowering and growth happens at just the right time, in the right season.
- Young animals and children are The Creator’s example of teaching us to treat life with wonder and a playful attitude.
- Storms are The Creator’s example of teaching us that the toughest of situations do not last very long, and then there is peace afterwards.
- Birth and death are our strongest examples of The Creator teaching us about change and transition, a recurring theme in our lives on Earth.
Does The Creator, the ultimate Master, impose His/Her will? I don’t believe so. I believe we have free will, that we will live much of our lives in expected ways because we are human, and that The Creator wants to be a partner in our lives. Hoping for us to consult with Him/Her and imposing His/Her will are very different from each other.
“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
– Groucho Marx (1895-1997)
My happiest days have been the ones on which I decided I would be happy. This life on Earth that we’ve all chosen is one of miscues, misunderstandings and misbehaviors. No one reaches the age of 35 (in my humble opinion) without some seriously horrible event or circumstance occurring in his/her life. There is no logic to being cheerful after this age, because we all have legitimate excuses to groan and complain.
And yet, choosing sadness brings more sadness which eventually brings depression. I’m not saying that life doesn’t deal us good reasons to seek professional help for trauma, believe me. What I’m saying is that if an individual complains about her/his life’s injury, it can be selfish. It can also keep that person from healing, because complaining often feels like a solution to a complaint, when it’s really not.
Saying, “I’m great,” to someone who asks, “How are you?” is a powerful, first step in choosing happiness.
In a scene from the comedy movie, “Miss Congeniality,” beauty pageant emcee Stan Fields conducts an onstage interview of Gracie Hart, an ill-mannered FBI agent who has unwillingly gone undercover as a pageant contestant.
- Stan Fields: “What is the one most important thing our society needs?”
- Gracie Hart: “That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan…”
- [the crowd is silent]
- Gracie Hart: “…And world peace!”
- [the crowd cheers wildly]
I am like Gracie Hart. I will say that I have spent most of my life with the opinion that world peace was utterly unattainable. The best we could do, I figured, was to attain my favorite 80/20 ratio: 80% of people living free and unmolested and 20% oppressed or under fire in some way.
In the past years as I’ve thrown myself into the study of The Creator — you may call this the study of spirituality or of New Age ideas or of spiritual truths — I have realized that world peace is attainable. I have learned from leaders who insisted on reconciliation in the face of violence: Nelson Mandela, Mohatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr..
I have learned that the force of a society, a culture, a religion or a government is nowhere near strong enough to bring about world peace. It is the force of a single person, connecting to another single person through an act of kindness or a simple smile who connects to another and another and another.
Imagine a room the size of an indoor basketball arena. It is pitch black and filled with people holding unlit candles. Ask the government to light the candles, and by the time the government employees are finished lighting them, many candles will have burnt out, and soon, the arena will be dark again. But have one person light her candle and pass her flame to as many people as she can who pass their flames to as many people as they can, and within minutes the arena will be flooded with light.
This is how we arrive at world peace. We make a conscious effort every day, regardless of our mood or circumstances, to pass along our Light and our kindness. Just your wonderful you, spreading your Light to a few people every day, is all the world needs to be at peace.
Would you like to learn more about mindfulness? The origins of mindfulness come from Buddhism; thus, the study of Buddhist meditation practices can be a good place to start. The Buddhist monk and author, Thich Nhat Hanh, has written several books on mindfulness, and he can also be found on Facebook. The Dalai Lama speaks often about mindfulness, as well.
Mindfulness: There’s an app for that. Really! There are several, actually. I recommend “Mindfulness Daily” by Inward, Inc. I have set it to prompt me several times a day to pause to take mindful breaths. It asks me to check in with my level of mindfulness and offers many mindful practices.
Mindful Magazine (www.mindful.org) is a publication I recently stumbled across. This month Pete Carroll, the head coach of the championship Seattle Seahawks American football team, is interviewed regarding his use of mindfulness to create a winning team.
For a deeper experience of mindfulness, search online for “mindfulness retreat.” Private and group retreats are held regularly in locations across the western world. And individualized lessons can be obtained through a mindfulness coach.
To conclude, your practice of mindfulness could be as simple as taking mindful breaths several times a day or as deep as finding a mindfulness coach. The thing to remember is the goal of mindfulness: To gently set your mind aside, so that your soul can rise to consciousness and be The Creator of your life.
Mindfulness is a tool for us humans — whose minds drift up and down, sideways and backwards, into the past and into the future — to still our minds to just accept the present moment. Mindfulness is for everyone, not just for those who are stressed and not just for those who are relaxed. Mindfulness does not solve problems, and it does not change who we are.
Our minds and our egos are, by their nature, very busy and very distractible. If it is true that we are the creators of our own lives — and it is! — then putting a distractible mind in charge of that creation results in a life with a high level of chaos. Mindfulness gently and temporarily pushes the mind and ego aside. Mindfulness allows the soul — the truest part of ourselves — to rise to consciousness. When your soul is in charge of your life’s creation, what do you think the result will be?
For a short mindfulness practice, focus on your breath. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Feel the air come in through your nostrils and into your lungs. Hold it for two seconds. Then breathe out through your mouth, feeling the rush of air and your lungs deflate. Repeat two or three times. If you feel your mind lose focus, simply bring it back gently to your breath.
Tomorrow, I will present resources, quotations, gurus and ideas for incorporating mindfulness.
P.S. Thank you to The Creator of All for giving me the words to write this when I was at a loss for words.
We all have the choice as to what and how to think. When we think about what brings us success, joy and happiness, we get those things. When we choose to think of what weighs us down and causes us pain… well, we get that, too.
But don’t take my word for it! I’ve attached quotations from a few famous people and invite you to explore this spiritual “truth” on your own.
Thank you for sharing!
“Ask — it’ll be given to you; seek — you’ll find; knock — it’ll be opened for you. Rest assured: everyone who asks receives; everyone who seeks finds; and for the one who knocks it is opened. Who among you would hand a son a stone when it’s bread he’s asking for? Again, who would hand him a snake when it’s fish he’s asking for? Of course no one would! So if you, shiftless as you are, know how to give your children good gifts, isn’t it much more likely that your Father in the heavens will give good things to those who ask him?”
– The Gospel According to Matthew, 7:7-11
“A thought is the most powerful force in the universe. You can make of your life whatever you wish if you learn to make your thoughts work for you.” – Wayne Dyer
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau
Desire dwells in the senses,
the mind, and the understanding;
in all these it obscures wisdom
and perplexes the embodied Self.
Therefore you must first control
your senses, Arjuna; then
destroy this evil that prevents you
from ever knowing the truth.
Men say that the senses are strong.
But the mind is stronger than the senses;
the understanding is stronger
than the mind; and strongest is the Self.
Knowing the Self, sustaining
the self by the Self, Arjuna,
kill the difficult-to-conquer
enemy called desire.
from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3.40-43
Translation by Stephen Mitchell
The Bhagavad Gita helps us to consider Desire vs. Self. How often are we on automatic pilot? We have physical cravings which we cannot seem to control. Words come out of our mouths that were put there by outside influences, such as parents and the media.
When we question everything, we take ourselves off auto pilot. When we delve into our soul’s desires, we find our own truths.
Whatever you are about to do, will it work for you?
“Part of the happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them. A masterly retreat is in itself a victory.” – Norman Vincent Peale (1898 – 1993)
“Your higher self is always nudging you toward a resolution of the conflicts that you experience in your life, so that you will have room for serenity and harmony.” – Wayne Dyer (1940 -)
“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” – Buddha (563 – 483 BCE)
I invited three experts to join us today: Two modern and one ancient. All share with us about the idea of conflict.
Norman Vincent Peale repeats the adage, “Pick your battles.” One day last week, I was having a particularly hard time getting my toddler son ready in the morning. He refused both a fresh diaper and a change of clothes. As Peale would say, I retreated on getting him into play clothes but insisted on the clean diaper. My son and I were both happy.
Wayne Dyer reminds us to take care of our conflicts, because doing so brings peace to our lives. How many times have you read that conflicts are repeated in our lives until we solve them?
The Buddha points out that self-control solves the greatest conflict of all. When we control the words that come from our own mouths and actions that come from our own bodies, we realize the highest levels confidence and power.
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.'”
– Jesus of Nazareth (ca. 6 BCE – 33 CE)
We are born with everything we need to be successful and peaceful. Most of the time, our parents (or those acting in that capacity) teach us to rely on ourselves as a steady source of wisdom. Sometimes, our birth families cannot teach us this, and we need help in our adult years to learn this.
Sometimes, being observant in an organized religion can help us realize the Kingdom of God is within. Sometimes, being observant in an organized religion can hinder us from that realization.
The thing is, there are no hard and fast rules about realizing, respecting and utilizing the powers of the Kingdom of God Within.
What makes you know this is true? Is it a religious service? A walk in the forest? The giggles of little children? The sound of your fingers playing a piano? Whatever those things are, how can you have them in your life every day? How can you create for yourself at least one reminder each day that the power and the kingdom of God are within you?