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Chapter 8, Kindling Your Inner Fire. Part 4
Julian smiled gingerly. “Thanks pal. Now to answer your question, my suggestion is that you try the Heart of the Rose method at the same time every day and in the same place, every day. There is tremendous power in a ritual. Sports stars who eat the same meal or tie their shoes the same way before the big game are tapping into the power of ritual. Members of a church who perform the same rites, wear the same robes, are using the power of ritual. Even business people who walk the same route or talk the same talk before a big presentation are applying the power of ritual. You see, when you insert any activity into your routine by doing it the same way at the same time every day, it quickly grows into a habit.”
“For example, most people will do the same thing upon waking up, without giving any thought to what they are doing. They open their eyes, get out of bed, walk to the bathroom and start brushing their teeth. So, staying with your goal for a period of twenty-one days, and performing the new activity at the same time for each of these days, will insert it into your routine. Soon you will be performing the new habit, whether it is meditation, getting up earlier or reading for an hour every day, with the same ease that you feel while brushing your teeth.”
“The final step for attaining goals and advancing along the path of purpose?”
“The final step in the sages’ method is one that is equally applicable as you advance along the path of your life.”
“My cup is still empty,” I said respectfully.
“Enjoy the process. The Sages of Sivana often spoke of this philosophy. They truly believed that a day without laughter or a day without love was a day without life.”
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
“All I’m saying is make sure that you have fun while you are advancing along the path of your goals and purpose. Never forget the importance of living with unbridled exhilaration. Never neglect to see the exquisite beauty in all living things. Today and this very moment that you and I are sharing is a gift. Remain spirited, joyful and curious. Stay focused on your lifework and on giving selfless service to others. The Universe will take care of everything else. This is one of nature’s truest laws.”
“And never regret what has happened in the past?”
“Exactly. There is no chaos in this Universe. There is a purpose for everything that has ever happened to you, and everything that will happen to you. Remember what I told you, John. Every experience offers lessons. So stop majoring in minor things. Enjoy your life.”
“Is that it?”
“I still have much wisdom to share with you. Are you tired?”
“Not in the least. Actually I feel pretty pumped up. You are quite the motivator, Julian. Have you ever thought about an infomercial?” I asked mischievously.
“I don’t understand,” he replied gently.
“Never mind. Just one of my feeble attempts at humor.”
“Okay. Before we move along with Yogi Raman’s fable, there is one last point about reaching your goals and your dreams that I would like to impress on you.”
“Go for it.”
“There is one word which the sages spoke of in almost reverential terms.”
“This simple word seemed to carry a depth of meaning for them and it peppered their daily talk. The word I am speaking of is passion, and it is a word you must constantly keep at the forefront of your mind as you follow your mission and attain your goals. A burning sense of passion is the most potent fuel for your dreams. Here, in our society we have lost our passion. We do not do things because we love to do them. We do things because we feel we have to do them. This is a formula for misery. And I am not speaking of romantic passion, although this is another ingredient for a successful, inspired existence. What I am talking about is a passion for life. Reclaim the joy of waking up every morning, full of energy and exhilaration. Breathe the fire of passion into all that you do. You will quickly reap great material, as well as spiritual, rewards.”
“You make it sound so easy.”
“It is. From tonight onwards, take complete control of your life. Decide, once and for all, to be the master of your fate. Run your own race. Discover your calling and you will start to experience the ecstacy of an inspired life. Finally, always remember that what lies behind you and what lies in front of you is nothing when compared to what lies within you.”
“Thanks Julian. I really needed to hear this. I never realized all that was lacking in my life until tonight. I have been wandering aimlessly through it, lacking a real purpose. Things are going to change. I promise you. I am grateful for this.”
“You’re welcome, my friend. I’m simply fulfilling my purpose.”
Follow Your Purpose
The purpose of life is a life of purpose
Discovering and then realizing your lifework brings lasting fulfillment
Set clearly defined personal, professional and spiritual goals, and then have the courage to act on them
The Power of Self-Examination
The 5 Step Method for Attaining Goals
Never forget the importance of living with unbridled exhilaration. Never neglect to see the exquisite beauty in all living things. Today, and this very moment, is a gift. Stay focused on your purpose. The Universe will take care of everything else.
Chapter 9, The Ancient Art of Self-Leadership. Part 1
Good people strengthen themselves ceaselessly.
“Time is passing quickly,” said Julian before pouring himself another cup of tea. “The morning will soon be upon us. Do you want me to continue or have you had enough for one night?”
There was no way that I was going to let this man, who held such gems of wisdom within his grasp, stop without completing his story. At the outset, his tale seemed fantastic. But as I listened to him, as I absorbed the ageless philosophy that had been bestowed upon him, I came to believe deeply in what he was saying. These were not the superficial self-serving ruminations of some two-bit huckster. Julian was the real thing. He clearly walked his talk. And his message rang true. I trusted him.
“Please continue, Julian, I have all the time in the world. The kids are sleeping at their grandparents’ house tonight, and Jenny won’t be up for hours.”
Sensing my sincerity, he continued with the symbolic fable that Yogi Raman had offered him to illustrate his wisdom on cultivating a richer, more radiant life.
“I have told you that the garden represents the fertile garden of your mind, a garden that is filled with delightful treasures and boundless riches. I have also spoken of the lighthouse and how it represents the power of goals and the importance of discovering your calling in life. You will recall that as the fable continues, the door of the lighthouse slowly opens and out walks a nine-foot-tall, nine-hundred-pound Japanese sumo wrestler.”
“Sounds like a bad Godzilla movie.”
“I used to love those when I was a kid.”
“Me too. But don’t let me distract you,” I replied.
“The sumo wrestler represents a very important element in the life-changing system of the Sages of Sivana. Yogi Raman told me that many centuries ago in the ancient East, the great teachers developed and refined a philosophy called kaizen. This Japanese word means constant and never-ending improvement. And it’s the personal trademark of every man and woman who is living a soaring, fully awakened existence.”
“How did the concept of kaizen enrich the lives of the sages?” I asked.
“As I mentioned earlier, John, success on the outside begins with success on the inside. If you really want to improve your outer world, whether this means your health, your relationships or your finances, you must first improve your inner world. The most effective way to do this is through the practice of continuous self-improvement. Self-mastery is the DNA of life mastery.”
“Julian, I hope you don’t mind me saying it, but all this talk about one’s ‘inner world’ sounds more than a little esoteric to me. Remember, I’m just a middle-class lawyer from the leafy suburbs with a minivan sitting in the driveway and a Lawn-Boy in the garage.
“Look. Everything you have told me so far makes sense. As a matter of fact, much of what you have shared with me appears to be common sense, although I know that common sense is anything but common in this day and age. I must tell you though, I’m having a little difficulty with this notion of kaizen and improving my inner world. What exactly are we talking about here?”
Julian was agile in his response. “In our society, we all too often label the ignorant as weak. However, those who express their lack of knowledge and seek instruction find the path to enlightenment before anyone else. Your questions are honest and show me that you are open to fresh ideas. Change is the most powerful force in our society today. Most people fear it, the wise embrace it. Zen tradition speaks of a beginner’s mind: those who keep their minds open to new concepts — those whose cups are always empty — will always move to higher levels of achievement and fulfillment. Never be reluctant to ask even the most basic of questions. Questions are the most effective method of eliciting knowledge.”
“Thanks. But I still am unclear about kaizen.”
“When I speak of improving your inner world, I am simply speaking of self-improvement and personal expansion and it is the best thing you can do for yourself. You might think that you are too busy to spend time working on yourself. This would be a very big mistake. You see, when you have taken the time to build a strong character full of discipline, energy, power and optimism, you can have anything and do anything you want in your outer world. When you have cultivated a deep sense of faith in your abilities and an indomitable spirit, nothing can stop you from succeeding in all your pursuits and living with great rewards. Taking the time to master your mind, to care for the body and to nourish your soul will put you in a position to develop more richness and vitality in your life. It is as Epictetus said so many years ago: ‘No man is free who is not a master of himself.'”
“So kaizen is actually a very practical concept.”
“Very. Think about it, John. How could a person possibly lead a corporation if he cannot even lead himself? How could you nurture a family if you haven’t learned to nurture and care for yourself? How could you possibly do good if you don’t even feel good? Do you see my point?”
I nodded in full agreement. This was the first time I had given any serious thought to the importance of improving myself. I had always thought that all those people I would see on the subway reading books with titles like The Power of Positive Thinking or MegaLiving! were troubled souls desperate for some form of medicine to get them back on course. Now I realized that those who took the time to strengthen themselves were the strongest and that it was only through improving one’s self that one could ever hope to improve the lot of others. I then started to reflect on all the things I could improve. I really could use the added energy and good health that exercising would surely bring. Ridding myself of my nasty temper and my habit of interrupting others might do wonders for my relationship with my wife and kids. And erasing my worry habit would give me the peace of mind and deep happiness I had been searching for. The more I thought about it, the more potential improvements I saw.
As I started to see all the positive things that would flood into my life through the cultivation of good habits, I grew excited. But I realized that Julian was talking about far more than the importance of daily exercise, a healthful diet and a balanced lifestyle. What he had learned in the Himalayas was deeper and more meaningful than this. He spoke of the importance of building strength of character, developing mental toughness and living with courage. He told me that these three attributes would lead one not only to a virtuous life but to a life filled with achievement, satisfaction and inner peace. Courage was a quality everyone could cultivate and one that would pay huge dividends over the long run.