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Chapter 7, A Most Extraordinary Garden. Part 3
In that instant, I saw the connection between physical vitality and mental agility. Julian was in picture-perfect health and looked many years younger than he had when we had first met. He brimmed with vibrancy and it appeared that his energy, enthusiasm and optimism knew no bounds. I could see that he had made many changes to his former lifestyle, but it was obvious that the starting point of his magnificent transformation was mental fitness. Success on the outside indeed begins with success on the inside, and by changing his thoughts, Julian Mantle had changed his life.
“Exactly how can I develop this positive, serene and inspired attitude, Julian? After all these years in my routine, I think my mental muscles have grown a little flabby. Come to think of it, I have very little control over the thoughts that are floating around the garden of my mind,” I said with sincerity.
“The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. If you have become a negative thinker, this is because you have not cared for your mind and taken the time to train it to focus on the good. Winston Churchill said that ‘the price of greatness is, responsibility over each of your thoughts.’ Then you will install the vibrant mindset you are looking for. Remember, the mind truly is like any other muscle in your body. Use it or lose it.”
“Are you saying that if I don’t exercise my mind it will grow weak?”
“Yes. Look at it this way. If you want to strengthen the muscles of your arm to achieve more, you must train them. If you want to toughen up your leg muscles, you must first exert them. Similarly, your mind will do wonderful things for you if only you will let it. It will attract all that you desire into your life, once you learn how to operate it effectively. It will create ideal health if you care for it properly. And it will return to its natural state of peacefulness and tranquility — if you have the vision to ask for it. The Sages of Sivana have a very special saying: ‘The boundaries of your life are merely creations of the self.'”
“I don’t think I understand that one, Julian.”
“Enlightened thinkers know that their thoughts form their world and the quality of one’s life comes down to the richness of one’s thoughts. If you want to live a more peaceful, meaningful life, you must think more peaceful, meaningful thoughts.”
“Hit me with the quick-fix, Julian.”
“What do you mean?” Julian asked gently, running his bronzed fingers along the front of his brilliantly textured robe.
“I’m excited about what you are telling me. But I’m an impatient guy. Don’t you have any exercises or techniques that I can use right now, here in my own living room, to change the way I run my mind?”
“Quick-fixes do not work. All lasting inner change requires time and effort. Persistence is the mother of personal change. I’m not saying that it will take years to make profound changes in your life. If you diligently apply the strategies I am sharing with you every day for only one month, you will be astonished at the results. You will begin to tap into the highest levels of your own capacity and enter the realm of the miraculous. But to reach this destination, you must not get hung up on the outcome. Instead, enjoy the process of personal expansion and growth. Ironically, the less you focus on the end result, the quicker it will come.”
“It’s like that classic story of the young boy who travelled far from his home to study under a great teacher. When he met the wise old man, his first question was, ‘How long will it take me before I am as wise as you?’
“The response came swiftly, ‘Five years.’
“‘This is a very long time,’ the boy replied. ‘How about if I work twice as hard?’
‘”Then it will take ten,’ said the master.
‘”Ten! That’s far too long. How about if I studied all day and well into the night, every night?’
‘”Fifteen years,’ said the sage.
“‘I don’t understand,’ replied the boy. ‘Every time I promise to devote more energy to my goal, you tell me that it will take longer. Why?’
‘”The answer is simple. With one eye fixed on the destination, there is only one left to guide you along the journey'”
“Point well taken, counselor,” I conceded graciously. “Sounds like the story of my life.”
“Be patient and live with the knowledge that all you are searching for is certain to come if you prepare for it and expect it.”
“But I’ve never been the lucky sort, Julian. All that I have ever received has come through sheer persistence.”
“What is luck, my friend?” Julian replied kindly. “It is nothing more than the marriage of preparation with opportunity.”
Julian added softly: “Before I give you the precise methods passed on to me by the Sages of Sivana, I must first share a couple of key principles. First, always remember that concentration is at the root of mental mastery.”
“I know. It surprised me too. But it is true. The mind can accomplish extraordinary things, you have learned this. The very fact that you have a desire or a dream means that you have the corresponding capacity to realize it. This is one of the great universal truths known to the Sages of Sivana. However, to liberate the power of the mind, you must first be able to harness it and direct its focus only to the task at hand. The moment you concentrate the focus of your mind on a singular purpose, extraordinary gifts will appear within your life.”
“Why is it so important to have a concentrated mind?”
“Let me offer you a riddle that will answer your question nicely. Say you were lost in the woods in the middle of the winter. You desperately needed to stay warm. All you have in your knapsack is a letter your best friend had sent to you, a tin of tuna and a small magnifying glass that you carry to compensate for your fading eyesight. Luckily, you managed to find some dry kindling wood, but unfortunately you have no matches. How would you light the fire?”
Good grief. Julian had stumped me. I had no idea what the answer was.
“I give up.”
“It’s very simple. Place the letter amongst the dry wood and hold the magnifying glass over it. The rays of the sun will be focused so as to ignite the fire within a matter of seconds.”
“And what about the can of tuna?”
“Oh, I just threw that in to distract you from the obvious solution,” Julian replied with a smile. “But the essence of the example is this: putting the letter over the dry wood would produce no result. Yet, the second you use the magnifying glass to concentrate the scattered rays of the sun onto the letter, it will ignite. This analogy holds true for the mind. When you concentrate its tremendous power on definite, meaningful objectives, you will quickly ignite the flames of your personal potential and produce startling results.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Only you can answer this question. What is it that you are searching for? Do you want to be a better father and live a more balanced, rewarding life? Do you desire more spiritual fulfillment? Is it adventure and fun that you feel you are lacking? Give it some thought.”
“How about eternal happiness?”
“Go big or stay home,” he chuckled, “Nothing like starting off small. Well, you can have that too.”
“The Sages of Sivana have known the secret of happiness for over five thousand years. Fortunately, they were willing to share this gift with me. Do you want to hear it?”
“No, I thought I’d take a break and go wallpaper the garage first.”
“Of course I want to hear the secret of eternal happiness, Julian. Isn’t that what everyone is searching for, ultimately?”
“True. Well here it is… could I trouble you for another cup of tea?”
“C’mon, quit stalling.”
“Alright, the secret of happiness is simple: find out what you truly love to do and then direct all of your energy towards doing it. If you study the happiest, healthiest, most satisfied people of our world, you will see that each and every one of them has found their passion in life, and then spent their days pursuing it. This calling is almost always one that, in some way, serves others. Once you are concentrating your mind power and energy on a pursuit that you love, abundance flows into your life, and all your desires are fulfilled with ease and grace.”
“So simply figure out what turns you on and then do it?”
“If it is a worthy pursuit,” Julian replied.
“How do you define ‘worthy’?”
“As I said, John, your passion must, in some way, improve or serve the lives of others. “Victor Frankl said it more elegantly than I ever could when he wrote: ‘Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.’ Once you find out what your life’s work is, your world will come alive. You will wake up every morning with a limitless reservoir of energy and enthusiasm. All your thoughts will be focused on your definite objective. You won’t have time to waste time. Valuable mental power will, therefore, not be wasted on trifling thoughts. You will automatically erase the worry habit and become far more effective and productive. Interestingly, you will also have a deep sense of inner harmony, as if you are somehow being guided to realize your mission. It is a wonderful feeling. I love it,” Julian offered gleefully.
“Fascinating. And I like the part about getting up feeling good. To be really honest with you, Julian, most days I wish I could just stay under the covers. It would be so much better than facing the traffic, the angry clients, the aggressive opponents and the ceaseless flow of negative influences. It all makes me feel so tired.”
“Do you know why most people sleep so much?”
“Because they really don’t have anything else to do. Those who rise with the sun all have one thing in common.”
“Very funny. No, they all have a purpose that fans the flames of their inner potential. They are driven by their priorities, but not in an unhealthy, obsessive way. It is more effortless and gentle than that. And given their enthusiasm and love for what they are doing in their lives, such people live in the moment. Their attention is fully and completely on the task at hand. Therefore, there are no energy leaks. These people are the most vibrant and vital individuals you will ever have the good fortune to meet.”
“Energy leaks? Sounds a little New Agey, Julian. I’ll bet you didn’t learn that one at Harvard Law School.”
“True. The Sages of Sivana pioneered that concept. Though it has been around for centuries, its application is just as relevant today as it was when it was first developed. Too many of us are consumed by needless and endless worry. This drains us of our natural vitality and energy. Have you ever seen the inner tube of a bicycle tire?”
“When it is fully inflated, it can easily take you to your destination. But if there are leaks in it, the tube eventually deflates, and your journey comes to an abrupt end. This is also how the mind works. Worry causes your precious mental energy and potential to leak, just like air leaking out of an inner tube. Soon, you have no energy left. All of your creativity, optimism and motivation has been drained, leaving you exhausted.”
“I know the feeling. I often spend my days in the chaos of crisis. I have to be everywhere at once and I can’t seem to please anyone. On those days, I notice that even though I have done very little physical labor, all my worrying leaves me totally deflated by the end of the day. About the only thing I can do when I get home is pour myself a scotch and cuddle up with the remote control.”
“Exactly. Too much stress does this to you. Once you find your purpose, however, life becomes much easier and far more rewarding. When you figure out what your main aim or destiny really is, you will never have to work another day in your life.”
“No,” said Julian in the no-nonsense tone he had mastered during his days as an eminent lawyer. “Your work will be play.”
“Wouldn’t it be a little risky for me to give up my job to start searching for my overriding passion and purpose? I mean, I have a family and real obligations. I have four people who depend on me.”
“I’m not saying you that have to leave the legal profession tomorrow. You will, however, have to start taking risks. Shake up your life a bit. Get rid of the cobwebs. Take the road less travelled. Most people live within the confines of their comfort zone. Yogi Raman was the first person to explain to me that the best thing you can do for yourself is regularly move beyond it. This is the way to lasting personal mastery and to realize the true potential of your human endowments.”
“And what might those be?”
“Your mind, your body and your soul.”
“So what risks should I take?”
“Stop being so practical. Start doing the things you have always wanted to do. I have known lawyers who have quit their jobs to become stage actors and accountants who have become jazz musicians. In the process, they have found the deep happiness that had eluded them for so long. So what if they could no longer afford two vacations a year and a posh summer home in the Caymans? Calculated risk taking will pay huge dividends. How will you ever get to third base with one foot on second?”
“I see your point.”
“So take the time to think. Discover your real reason for being here and then have the courage to act on it.”
“With due respect, Julian, all I do is think. As a matter of fact, part of my problem is that I think too much. My mind never stops. It is filled with mental chatter — it drives me crazy sometimes.”