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Chapter 3, The Miraculous Transformation of Julian Mantle. Part 3
What was the reason behind this?
Let me ask you, John. What do you do before you go to sleep every night?
I watch the news with Jenny, the same as most people I know.
I kind of thought so, replied Julian, with a mysterious twinkle in his eyes.
I don’t get it. What could possibly be wrong with getting a little shot of the news before I go to sleep?
The ten-minute period before you sleep and the ten-minute period after you wake up are profoundly influential on your subconscious mind. Only the most inspiring and serene thoughts should be programmed into your mind at those times.
You make the mind sound like a computer.
That’s a pretty fair way to look at it — what you put in is what you get out. Even more important is the fact that you alone are the programmer. By determining the thoughts that go in, you also are determining precisely what will come out. So, before you go to sleep, don’t watch the news or argue with anyone or even go over the day’s events in your mind’s eye. Relax. Drink a cup of herbal tea, if you like. Listen to some soft classical music and prepare yourself to drift off into a rich, renewing slumber.
It makes sense. The better the sleep, the less I will need.
Exactly. And remember the Ancient Rule of Twenty-one: if you do anything for twenty-one days in a row, it will be installed as a habit. So stay with the early-rising routine for about three weeks before you give up because it feels too uncomfortable. By then it will be a part of your life. Within short order you will be able to rise at 5:30 a.m. or even at 5:00 a.m. with ease, ready to savor the splendor of another great day.
Okay, so let’s say that I am getting up every day at five-thirty. What do I do?
Your questions show that you are thinking, my friend. I appreciate this. Once you are up, there are many things you can do. The fundamental principle to keep in mind is the importance of starting your day off well. As I’ve suggested, the thoughts you think and the actions you take in the first ten minutes after you wake up have a very marked effect on the rest of your day.
Absolutely. Think positive thoughts. Give a prayer of thanks for all you have. Work on your gratitude list. Listen to some great music. Watch the sun come up, or perhaps go for a quick walk in natural surroundings if you feel up to it. The sages would actually make themselves laugh whether they felt like it or not, just to get the ‘happiness juices’ flowing early in the morning.
Julian, I am trying very hard to keep my cup empty — and I think you will agree that I’ve done pretty well for a novice. But that really sounds odd, even for a band of monks living high in the Himalayas.
But it is not. Take a guess how many times the average four year-old laughs in a day.
I do, three hundred. Now guess how many times the average adult in our society laughs in the course of a day.
Fifty? I tried.
Try fifteen, Julian said, smiling in satisfaction. “You see my point? Laughing is medicine for the soul. Even if you don’t feel like it, look in the mirror and laugh for a couple of minutes. You can’t help but feel fantastic. William James said, ‘We don’t laugh because we are happy. We are happy because we laugh.’ So start your day on a delightful footing. Laugh, play and give thanks for all you have. Every day will be an exquisitely rewarding one.”
What do you do to start your day off on a positive footing?
Actually, I have developed quite a sophisticated morning routine which includes everything from the Heart of the Rose to drinking a couple of glasses of freshly squeezed fruit juice. But there is one strategy in particular which I would like to share with you.
“It is. Shortly after you have awakened, go into your sanctuary of silence. Get still and focused. Then ask yourself this question: ‘What would I do today if today was my last?’ The key is to really get into the meaning of this question. Mentally list all the things you would do, the people you would call and the moments you would savor. Envision yourself doing these things with great energy. Visualize how you would treat your family and your friends. Even picture how you would treat total strangers if today was your last day on the planet. As I told you earlier, when you live every day as if it was your last, your life will take on a magical quality.
And this brings me to the seventh of the Rituals of Radiant Living: the Ritual of Music.
I think I’m going to love this one, I replied.
I’m sure you will. The sages loved their music. It gave them the same spiritual boost as the sun did. Music made them laugh, it made them dance and it made them sing. It will do the same for you. Never forget the power of music. Spend a little time with it every day, even if it is listening to a soft piece on a cassette while you drive to work. When you feel down or weary, play some music. It is one of the finest motivators I know of.
Aside from yourself! I exclaimed sincerely. “Just listening to you makes me feel great. You really have changed, Julian, and not just on the outside. Gone is your old cynicism. Gone is your former negativity. Gone is your old aggressiveness. You really do seem to be at peace with yourself. You have touched me tonight.”
Hey, there’s more! shouted Julian with his fist in the air. “Let’s keep going.”
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Okay. The eighth ritual is the Ritual of the Spoken Word. The sages had a series of mantras which they would recite morning, noon and night. They told me that this practice was immensely effective in keeping them focused, strong and happy.
What’s a mantra? I asked.
A mantra is nothing more than a collection of words strung together to create a positive effect. In Sanskrit, ‘man’ means ‘mind’ and ‘tra’ means ‘freeing.’ So a mantra is a phrase which is designed to free the mind. And, believe me, John, mantras accomplish this objective in a very powerful way.
Are you using mantras in your daily routine?
I sure am. They are my faithful companions wherever I go. Whether I am on the bus, walking to the library or watching the world go by in a park, I am constantly affirming all that is good in my world through mantras.
So mantras are spoken?
They do not have to be. Written affirmations are also very effective. But I have found that repeating a mantra aloud has a wonderful effect on my spirit. When I need to feel motivated, I might repeat, ‘I am inspired, disciplined and energized’ out loud two or three hundred times. To maintain the supreme sense of self-confidence I have cultivated, I repeat, ‘I am strong, able and calm.’ I even use mantras to keep me youthful and vital, Julian admitted.
How could a mantra keep you young?
Words affect the mind in a pronounced way. Whether they are spoken or written, they are powerful influences. While what you say to others is important, even more important is what you say to yourself.
Exactly. You are what you think about all day long. You are also what you say to yourself all day long. If you say that you are old and tired, this mantra will be manifested in your external reality. If you say you are weak and lack enthusiasm, this too will be the nature of your world. But if you say that you are healthy, dynamic and fully alive, your life will be transformed. You see, the words you say to yourself affect your self-image and your self-image determines what actions you take. For example, if your self-image is one of a person who lacks the confidence to do anything of value, you will only be able to take actions which are aligned with this trait. On the other hand, if your self-image is one of a radiant individual who is fearless, again, all your actions will correspond to this quality. Your self-image is a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.
If you believe that you are unable to do something, let’s say, find that perfect partner or live a stress-free life, your beliefs will affect your self-image. In turn, your self-image will prevent you from taking steps to find the perfect partner or to create a serene life for yourself. It will actually sabotage any efforts you might make in this direction.
Why does it work this way?
Simple. Your self-image is a governor of sorts. It will never let you act in a way that is inconsistent with it. The beautiful thing is that you can change your self-image, just like you can change everything else in your life if it is not serving to enhance it. Mantras are a great way accomplish this objective.
And when I change my inner world, I change my outer world, I said dutifully.
My, how quickly you learn, Julian said, giving me the thumbs-up sign he had used so much in his former life as a star litigator.
Which leads us into the Ninth Ritual of Radiant Living quite nicely. This is the Ritual of a Congruent Character. It is sort of an off-shoot of the self-image concept we were just talking about. Simply stated, this ritual requires you to take daily, incremental action to build your character. Strengthening your character affects the way you see yourself and the actions you take. The actions you take come together to form your habits and, this is important, your habits lead you to your destiny. Perhaps Yogi Raman articulated the formula best when he stated: ‘You sow a thought, you reap an action. Reap an action, you sow a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap your destiny.’
What kinds of things should I do to build my character?
Anything that cultivates your virtues. Before you ask me what I mean by ‘virtues,’ let me clarify the concept. The wise people of the Himalayas believed strongly that a virtuous life was a meaningful life. So they governed all of their actions by a series of timeless principles.
But I thought you said they governed their lives by their purpose?
Yes, this is quite so, but their life’s calling included living in a manner congruent to these principles, ones that their ancestors held dear to their hearts for thousands of years.
What are these principles, Julian? I asked.
They are, simply stated: industry, compassion, humility, patience, honesty and courage. When all your actions are congruent and aligned with these principles, you will feel a deep sense of inner harmony and peace. Living this way will inevitably lead you to spiritual success. This is because you will be doing what is right. You will be acting in a way that is in accordance with the laws of nature and the laws of the universe. This is when you will start to tap into the energy of another dimension, call it a higher power if you will. This is also when your life will move from the ordinary into the realm of the extraordinary and you begin to sense the sacredness of your being. It is the first step to lifelong enlightenment.
Have you tasted this experience? I asked.
I have, and I believe you will too. Do the right things. Act in a way that is congruent with your true character. Act with integrity. Be guided by your heart. The rest will take care of itself. You are never alone, you know, replied Julian.
What do you mean?
I’ll explain it to you another time perhaps. For now, remember that you must do little things every day to build your character. As Emerson said: ‘Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as to think.’ Your character is built when you act in a way that corresponds with the principles I’ve just mentioned. If you fail to do this, true happiness will always elude you.
And the final ritual?
“This is the all-important Ritual of Simplicity. This ritual requires you to live a simple life. As Yogi Raman said ‘one must never live in the thick of thin things. Focus only on your priorities, those activities which are truly meaningful. Your life will be uncluttered, rewarding and exceptionally peaceful. This I promise you.’
He was right. The moment I started to separate the wheat from the chaff, harmony filled my life. I stopped living at the frenetic pace to which I had grown accustomed. I stopped living my life in the eye of the tornado. Instead, I slowed down and took the time to smell the proverbial roses.
What things did you do to cultivate simplicity?
I stopped wearing expensive clothes, I kicked my addiction to six newspapers a day, I stopped needing to be available to everyone all the time, I became a vegetarian and I ate less. Basically, I reduced my needs. You see, John, unless you reduce your needs, you will never be fulfilled. You will always be like that gambler in Las Vegas, staying at the roulette wheel for ‘just one more spin’ in the hope that your lucky number will come up. You will always want more than you have. How can you ever be happy?
But earlier you told me that happiness comes from achievement. Now you are telling me to reduce my needs and be content with less. Isn’t this a paradox?