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Chapter 9, The Ancient Art of Self-Leadership. Part 7
“Excellent point, John. Brilliant in fact. It might seem like a contradiction, but it isn’t. Lifelong happiness does come through striving to realize your dreams. You are at your best when you are moving forward. The key is not to make your happiness contingent on finding that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For example, even though I was a millionaire many times over, I told myself that success to me meant having three hundred million dollars in my bank account. This was a recipe for disaster.”
“Three hundred million?” I asked in disbelief.
“Three hundred million. So no matter how much I had, I was never satisfied. I was always unhappy. It was nothing more than greed. I can now admit this freely. It was much like the story of King Midas. I’m sure you have heard that one?”
“Sure. The man who loved gold so much he prayed that everything he touched would turn to gold. When his wish was granted he rejoiced. That was until he realized that he couldn’t eat because his food had turned to gold and so on, so forth.”
“Right. Similarly, I was so money-driven that I couldn’t enjoy all that I had. You know there came a time when all that I could eat was bread and water,” Julian said, growing very quiet and pensive.
“Are you serious? I always thought you ate at the best restaurants with all those celebrity friends of yours.”
“That was in the early days. Not many people know about this, but the burden of my out-of-control lifestyle gave me a bleeding ulcer. I couldn’t even eat a hot dog without getting sick. What a life! All that money and all I could eat was bread and water. It was pathetic really.” Julian caught himself “But I’m not one to live in the past. It was another one of life’s great lessons. As I told you earlier, pain is a powerful teacher. To transcend pain, I had to first experience it. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it,” he said stoically.
“Any ideas on what I should do to bring the Ritual of Simplicity into my own life?” I asked.
“There are so many things you can do. Even little things will make a difference.”
“Stop picking up the phone every time it rings, stop wasting time reading junk mail, stop eating out three times a week, give up your golf-club membership and spend more time with your kids, spend a day a week without your watch, watch the sun rise every few days, sell your cellular phone and dump the pager. Need I continue?” Julian asked rhetorically.
“I get the point. But sell the cell phone?” I asked anxiously, feeling as a baby might at the doctor’s suggestion that his umbilical cord should be cut.
“Like I’ve said, my duty is to share the wisdom I have learned through my journey with you. You need not apply every strategy to make your life work. Try the techniques and use those that feel right to you.”
“I know. Nothing to extremes, everything in moderation.”
“I have to admit though, every one of your strategies sounds great. But will they really bring about profound shifts in my life in only thirty days?”
“It will take even less than thirty days — and even more,” said Julian, with his trademark look of dimpled mischievousness.
“Here we go again. Do explain, O Wise One.”
“‘Julian’ will be fine, although ‘Wise One’ would have looked formidable on my old letterhead,” he joked. “I say it will take less than thirty days because true life change is spontaneous.”
“Yes, it happens in the blink of an eye, the very moment you decide from the deepest core of your being that you will raise your life to its highest level. In that instant, you will be a changed person, one set on the course of his destiny.”
“And why longer than thirty days?”
“I promise you that by practicing these strategies and tools, you will see marked improvements in one month from this moment. You will have more energy, less worries, more creativity and less stress in every aspect of your life. Having said this, the sages’ methods are not of the quick-fix kind. They are ageless traditions which are meant to be applied daily, for the rest of your days. If you stop applying them, you will find that you will gradually slide back into your old ways.”
After Julian had explained the Ten Rituals for Radiant Living to me, he paused. “I know that you want me to keep going so I will. I believe so strongly in what I am sharing with you that I don’t mind keeping you up all night. Perhaps this is a good time to get a little deeper.”
“What exactly do you mean? I think all that I have heard tonight is pretty deep,” I said in surprise.
“The secrets I have explained will allow you and all those you come into contact with to create the lives you desire. But there is much more to the philosophy of the Sages of Sivana than meets the eye. What I have taught you up to now has been immensely practical. But you must know something of the underlying spiritual current which flows through the principles I have outlined. If you do not understand what I am speaking about, don’t worry at this point. Simply take it in and chew on it for a while, you can digest it later.”
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?”
“Precisely,” said Julian, now smiling. “You always were a quick study.”
“Okay, let’s hear the spiritual stuff,” I said energetically, unaware that it was nearly two-thirty in the morning.
“Within you lies the sun, the moon, the sky and all the wonders of this universe. The intelligence that created these wonders is the same force that created you. All things around you come from the same source. We are all one.”
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
“Every being on this Earth, every object on this Earth has a soul. All souls flow into one, this is the Soul of the Universe. You see, John, when you nourish your own mind and your own spirit, you are really feeding the Soul of the Universe. When you improve yourself, you are improving the lives of all those around you. And when you have the courage to advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, you begin to draw upon the power of the universe. As I told you earlier, life gives you what you ask of it. It is always listening.”
“So self-mastery and kaizen will help me help others by helping me help myself?”
“Something like that. As you enrich your mind, as you care for your body and as you nurture your spirit, you will come to understand exactly what I am saying.”
“Julian. I know you mean well. But self-mastery is a pretty high ideal for a 215-pound family man who, up to now, has spent more time on client development than personal development. What happens if I fail?”
“Failure is not having the courage to try, nothing more and nothing less. The only thing standing between most people and their dreams is the fear of failure. Yet failure is essential to success in any endeavor. Failure tests us and allows us to grow. It offers us lessons and guides us along the path of enlightenment. The teachers of the East say that every arrow that hits the bull’s eye is the result of one hundred misses. It is a fundamental Law of Nature to profit through loss. Never fear failure. Failure is your friend.”
“Embrace failure?” I asked in disbelief.
“The universe favors the brave. When you resolve, once and for all, to lift your life to its highest level, the strength of your soul will guide you. Yogi Raman believed that everyone’s destiny was laid out for them at birth. This path always leads to a magical place filled with magnificent treasures. It was up to each individual to develop the courage to walk this way. There is a story he shared with me that I would like to pass on to you. Once, in ancient India, there was an evil giant who owned a magnificent castle overlooking the sea. As the giant had been away for many years fighting in wars, the children of the nearby village used to come into the giant’s beautiful garden and play with great delight. One day, the giant returned and threw all of the young children out of his garden. ‘Never return here!’ he yelled as he slammed the huge oak door in disgust. He then erected a huge marble wall around the garden to keep the children out.
“Winter came with bitter cold which is native to the northernmost parts of the Indian subcontinent, and the giant wished the warmth would soon return. Spring visited the village which lay below the giant’s castle, but the icy claws of winter refused to leave his garden. Then, one day, the giant finally smelled the fragrances of Spring and felt the radiance of the sun through his windows. “Spring has finally returned!” he cried, running out into the garden. But the giant was unprepared for the sight which greeted him. The children of the village had somehow managed to climb over the castle wall and were playing in the garden. It was because of their presence that the garden had been transformed from a wintry wasteland into a lush place filled with roses, daffodils and orchids. All the children laughed and giggled with joy, but one. From the corner of his eye, the giant spotted a little boy who was much smaller than all the other children. Tears ran from his eyes as he did not have the strength to climb the wall into the garden. The giant felt sad for this boy and, for the first time in his life, regretted his evil ways. ‘I will help this child,’ he said, running towards him. When all the other children saw the giant coming, they ran from the garden, fearing for their lives. But the tiny little boy stood his ground. ‘I will slay the giant,’ he stammered. ‘I will defend our playground.’
“As the giant approached the child, he opened his arms. ‘I am a friend,’ he said. ‘I have come to help you over the wall and into the garden. This will be your garden now.'” The little boy, now a hero amongst the children, rejoiced in happiness and gave the giant the golden necklace which he had always worn around his neck. ‘This is my lucky charm,’ he said. ‘I want you to have it.’
“From that day on, the children played with the giant in his wonderful garden. But the brave little boy whom the giant loved the most never did return. As time went on, the giant grew ill and frail. The children continued to play in the garden but the giant no longer had the strength to keep them company. In those quiet days, it was the little boy who the giant thought of the most.
“One day, in the midst of a particularly bitter winter, the giant glanced out his window and saw a truly miraculous sight: though most of the garden was covered in snow, at the center of the garden there stood a magnificent rosebush overflowing with spectacularly colored flowers. Next to the roses stood the little boy who the giant loved. The boy was smiling sweetly. The giant danced with delight and rushed outside to embrace the child. ‘Where have you been all these years, my young friend? I’ve missed you with all my heart.’
“The boy was thoughtful in his response. ‘Many years ago you lifted me over the wall into your magical garden. Now, I have come to take you into mine.’ Later that day, when the children came to visit the giant they found him lying lifeless on the ground.
From head to toe, he was covered by a thousand beautiful roses.
“Always be brave, John, like that little boy. Stand your ground and follow your dreams. They will lead you to your destiny. Follow your destiny, it will lead you into the wonders of the universe. And always follow the wonders of the universe, for they will lead you to a special garden filled with roses.”
As I looked over at Julian to tell him that this story had touched me deeply, I saw something that startled me: this rock-hard legal gladiator who had spent the better part of his life defending the rich and famous had started to weep.