When we choose an action, we choose the result, even if that result is not one we could have possibly foreseen.
If we don’t consider the possible outcomes of our actions, there is a genuine risk that we will do more harm then good to ourselves as well as to others.
If we don’t take action until after we have fully considered the possible outcomes of our actions, we won’t ever take action because truly we can never fully know. Every thought, every action, changes the course of history in ways we will never know.
We are left with one viable option: choose what feels most right within the context of our limited understanding as viewed through the lens of the intention we hold for our lives. From there, we begin to notice how we feel as the ripples from our actions reveal themselves. Those feelings can then inform our future actions, and align us more fully with the intention we hold for our lives.
One key, then, to integral action is to hold a clear intention for our lives which transcends the substance of our lives. When viewed through this lens, each choice is no longer simply about what we think we want: each choice becomes a beacon of who we are.
In this way, “why” we make the choices we make is more telling of our character than the actual choices themselves. From there, “how” we take responsibility for the ripples of our actions tells the rest of our character’s story. It is either a story of intention or one of chance: a story of mastery or a story of speculation.
When our mind is absorbed entirely in the pursuit of achieving a specific outcome, we can miss a wealth of opportunities. Finding and maintaining just the right amount of tension between achieving a specific goal and allowing for other possibilities is a genuine art. It’s a skill worth cultivating, though, if your ultimate goal is to experience the fullest possible expression of yourself in this lifetime.
So what does it take to strike the perfect balance? It’s not as difficult as one might think. The answer: one conscious breath.
Maintaining a bit of awareness on our breath as we perform the tasks in our day creates an open quality to whatever it is we are doing. We are no longer fully identified with the task, which allows us to experience this moment more fully and respond more skillfully. We are far more apt to notice subtle nuances and epic possibilities than if we are intent on one specific outcome. This extra bit of vision dynamically informs our actions and empowers us to make synergistic course corrections along the way.
Our ultimate destination is not one we can know at the beginning of the journey. Navigation is an iterative process best served by noticing cues along the way and responding accordingly. Each moment then becomes one of authentic discovery. The result? A consistent experience of enduring fulfillment and meaningful success.
Feeling stuck? Confused? Uncertain how to move forward in your life in a powerful and meaningful way?
Often we use our fear of failure as an excuse not to take a leadership role in our life. Choosing the devil we know can seem a safer strategy than choosing the devil we don’t know. The trouble is, we end up living half-lives at the mercy of mass markets and elite moguls. What isn’t always apparent is that the devil is just an angel in disguise.
We have to want the experience of leadership, win or lose, more than we fear the uncertainty of it. Only then will it hold any meaning for us.
An idealist looks at life through a lens of self: through a lens of hopes, dreams, and skepticism harvested from a field of experiences rooted in his innate disposition. He sees various configurations of his success and failure, and angles for what he believes are his highest possible opportunities. The key word there is “possible”: he may in fact see other higher opportunities, but he won’t angle for those he does not believe he can achieve.
A visionary looks at life through the lens of universal patterns: patterns rooted in the beginning of time and revealing themselves in this singular moment. He fearlessly sees an inevitable outcome, and lives his life in alignment with that insight. It is not about his hopes and dreams, or the reality he most wants or fears. This stabilizing viewpoint allows him to glide more effortlessly and effectively through his daily life, as he is not bogged down by “what if’s” and “why’s”.
I encourage you to let go of ideals: not forever, just for a moment. Only when you can see the limitations they contain should you pick them up again. From this vantage point, you no longer have the capacity to blame anyone but yourself for the limitations you perceive.
The alternative is to leave those ideals on the altar of society, and refocus your highly developed lens to find the patterns at work both in the world and in your daily life. Once discovered, you naturally align with them. You diverge from society’s vision and blaze your own trail.
Only when we sense the inherent perfection of a situation can we effectively bring change. We no longer try to change a situation for the “good” of the world. In seeing the beauty and significance of the weed, the ultimate good has already happened. The thing that needed changing first was our mind.
Disengaging from the battle for justice, we become the innocent field upon which that battle is fought. We draw nutrients from the blood being spilled, and make good use of the decaying bodies buried beneath our surface.
Having detached from the need to change anything, we are now free to change, or not change, those situations that penetrate our awareness. And whichever throne we choose to serve, we are not wrong. Each choice has an inherent perfection in alignment with the whole. The choice arises from sheer inspiration: not to make right, but to discover.
The result: Pristine innocence steers innate wisdom in response to a greater knowing than our own.
Trying to gain a genuine sense of empowerment in our lives is a daunting, if not impossible, endeavor. We are pushed and pulled by forces that seem* unsympathetic to the longing within our hearts. When we try to take control of an aspect that we feel is undermining us most, like our health or our career, we often end up falling back into our old habits and berating ourselves for our lack of willpower.
My suggestion: Stop trying to change anything. Surrender to your life just as it is right now. Disengage from the battle. Follow its lead like a dutiful soldier. Not forever, just for a while. Just long enough for you to see how every element of your life is there because of a choice you made.
Aligning with our life reveals the subtle patterns at work within and around us. Because our creative energy is no longer bogged down resisting what pops up in our day, we are free to enjoy its ebbs and flows. An excited curiosity takes root where once there was only malaise. Tiny sparks of inspiration pop and crackle in preparation for the purifying wildfire about to engulf us.
Recognizing that our “burdens” arise from the choices we make empowers us to discover the misconceptions that led us to make those choices. Our choices now arise from a level of cause rather than effect. We are no longer a victim of circumstance, but a creator of worlds. A moment of feeling “put upon” becomes our cue to reconnect to this budding sense of possibilities as we learn the subtle yet powerful art of personal mastery.
Have an inspired day!
[*The seeming insensitivity of the forces around us arises out of utter compassion. The unyielding “finger” ruthlessly pinning us forces us to shed false idealism. Were these forces to align with our ideals, there would be no impetus for us to dig deeper and we would be cheated out of the opportunity to discover our authentic self.]
Sunny rays reflect
off masterful ice crystals
warming bitter winds
We want our lives to count for something. We want our actions to impact the world in profound ways. Yet that notion can undermine our ability to even get out of bed in the morning. Unless we feel we have some ambition or some person to devote our actions to, we often feel incapable of doing anything.
I have been on all sides of that coin (including the edges). There was a time when I felt hopeless and useless, like a target in need of an arrow. Other times I have felt inspired but ineffective, like an arrow in need of a target. It seemed like this unsolvable riddle. I didn’t know what to do, so I wouldn’t do anything, hoping instead to be found: by some person or some ambition.
Then one day, quite unintentionally, the riddle was solved. I was in the midst of a crisis in the summer of 2009. The debilitating quandary at that precise moment: “I don’t know what to do. What can I do?”
The question arose from a place of utter futility. Those words were the last of everything I had. Once spoken, even though it was just to myself, those words emptied me of any hope of finding an answer.
In the pristine stillness that followed, a steady, rather nonchalant question met mine: “Well, what can you do right now?”
I looked around: I was standing in the midst of a kitchen overflowing with dishes and papers and spills and chaos. I answered emptily: “I can clean the kitchen”.
A disinterested reply followed: “Then do that.”
Heaving a sigh at the pointlessness of it all, I resigned myself to the task at hand. As I started hurrying through the dishes, awareness shifted away from the task and onto the rich warmth of the sun on my face. My pace slowed, igniting a spark of curiosity. What other richness was I overlooking?
My actions slowed even more, and I began to notice the wonderful play of energy within and around me. All of life had led me to this one epic moment. The miracle of it all unfolded before me. This was no dish I was washing: this was a pinnacle result of a rather extensive and daunting chain of events.
I felt humbled. My actions slowed even more as I created space to take in the magnitude of it all. As I moved through the kitchen, each area revealed a deeper sense of wonder. Each area served as an opportunity for me to experience and express humility for my prior arrogance of discounting these every day activities as burdensome.
Somewhere along the way I realized: I wasn’t cleaning the mess in the kitchen, I was cleaning the mess within myself. By the time I was done, I felt cleansed and alive. I was inspired: I was an arrow that had found its target. This was something tangible that I could share with the world.
The answer to the riddle: Purpose is not a question of what profound thing we can do, but simply a matter of doing what we can do in a profound way.
So let me ask you: What is one thing you resist doing because it seems burdensome? Is it possible that this task can become a gateway to inspiration? Perhaps our purpose is not a matter of what we do, but a matter of how we do what we do. A far more empowering question than “what can I do?” is the question: “What can I do right now?”
You can’t fall once you have realized you are the foundation from which it all arises.
We crave in the external world that which we cannot sense within ourselves.
No sense rebuilding a house without first replacing the defective foundation.
Conditional gratitude is not gratitude.
If I was not the way I am, then I would simply be another way.
Going out to play.
Love, heartbreak: Two sides, one coin.
Home again, shoeless.
Incapable of mistakes
Dance then land with ease
Quiet frog sitting,
Itch slips away unwitting,
Nourishing the bug.
Resounding silence cradled the war-torn battlefield as soldiers fell dying and the opposing Generals met on common ground to discuss terms, each resolute that their sovereign nation remain intact. Meanwhile, the nearby King warmed himself with a hearty oat and berry cookie and a steaming cup of imported tea.
The tempestuous walls ran incessantly, for there was nothing for them to hit.
The farmer cannot feed the world if he hasn’t grown the grain.