There are 2 phrases I’ve been finding extraordinarily useful in the past few years:
1. Don’t take anything personally. I encountered this powerful advice in the book The Four Agreements – A Toltec Wisdom Book, by Don Miguel Ruiz,(1) which I recommend highly & unreservedly to any & everyone.
Author Miguel Ruiz explains that if we always remember that what other people do is really about them, & not about us, we need no longer be thrown off-course by anyone else’s nonsense, neuroses, hang-ups, behaviour, opinions, etc.
In addition, I have up in my living room a wonderful item entitled “Wisdom of the Elders” attributed to the Hopi nation in Oraibi, Arizona, in which we are reminded that we are not only not to take anything personally, we are not even to take ourselves personally! (2)
This leads very nicely to the second highly useful phrase…
2. “Everything isn’t all about ME.” You can (or perhaps already have) read my thoughts about this in another essay, so I will not belabour it here.
Finally, the “provocative question”:
What am I here for??
If you accept the wisdom & challenge inherent in the 2 useful phrases, you may begin to grasp that we are not, in fact, here on Planet Earth for our own personal gratification, as so many of us appear to suppose.
We each have a purpose (at least, that’s what I think).
If you haven’t yet figured out your own, try getting quiet with yourself on a regular, daily basis. Go for regular walks, swims, canoe or kayak rides & get in touch with your inner voice (yoga & meditation will also surely help). Time in Nature is very, very beneficial…for your soul & also to help you get quiet & figure out what’s really what…
My own personal belief is that we are each here merely as a channel. Whatever riches, talents or gifts we have been blessed with are meant to be shared with our fellow human beings. It’s all about the sharing – definitely not about hoarding for our own selfish purposes. I’m pretty sure about that…
What is your gift?
How are you meant to share it?
P.S. There is a wonderful Leonard Cohen song on his (utterly amazing) “Ten New Songs” CD. In “By the Rivers Dark” he sings, “Then he struck my heart with a deadly force, And he said, ‘This heart, it is not yours.’”
Hooey. Such power in his voice, & in those words (please listen to the CD; it’s absolutely fantastic!!).
I do believe he’s said something pretty darn profound there. Our hearts are not our own. We are here for each other. The more we open up our hearts, the bigger they grow; the more room they have in them, the more we can do (& there is plenty, plenty, plenty that needs doing!!).
It’s like magic, hmmm?
(1) The Four Agreements – A Toltec Wisdom Book, Don Miguel Ruiz, Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997. The other three agreements are just as powerful, challenging and useful…
(2) “Wisdom of the Elders
There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
WE ARE THE ONES WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR.