Chapter 4: A Fulfilling Life
You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
7 If a man walks in the woods for the love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer, but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making Earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.
– Henry Dave Thoreau, “Life Without Principle”
As you continue to question yourself about what a successful or fulfilling life looks and feels like, understand that the ego has already secretly taught you what it looks and feels like. You now think you know how it looks and feels because in one way or another, consciously or not, the ego has already defined it for you, and on some level you have already accepted the ego’s definition. My friend, continue to question, for if you have not received total peace in regard to this issue in your life then you have not fully questioned the ego’s answer. Consider the following example: There are two men, one who is homeless, and the other driving a Ferrari. Understand that after reading the previous sentence your ego has already stored within your mind what a homeless man and a man driving a Ferrari look like, how successful and fulfilled their lives are, who has followed the rules and who hasn’t, and who is the happier being. So what would the ego-self see and what would the Godself see? How would the ego-self feel about both men and how would the Godself feel about them?
The ego-self would see both men as separate; separated by their bodies. It would see one man as being successful and one man as being a failure. The ego is the ruler of the world of illusion and in that world success is mostly defined by material possessions. Those self-enslaved by believing that illusions are real fabricate the idea that happiness is obtained by becoming successful, and that success is mostly measured by material possessions. Put another way, the ego would have you see a homeless man with no possessions as a failure, as an unhappy person, as a lower being to be pitied or feared, or even as someone with whom you should be disgusted. It would also have you see the man in the Ferrari as a happy, successful man and a higher being to be admired and respected.
The ego, the ruler of the world of illusion, would have you believe that the homeless individual is a failure because he has not followed the rules of the ruler. The ego would have you believe that if you were to follow its laws, you would be a success, and if you don’t follow its laws, you will be a failure. The ego is thus saying that this man is homeless because he has failed to follow its rules. The ego would also warn you that if you don’t follow its rules, you will also be seen as a failure and made homeless.
The ego rules by fear because that’s all it knows. It has invested a lot of time into making you believe its fairy tale is true. It has already instilled in you the belief that you can be a failure. It knows that you fear being a failure and that you fear being homeless, and thus it uses these fears against you in order to control you. But the only reason that you fear being a failure and that you fear being homeless is that you believe that you can be. Fear and failure are used by the ego to chain you to its world. It has also enslaved many others in its name, and has taught them how to judge those who dare not follow its laws. The ego, with its soldiers of judgment, observes your every move. From its ivory tower, it guards your every thought, waiting for you to disagree with its laws, to send its judgment upon you. Those who believe themselves to be enslaved by the ego, those who see the ego as their master, carry out this judgment. They obey the ego because they fear the ego. Because they have bought into the ego’s illusionary thought system, they believe that they and their brothers and sisters are separate, and because they are separate, one can be judged without affecting the other.
And so you see the homeless man on the street, and you pity him. Because you believe in separation, you see him as less than you. You tell yourself that it is because he has not followed the laws of the ego that he is where he is. You might even be disgusted by or afraid of him, for the ego has taught you how to judge those who do not fit its mold. The ego tells you that those who do not follow its rules are dangerous more often than not. It tells you that they might want to take your possessions away or even hurt you, so you lock your doors and roll up your car windows in an effort to further separate yourself from your brother. As you do this, your heart silently begins to ache, for separating yourself from a brother is not a natural reaction. Your heart feels empty and you wonder why, for you are following the ego’s laws, the laws that the ego swore would make you happy and whole. You feel as if you’ve missed an opportunity, and deep down in your spirit, you know you have. You pass by a homeless man and feel as if something stays with him, almost as if your spirit is reaching back trying to embrace your brother. Your body begins to walk away but your spirit holds on to your brother for as long as it can. It holds on while it tries to remind your mind of the truth within you both.
But the ego is watching, and you won’t have others judge you for doing something out of the norm. So you walk away, and you dismiss your heart’s appeal by rationalizing that whatever assistance you would have offered would have made no difference, or would have been misused. You think you would have made no difference, but out of six billion people, God chose you, be it for a moment in time, to be with your brother, to assist your brother. Out of six billion people, God chose you.
The ego tells you that your behavior is normal, that this is safe, that you will not be judged if you follow the norm. And yet after following the ego’s rules, are you still not judged every day of your life by others who also see themselves as being normal? Has the world, that is ruled by the ego, truly found peace by following the ego’s rules? Is the world any better off if you step away and turn your head the other way as you walk by a homeless brother? Yet, isn’t this what the world would have you understand to be a normal reaction, a reaction that will be less judged by your brothers?
So my friend, I ask your heart, for only your heart can answer these questions truly: Who is really homeless here? Is it the person who is asking for assistance, or is it the person who will not assist? Is it the person on his knees reaching out for you or is it the person who, as he walks by, turns his or her head the other way in order to not be bothered? Is it the person who has lost everything, or is it the person who will not search his or her soul? My friend, your heart knows the answers to these questions because your heart holds on to the truth of who you are. The ego would have you look away from your heart, but where has this thought system ever truly gotten you? Has it offered the world peace? Has it even offered you peace?
The time is coming when you will choose to look within. The time is coming when you will look into your brother or sister’s eyes and see yourself reflected in them. For when you truly look at a brother or sister, when you look closely into his or her eyes, do you not see yourself reflected in them? Does this mean nothing to you? My friend, if there is one thing I can promise you it is this: The time is coming when you will turn to your brother or sister, take his or her hand and smile.
The following quote by Norman Cousins author of “Human Options,” illustrates how every situation presents an opportunity to demonstrate compassion to our brothers and sisters.
8 Compassion is not quantitative. Certainly it is true that behind every human being who cries out for help there may be a million or more equally entitled to attention. But this is the poorest of all reasons for not helping the person whose cries you hear. Where, then, does one begin or stop? How to choose? How to determine which one of a million sounds surrounding you is more deserving than the rest? Do not concern yourself in such speculations. You will never know; you will never need to know. Reach out and take hold of the one who happens to be nearest. If you are never able to help or save another, at least you will have saved one. To help put meaning into a single life may not produce universal regeneration, but it happens to represent the basic form of energy in a society. It also is the test of individual responsibility.
– Norman Cousins, Human Options
7. Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle, Copyright 1997 (Folcroft Library Edition).
8. Norman Cousins, Human Options, Copyright 1981 (W.W. Norton & Company).
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