Every morning I step out onto the train platform ready for day to begin. It’s only a five minute walk and encompasses me scrambling to make the light, a minute and a half walk to the next set of lights, waiting, crossing the street, and entering my building. Headphones are in and the latest audio book is drowning out the external world. It happened to be Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu, an interesting look at the fortunes of successful vs. unsuccessful nations. I’m not far enough in to give a measured opinion, though I will say it’s nice to mix things up. Broaden that learning curve so to speak.
Perhaps more interesting was the decision to snap this photo. I’m happy how it turned out; the pink hues of the morning sun reflecting off the wet streets. There is a calmness to it as the city begins to awaken. Taking the photo amounted to 15 seconds of my life and yet there was a series of choices over the past week leading up to it, culminating in the decision to pack my camera in my bag and mindfully take note of things going on around me.
It started a few weeks back with the ruminations about what Mindful Lifter meant to me. Was it still a place to reflect on mindfulness and how does that fit with my new project. Books and Beers is fun but reflects a different side; other interests that I wanted to focus on and have some fun with. It also was taking up most of my time; both in thought and action. Time was passing and it felt as though this arena was drying up (you can see it in my last post). Not only here, my morning meditations were becoming distracted. The energy of a new venture can be overpowering and the dust began collecting on this one. It’s not unusual to find ourselves in these situations. The point where old ventures become stale and perhaps not as exciting. Do we let them fizzle or do we reconnect with what makes them interesting? A choice.
A couple of things happened this week that gave me a bit of perspective and the boost of energy needed to make a decision. I’ve been reading through, and enjoying, Osho’s Meetings With Remarkable People. His take on all of the famous mystics through the ages with mixed together with his own views is fascinating. He looks at figures such as Jesus, Krishna, and Lao-Tzu to name a few. One in particular struck me. Pythagoras. Break out those math textbooks; that Pythagoras. Unbeknownst to me he was actually “the” sage of the Western world at the time and not just on mathematics but spirituality, and life in general. According to Osho, he coined the term philosophy before the likes of Aristotle and Plato were around. Osho provides an enlightening perspective on Pythagoras:
“His whole life he was a seeker, a pilgrim, in search of a philosophy. Philosophy in the true sense of the word: love for wisdom. He was a lover, a philosopher – not in the modern sense of the word but in the old, ancient sense of the word. Because a lover cannot only speculate, a lover cannot only think about truth: a lover has to search, risk, adventure.”
Imagine the feeling of seeking wisdom from the base of taking risks, seeking adventure. Seeking wisdom without a framework already existing to base it on. Creating philosophy and not simply reading about it in textbooks. It makes me want to dive into what Pythagoras is really about. Sadly, he didn’t leave a vast trove of literature like many of the later philosophers of the time so my search may be limited. Osho goes on to talk about an interesting topic that has been nagging at me for some time. How materialism, especially in today’s culture, can fit with spiritual views such as Eastern traditions and even the ideas behind meditation and mindfulness. He credits Pythagoras for being the one to understand something vital to the human condition; the need for both.
“The West has chosen science; it has all the riches of the world, but the man is completely lost, feeling meaningless, suicidal. The man, when he looks inside, finds nothing but hollowness, emptiness. The inner world has become very poor in the West. In the East, just the opposite has happened: people have chosen religion against science. Their inner world is calmer, quieter, richer; but on the outside they are starving dying – no food, no medicine, no facilities to live a human life, living almost like animals or worse.”
He concludes that this gap must be bridged; similar to the gap I’ve been facing in my own life.
“… There is no need for anybody to be just a materialist or just a spiritualist. If body and soul can exist together – they ARE existing together in you, in everybody – then why can’t materialism and spiritualism exist together? They should.”
His ultimate conclusion sealed it for me.
“A man must be materialist and spiritualist. To choose is fatal. There is no need to choose; you can have both the worlds – you should have both the worlds; that is your birthright.”
I’ve found myself questioning this very topic. The idea of ego, letting go of everything and allowing things to flow vs. the nature of setting goals, achievement, and trying to accomplish things in my own life. Success appears to come at the expense of letting go of our own ego; how is one supposed to succeed without some form goal or passion driving us forward? We hope to retire wealthy, we hope to do something great in this world, we hope… Osho is clear that both are equally as important in our lives. To be spiritual and free of our own ego yet understanding that to strive and achieve in the materialist world is also our birthright. Thinking back to Grant Cardone’s discussion on the 10X Rules he is very clear to state that success is our birthright. Interesting.
The question for me, the choice I’ve been looking at, suddenly doesn’t look like a difficult one. It doesn’t look like a choice at all. To want to grow a business, connect, achieve success vs. the recognition that ego is driving these decisions and consideration of how we watch our own minds and our own ego. The truth is both have a place in our lives. Grant Cardone is right and Thich Nhat Hanh is right. Osho fuses the two together with the understanding that both must become important in ones life and not at the expense of the other.
The challenge is balance. As it always is in our lives. Balance between wanting to be successful yet watching ourselves and our own egos. Not getting lost in the stories we tell ourselves and remaining present. Being mindful of how we act when success is present or when failure happens.
Reading these words yesterday reminded me that it’s not a choice about one or the other. So the camera I’d been eyeing for some time now became a reality. I packed it in my bag this morning and when I got off the train, the skies were a beautiful shade of pink reflecting off the buildings, and the rain had pooled along the streets. Mindfully walking to work the choice was easy to pull out the camera and in doing so tell a story. Keep focused on Mindful Lifter and allow the story to tell itself while also enjoying the fun of Books and Beers.