With clarity make a choice, then put it into practice.
Develop your ability to feel what is going on within you
and let that be your foundation in life.
Believing is a bit like standing in a line where you never quite get to the counter. There are lots of other people in the line and everybody is waiting for something special to happen when they finally get to the front. Waiting for someone special to appear and solve their problems.
You are the most qualified person to solve your problems. If you can start to see clearly, make good choices and turn those choices into actions, you will have no need to believe in something that may or may not actually happen.
In life we must make choices. Even when we find ourselves in desperate situations, we still have to make choices. Some- times that can be hard, but each one of us has a source of great strength within. When we don’t know of that strength, we search for someone to help us. But there is no need to search outside, when you have an incredible strength within. All you need to do is to connect with it.
I have seen people at rock bottom, in the most difficult circumstances you can imagine. I go to prisons and speak to people who have no chance of ever leaving those confines. No privacy. Always a threat of violence in the air. Dire circumstances. Yet I have seen those same people find a strength within themselves and begin to shine. Not a fantasy, not a nice idea, but in reality.
Make use of your strength, make use of your sincerity and get to know the real you, the inner self. Then, with that strong foundation, make choices and start to practically apply that which you have chosen.
The two ants
One day two ants happened to cross paths.
One ant lived on a sugar hill and one on a salt hill.
‘I haven’t seen you around here before, where are you from?’ said the salt ant.
‘I live on a sugar hill,’ replied the sugar ant.
‘Sugar hill? What’s sugar?’ inquired the salt ant.
‘Sugar is delicious and sweet. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Are you sure you’ve never eaten sugar before?’
‘All we have around here is salt. You can eat it, but it makes you very thirsty. I like the sound of this sugar you speak of.’
‘Well then, come and visit my sugar hill and see for yourself how good it tastes.’
The two ants set a date and decided to meet at the sugar hill.
The sugar ant gave directions how to get there.
As the day of the visit approached, the salt ant started to think, ‘Hmmm, what if I don’t like the sugar? I would have travelled such a long way and I’ll be hungry. Just in case, I’ll take some salt with me in my mouth.’
At the sugar hill, the sugar ant was waiting to greet the salt ant.
‘Welcome to my sugar hill. Here, try some sugar and see how good it tastes.’
The salt ant put some sugar in its mouth. ‘Hmmm, this tastes just like my salt,’ he said.
Puzzled by his response, the sugar ant said, ‘Are you sure? Sugar and salt taste very different, you know. Try some more.’
The salt ant put more sugar in his mouth and after a moment said,
‘Yep, this is the same taste as my salt. Around here you call it sugar, but where I live we call it salt. It’s the same thing.’
The sugar ant knew that salt and sugar tasted different, so he knew something was wrong. He thought for a while and then said, ‘Open your mouth so I can see what’s in there.’
When the salt ant opened his mouth, sure enough there was a big lump of salt.
‘There is the problem. Take out that salt and then taste the sugar,’ said the sugar ant.
The salt ant took out the lump of salt and tasted the sugar.
He finally got to taste the sweetness. ‘Wow, this is incredible! So sweet. I am never going back to my salt hill,’ he said.
In life we have to leave one step behind in order to take the next. Success is built on our ability to evolve, to learn and to grow. To evolve, we must take along what’s good, and leave behind what isn’t needed.
The more we can do this, the more successful we will be. This story also shows how, at times, we are our own worst enemy. We have a tendency not to accept things as they are and to see everything through our own filters.
Some people ask me, ‘Do I even have a choice? Isn’t all this determined by the movements of the stars?’ As if the cards have already been dealt and you are not the one making the decisions.
The answer I give is, ‘No, it is not the stars.’ Our own confusion is what leads to bad choices, and that is what creates most of our problems. When we can let go of our ideas about how things should be, we can start to see things as they are. Then we have the full range of choice.
When we can start to make conscious choices, it is like a lamp being lit.
When a lamp is lit, no matter how small that lamp, we can see things we couldn’t see in the darkness. Making conscious choices becomes your strength, your own lamp that gets rid of darkness.
The world is full of problems, yet there is also a lot of joy. There may be a thick layer of grey cloud, but just above that cloud is a magnificent, clear blue sky and the sun is shining. The question is, where do you want to be? It is your choice.
The learned parrots
There was a man who loved to raise parrots. One day he decided he would raise the most learned parrots, so he went and bought two parrot eggs. He kept them in a warm place and they hatched into chicks. As he took care of them he began to teach them everything he knew. He taught them science and history, and played music for them. As they grew they went on to learn more and more complex things and by the time they were adults they had learnt a lot. They could recite Beethoven’s symphonies perfectly. They had memorised Newton’s laws of physics and all kinds of complex formulas.
One day the man passed away, leaving the two parrots alone in the house.
When the relatives came to tidy up the man’s belongings, they found the parrots. Nobody wanted to take care of them, so they put the cage by the window and opened the door. The two learned parrots hopped out onto the branch of a tree just outside the window. They climbed up to the higher branch where a wild parrot was sitting, and they struck up a conversation.
‘Uh, we are very learned parrots. We know about science and literature and music,’ they said.
The wild parrot was clearly impressed, so they continued to show off their talents, reciting poems and formulas.
As this continued, the wild parrot began to look at the learned parrots with awe. They had learnt so much while he knew so little.
While the learned parrots were reciting a symphony, out of the corner of his eye the wild parrot noticed a cat at the bottom of the tree. It had seen them and was starting to climb up the trunk. The wild parrot asked the two learned parrots, ‘Uh, do you know how to fly?’
‘Oh, of course we do. The air pressure below the wing is greater than the pressure above. This allows us to fly,’ they said.
‘No, no, not the theory. I mean can you actually fly?’ said the wild parrot.
‘No. But we know so much. Surely not knowing that one little thing doesn’t matter,’ replied the two parrots.
The wild parrot stretched out his wings and took off from the branch. As he did, he said to the two learned parrots, ‘You are really learned, but the one thing you really need to know, you don’t. Good luck.’
Remember when you were learning to ride a bicycle?
‘Pedal, pedal, pedal, look straight ahead and keep your balance.’ Someone who was trying to teach you probably gave you this advice, but even if you remembered it, the result was always a fall. Again and again you fell. Then one day, you got it. You felt the point of balance. Once you feel that balance you know how to ride a bicycle with or without the formula.
The story of the parrots and the example of the bicycle show the difference between academic information and practical knowledge. In the age we live in, information abounds. More people have graduated from universities than ever before. Yet this has not helped us solve the global issues we face. Things just seem to get more and more complex and problematic.
Information is important, but for the essential things in life, you need to know. You need to feel, to make it real for you, so that you can practically apply it in your life.
Growth is like being on a large sailboat. You start off on the dock and from there you can see a certain amount. If you climb up the rigging a little, you can see that much more. Then, if you go a little higher, you can see further still. If you keep climbing, you will get to the crow’s nest right at very the top, and from there you can see everything around the boat and for quite a long way. Growth is not a process of creating new scenery, it is a process in which you get to see things clearly, to see things as they are.