This is a long one, so let’s jump right in.
1. There Are No Rules
As in—there are no rules that apply to us all. Each of us is tasked with determining a structure, code, or guide (whatever you choose to call it) to live by. This is why you’re reading this post.
It’s why you read most things, or go to see the Dalai Lama speak—this is why you go to yoga class. We’re all trying to figure out what works for us as an individual incarnation of the Great Being. Trying to apply rules that work for all people is a fantastic error, and is mostly why foreign policy (if I can get political for a moment) rarely works.
It’s hard to mandate something for a person (let alone a people) that has no idea where you’re coming from. Stop trying to bend others to your rules, and instead focus on honing your personal guide.
Why do we need to find a guide that works for us?
2. Living Your Purpose Is True Sustainability
Because in order to feel truly fulfilled, we need to connect with our purpose. Determining the workable guide helps us employ a discipline to move us towards realizing what that purpose is.
I believe we are all intrinsically connected, and yet we each maintain a particular perspective, and are born with a particular set of gifts that we must employ to activate our purpose. These gifts are our connection with the Oneness that we share as our ultimate reality—not just as human beings, but also with the nature of nature itself. Acting within this purpose - within your gifts - is the be-all of sustainability practices because acting from your purpose is to be in true harmony with life.
When you are in this space of purpose, you feel the aliveness of life, the timelessness within your actions, and sense of ease and flow—THIS IS LIVING. Anything that disrupts this flow can be considered unsustainable and you would regard it no more than if I told you to wear socks on your ears and hop on one foot.
Note: There is a distinction between acting within your gifts, and using your gifts to act within your purpose. I might have a gift for writing, but if I use that gift to write a proposal for fracking the Himalaya, I’m not utilizing that gift to its true potential—but rather for a personal or material gain.
3. It Is All About YOU
Your challenge in life is to make moves from your position. Compassion stems from this understanding. We cultivate compassion when we recognize that another person always behaves in exactly the manner dictated by the totality of their experiences. We can never know this totality, which is why we should never judge, but rather accept, certain behavior as the natural outcome of those circumstances. (More on that in a minute.)
This isn’t a call for selfishness (well maybe it is), but rather another reminder that in the end, what is inside you is what you have to work with, and you must listen to yourself always and before anything (or anyone) else.
4. Relationships Are How We See Ourselves
Why do we choose to interact with one another? For one—it’s enjoyable. Being with others is a source of joy, laughter, intrigue, intellectual and/or sexual stimulation, and on and on. Yet, the true value in relationship exists in the mirror it provides for each of us—a mirror that we hold up above us to see what’s behind, what’s hidden from view.
If relationship is approached as a method for personal awareness and growth, each relationship in our lives will endow us with valuable lessons, and many relationships will prove to run their course—making it easier to let go. This user mentality is (again) not a selfish manifesto, but with collective awareness, this recognition ultimately helps us grow closer to one another. A closeness that increases with the removal of the following:
5. Our Judgments Show Us What We Don’t See In Ourselves
Let’s be honest. We all make judgments. Even on my best days, I’m judging the hell out of everything I encounter. There is one key to becoming less judgmental—to pause within your judgment and see yourself as the thing you’re judging, and then give that self-recognition your forgiveness.
Employing this behavior helps train the mind that what you’re seeing is a projection of YOU. Getting mad at the driver next to you only shows that you’ve done the same to others. This applies to all areas of our judgment—be it of character, behavior, or the like, and not only do we need to take ownership for our judgments, but we must also let them go.
Getting into an internal good vs. bad debate only serves as a distancing agent. If your judgments are not owned and then forgiven, it only shifts the hatred rather than transform it.
6. Every Experience Counts
Learning doesn’t only happen in school, in your yoga class, at the Oprah seminar you went to last year, or when you’re done doing the “task” stuff of life. The “task” stuff—you know, washing the dishes, and dealing with the bank—is just as important.
The question is how conscious of your behavior, of your mindset, can you be in whatever it is you’re doing. One of our most misguided tendencies is to rank experiences on a scale of important to unimportant. To do so is to deny life, to say that one thing is better than the other—a road that usually leads to despair.
Make every experience count. Find the joy in everything you do.
7. Fear is Okay
Especially the kind of fear that prevents you from acting on your purpose. The fear that is spread socially and culturally (ebola virus, terrorism, big brother spying, and all the others) isn’t that useful because it isn’t based on anything relevant to you.
Ok—if a relative contracts the ebola, then your fear is real, but I’m speaking more about fears that almost feel as if they were born within us. Those fears are very relevant and must be explored if we are going to do anything of substantial value in our lives. Our fears are our main challenge in life, and again—completely relate to you and you only (though we all share common fears).
It’s time you relate to them, as this is our key to overcoming them.
8. Most Everything That’s In the Way Is In the Way Because You Say So
We are the “thing” getting in the way of our joy, of our happiness, of our purpose. You can tell yourself a thousand times over that you don’t have the money to do ___, or you have too many family commitments, or name-your-excuse. What you’re really saying is, you aren’t willing to employ your full creative self to accomplish your intention.
Surely there are extreme examples that might seem to render this philosophy obsolete, but even in those rare / extreme/ traumatizing instances, there is an opportunity specific to you for realizing self—which is essentially what any endeavor seeks to achieve at its core.
9. Oneness Is Nice to Think About, But Why Not Try and Understand Your Enemies First
I find Oneness is a nice concept, and I can definitely see it as truth, yet I am nowhere near experiencing life as a blissful ONE. The best I can do is to look at all the things in my life that doesn’t feel like ONE. Whether it’s personified enemies, or vilified behaviors (corporate environmental destruction to name ONE—no pun intended), there is a lot to cultivate compassion around before making any big strides into the Oneness of us All.
10. Love Really Is the Answer
Speaking of Oneness—how about a word regarding Love. After all, it’s kind of a big deal. So...what is love?
Love is pure openness. Openness to the perfection of the moment, openness to any and all—regardless of how different or foreign it may seem. It’s nice (and easy) to love our children, our families, our friends, and coworkers, but the world depends on us really Being Love and spreading it to everyone and everything we encounter.
It’s a mushy way to end this post, but none of what proceeded this sentence matters if we do not find the love that is our true essence. This is the key to our personal universe and the universe of our material existence.
That is everything I’ve learned and am still learning in my first 34 years. My hope beyond hopes is that it has been of some use to you. Take it or leave it, but never stop seeking until you’ve found what you’re looking for. (Was that an 11th suggestion?)