Three words that can answer most of life’s questions
To believe you are unique is a surefire way of living a mediocre life. While you go around believing that your duties are individual and your problems exclusive, opportunities and solutions are slipping out of your reach. The first step on the path to consciousness is the ability to recognize the oneness of existence in all its diverse forms, where you are not just a witness on the other side of a window, but are a part of the overall flow of vibrations, no different in essence from anything else.
Long ago I came to realize that there cannot be a single problem I am facing that has not affected someone else before. Somewhere there are people who have already dealt with similar problems and lived to tell the tale. Better to use their experience, adapting it to my circumstances, than to reinvent the wheel each time. After all, the point of life is to cruise along its open highways, not to spend your whole time tinkering around with tools and never leaving the garage.
I seek advice from books, films, first-hand or second-hand stories. The bud bursting in spring tells of the essence of eternal change, the singing bird on the windowsill tells of the divine purpose of all things, the bright sun tells of the power of the energy all around us, which can be used to create as well as destroy. A passerby may teach you of the sacred freedom of choice that is always at our disposal.
One of the most important pieces of advice I have come across is from Herman Hesse. In the book “Siddartha” he achieved stunning simplicity and depth, and explained how he managed his life in three words.
Each of these three words can answer with razor-sharp exactness all the constant questions of “How?”:
- How do I get my life on track?
- How do I change for the better?
- How can I feel good?
- How do I expand my inner world?
- How do I maintain good relationships with those around me?
- How do I achieve my goals?
- How can I find ultimate happiness?
Each of these three words can become like a prayer, and never again will you let the steering wheel of conscious change slip from your hands:
THINK. WAIT. FAST.
The book tells the story of the son of a Brahmin called Siddartha who leaves his home in search of knowledge and wisdom. During all of his spiritual adventures he masters three life skills:
“You must do what you’ve learned and ask for money, clothes, and shoes in return. There is no other way for a poor man to obtain money. What might you be able to do?”
“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”
“Nothing. But yes, I can also write poetry. Would you like to give me a kiss for a poem?”
Look, Kamala: When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a resolution. Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts, but he passes through the things of the world like a rock through water, without doing anything, without stirring; he is drawn, he lets himself fall. His goal attracts him, because he doesn’t let anything enter his soul which might oppose the goal. This is what Siddhartha has learned among the Samanas. This is what fools call magic and which they think would be effected by means of the daemons. Nothing is effected by daemons, there are no daemons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.
“Siddartha” Herman Hesse
THINK. WAIT. FAST in modern parlance:
THINKING means actively pointing your stream of thoughts in one desired direction. Your level of mastery of this ability is directly proportional to its impact on the world around you. In other words, someone who is in a position to control their thoughts can steer the course of their life changes. Until you reach this point things just happen to you, rather than you making them happen.
As inside – so outside.
If you have a cacophony of fragmented desires, fear and reactions inside you, influenced by the people around you, then the outside result will match accordingly. No surprise there.
The only things you must allow in your mind are those that please you, and not some sort of disjointed thought salad. You can achieve this with the help of affirmations: create defined thoughts and repeat them every time you are able or remember to. At first it feels strange. New thoughts, like foreign bodies, interfere with your life, but with time this practice develops into a habit. And thinking in the ways you want becomes easy and normal. And from here you should be able to achieve whatever you are trying to master.
WAITING is the axis of the entire structure. At first you must begin by doing (a little about this below), but as time goes on you will have to master a harder skill: the ability to wait and not lose focus on your goal. WAIT AND DON’T WAVER – this is the best definition of what is meant. Give your seeds time to grow. This is where a lot of business people get burned, because they are used to fast, dynamic reactions to everything. Decide and start doing – it could not be simpler. As soon as a person discovers this ability, there is no stopping them. But you will find there is another side to “doing” that must be mastered if you want to keep progressing: the ability to focus on not-doing. To set intentions and wait.
I do not mean a powerless “come what may” sort of waiting, but entirely active and sober non-action, letting events unfold, not letting “anything enter [your] soul which might oppose the goal.” It is difficult. Healthy waiting, not giving into doubts or anxieties, learning to “wait, without expecting”, is an art.
FASTING means excluding from your diet things that dull the sharpness of the mind. This means foremost alcohol, fast food, baked goods and meat (a very detailed overview of nutrition can be found here). And also to limit your food intake and not overeat. Now we are not even talking about health of the physical body as such (though this is always necessary for your harmony), but specifically about the ability to think clearly and harness your strengths, because without this ability it is difficult to talk about controlling your thoughts, let alone being able to wait without fears and doubts about “how things should be”.
THINK. WAIT. FAST.
This phrase came to me a few years ago and had a profound impact. But only now do I understand what it means to WAIT and why it is necessary. The fact is that this formula will only work properly after one important stage known as: DOING.
I would even say that for the modern person the three words at the beginning of conscious changes would sound more like:
THINK. DO. FAST.
The “doing” phase (i.e. when the person begins to unite their intention with direct action) is the easiest one; all it takes is a resolute decision of: “Screw it, let’s do it!” Only then, when the first frontier is breached, do the words of Hesse take on new meaning.
To learn to wait without suffering in your heart or feeling like you’re going nowhere, to wait without fear that nothing will come of it, to wait without anxiety about whether you made the right decision. To wait in absolute confidence that once you have made your decision, there is no other possible outcome, even when you feel like running away and doing something else right this moment, you take a step back, because in this situation waiting is effective. That is a true skill.
WAIT is my mantra of the day.