When you cannot teach someone about something, that means you do not understand it. One way to understand something better is to start teaching it to people, learn from it and improve on it.
Someone (Einstein, Richard Feynman or somebody) put it well,
Contrary to that idea, to get better at anything we need to repeat it and rinse. So, instead of waiting to fully understand a subject before teaching it, one can start teaching it and the process of teaching someone clarifies things in our own head and improve our understanding of the subject.
Once you are a monk you cannot un-monk yourself. If you can, you were never a monk to begin with. If you believe that you are a “former” monk, stop kidding yourself. It seems to be a trend to spend a year or two at a monastery somewhere and come back to teach the rest of the world how enlightened you have become. May be make a buck or two and get your 5 minutes fame. Nothing wrong with that but I don’t agree that one could ever be “former” monk.
Monk is not a job title. It is a state of mind. Being a monk is not like being a president or a store owner. Once you truly acquire that state of mind, how is it possible to go back?
Thoughts are the root of everything we experience in our life. So why do we entertain bad thoughts if we know that bad thoughts are bad for us and good thoughts are good for us?
Mind, like a farmland, needs to be plowed, weeded of bad thoughts to get the crop of Ananda (Joy). It takes no effort to let weeds grow in the garden, it takes no effort to let bad thoughts grow in our mind. It takes a lot of deliberate practice and effort to remove the weeds and fertilize the flowers and plants.
We reap what we sow, we cannot sow an orange seed and expect to reap a papaya. We reap good life by sowing good thoughts, so why not go ahead do it? Someone rightly said, everyone wants to be rich but not everyone wants to work for it. We all want joy and happiness and peace but not all of us want to work for it.
I recently found this interesting book by James Allen, mentioned by Les Brown in one of his talks, you can read it for free on Google Books here, enjoy the good thoughts 🙂
“A human being,” wrote Einstein in reply, “is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
This was published in NY Times in 1972 https://www.nytimes.com/1972/03/29/archives/the-einstein-papers-a-man-of-many-parts-the-einstein-papers-man-of.html
The Prophet Mohammed said, “There is no better companion on this way than what you do. Your actions will be your best friend, or if you’re cruel and selfish, your actions will be a poisonous snake that lives in your grave.” –Rumi
Thinking is the opposite of acting, so if you are not acting you are thinking and if you are thinking too much and acting too little, you are going to have a massive cognitive dissonance and that dissonance can only mean one thing, your mind will work hard to match your actions with your thinking or your thinking to your actions. Unfortunately, matching your thinking to your actions is the path of least resistance and so mind will lead your thinking to closer to your actions and that is simply a race to the bottom.
I’d say you don’t rise to the level of your thinking, you fall to the level of your actions. You can think all the greatest ideas and ideals in this world but they are not going to transform you, what will transform you and make you a better person is when you act on a few of those dreams, ideas, ideals!
English translation of the above Sanskrit Subhashita by Prof. S.B. Raghunathacharya, former Vice-Chancellor R.S. Vidyapeet, Tirupati is as follows
Sage Valmiki is explaining the greatness of patience to mankind through Dakshaprajapathi.
Either to man or woman, patience is really a precious ornament. In fact patience is real donation, that is sacrifice, that is truth, that is fame, that is virtue. Indeed the society should take shape in patience only.
Always patience will be sole wealth of noble people.
The society has been taking lessons from them time to time, one must enrich this quality for his own sake and for the sake of a good society.
Buridan’s Ass (Buridan’s Principle) named after the 14th century French Philosopher Jean Buridan. The principle is “an ass placed equidistant between two bales of hay must starve to death because it has no reason to choose one bale over the other“
I am reminded of the “Don’t be a donkey” story that I heard Derek Sivers narrate. The story goes, a donkey is stuck in the middle of the road trying to decide to go left and eat the hay pile 1 or go right and eat the hay pile 2, both equally attractive choices. In trying to decide, the donkey wastes all his time and dies with hunger. If only he realized that he could have very well first had hay pile 1 and then hay pile 2 or vice-versa, he would be alive and kicking!
https://sive.rs/donkey Thanks Derek, wise words. I heard you talk about this years ago but only “decided” to apply it in my startup journey today 🙂
“Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces—to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it—and makes it burn still higher.”
I don’t know why it took so long for this book to come to me, recently heard of this masterpiece on life and living by Gibran Kahlil Gibran on a couple of podcasts and went to look for it on Google. Luckily, this book is available for free reading on the Internet Archive, this gem of a book was in plain sight but never crossed my radar, how sad. I believe it’s one of the finest books that I have read and very simple yet ridiculously profound.
More people should read this book, however young or old you are, doesn’t matter. I hope that by mentioning it here, the book gets on the radar of at least one other person in this world, if not, that’s cool too!
“When Love beckons to you, follow him even though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings unfold, you yield to him
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you
And when he speaks to you believe him
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses the tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth
He threshes you to make you naked
He sifts you to free you from your husks
He grinds you to whiteness
He kneads you until you are pliant
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.”