Putting Things Together
by Michael Mamas
It’s very good and very important to learn principles. As a matter of fact, much of what I teach is just principles. Principles differ from facts in that principles are more conceptual. For example, a fact may be that you live at Number 1 Lila Lane. You can even have small children memorize that. Then, if they ever get lost and someone asks them where they live, they can say, “Number 1 Lila Lane.” The notion of a street map with addresses or the concept of maps in general is more like a principle—more conceptual, more abstract. It requires a more advanced mind to comprehend and utilize it.
It’s a much more advanced state when people can take a myriad of principles they’ve learned and become adept at putting them together wisely. Some principles even contradict one another, such as ‘safety first’ and ‘fortune favors the bold.’ ‘Safety first’ implies caution and reserve in your actions. ‘Fortune favors the bold’ implies aggressive, dynamic, courageous actions. Bringing those two principles together requires wisdom. When does boldness become foolhardiness? How can you distinguish between the two? When does ‘safety first’ become constrictive, limited thinking?
In life, a plethora of contradictory principles are always at work. It can be very difficult for people to even identify those principles. To be able to put them together, weigh them and balance them with one another, and know which-to-align-with and which-to-deemphasize is a skill that eludes many. Yet, without that skill, any action can be justified. Overemphasis of any principle at a particular moment can bring imbalance to life.
Understanding the principles is good, but it is even more important (and challenging) to be able to apply these principles to your life. People have trouble identifying what principles are at play in a given life situation. When people present their problems to me, it usually seems like I do nothing more than identify and apply the principles they already know. Invariably, they respond by saying, “Oh yeah, of course. I already know that.” However, they just didn’t see it. At the same time, they are usually embarrassed they didn’t see and apply the principle for themselves. It takes time. It’s not as easy as you may think.
Take, for example, the principle of multiple realities. It can be misused to justify any perspective: “Well, you have your reality, but I have mine.” All realities include a perspective, but not all perspectives are grounded in a reality. It is possible to be just plain wrong. Furthermore, even if a perspective corresponds to a valid reality, how that reality is weighted makes all the difference. Just because there is validity to it doesn’t mean it’s the reality best aligned within a given moment. There is no cookbook approach to determine how heavily to weight a particular reality. The art of doing that properly is called the art of discernment.
Discernment is rooted in refined feelings. Feelings are like a wave on the ocean. Once it becomes choppy, integration is lost. The finest feeling level is like a smooth flowing wave on the surface of the ocean. It has no edge, no inherent conflict. However, it is important to note that when viewed from the perspective of a choppy wave, the harmonious wave is the one that appears to be out of balance. The choppy wave thinks, “If only that harmonious wave was moving in accord with me, everything would be fine.” In the midst of conflict, working with that principle can be most challenging. You might ask, “How can I take a step back? It’s not so easy to take a step back, a step out of the self-justifying emotional loop you find yourself caught in. Yet, therein lies the art of discernment. Needless to say, understanding the principles of discernment is a far cry from living a life of discernment.
Even when people do apply the principles, they can be applied incorrectly. You can use the principles and you can misuse the principles. By misusing them, you can justify almost anything. The only way out is to find that fine fabric at the depth of your being where wisdom dwells. Working with the principles will help you do that, but it is an art that takes time to culture. Prematurely thinking that you know how to do this can keep you stuck in a self-justifying loop.
A popular saying in the marketing arena states: “You will sell more bologna than you will Porsches.” Trying to live your life without knowing the underlying principles or knowing how to put those principles together wisely is bologna. Simplistic cookbook approaches to life are little more than a handful of assorted cold-cuts: step 1, step 2, paint-by-number guidelines for life. It attempts to compartmentalize life in an assortment of brown cardboard boxes.
Life, on the other hand, has texture. It is a texture that you feel within your soul. If the physiology is not refined, the texture of the fabric you feel is woven out of the distortions, coarseness, and unwieldy loops of conditioned identity. It overshadows the sublime, finer fabric of your own inner wisdom. It’s from that finer fabric of your inner wisdom that you can feel and understand how nature’s sublime principles are put together into a unified whole.
The other day, I had a conversation regarding the term “virtuoso.” It is, of course, a term generally used in music. It refers to the artist’s ability to express the fine feeling fabric of their inner being through their musical instrument. It is one way in which the pieces of the puzzle of life come together through clarity of feeling and touch. We explored using the word “virtuoso” in a larger sense. A genius is a virtuoso in a particular field of knowledge or art. Human evolution is about becoming a virtuoso in your relationship with everything. It entails putting the principles you know together into a unified whole that is found within your own being.
I think most everyone enjoys holding a large, natural quartz crystal up to the sun and rotating it. When it’s held at just the right angle, you can see what displays of light reflect through it to expose subtle fissure lines. The beauty of the landscape of that crystal is revealed through the rotation. In so doing, a deeper appreciation for the subtle nature of that crystal evolves.
The evolution of your relationship with life is similar. As you explore life’s nature, different principles are revealed. As you rotate the crystal, you come to understand how those principles come together and interact with one another. You come to understand that holding the crystal in a particular way can reveal a critical fissure line within the structure of the crystal that otherwise goes unnoticed. You become a virtuoso at holding the crystal of your life in a manner that reveals life’s innermost secrets and displays the profound principles and wonders that guides you through the maze of your existence with wisdom, integrity, love, and care.
“Wisdom,” “integrity,” “love,” and “care” – four words, as beautiful as they are elusive. They are not found within facts, nor are they found within principles. Though, more often than not, that is how they are taught and how they are sought. In truth, they lie in the finest of life’s fabric. There they are put together, interwoven into the most exquisite melody called the song of life. Pursue that. Look past your biases, past your hurts, past your defenses to feel into the wisdom that dwells beyond the depth of your emotional heart and all the way to the very heart of your being. That is the only place wisdom, integrity, love, and care truly dwell.
You can do this. You can embark upon that path right now. Yes, it is a culturing process. Yes, it does take time to become a virtuoso. Yet, that path is a life well-lived. Reflect and ponder. Employ the principles that you have been provided. Explore it. Work with it. Pursue it. That is the means by which you learn to put it together for yourself. Otherwise, they remain fragmented principles or even worse, isolated facts upon which you attempt to build a life, a life that will ultimately reveal to you nothing more than a cardhouse.
If you would you like to be great, it’s very simple. You can begin immediately. Simply dedicate your life to what has been outlined here. Self-honesty, for some and perhaps for all, is the most challenging of all principles. Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with others. Yet, tenaciously pursue truth. It’s just that simple. It’s just that elusive.
© Michael Mamas, 10/09