Real Self

Self-respect should dominate every expression of the individual, from the mere matter of personal appearance and dress to the most supreme manifestation of his real self in all the relations of life. It has greater reverence for its individuality, rightly directed, than for all its rights, powers, influence, or possessions. Self-respect, in the highest sense, is the honest pride of trusteeship over self, not the petty vanity of proprietorship.” ~ William George Jordan

The core of your individuality is not something you manufacture, it is something that you are. No matter what you do to to carve out a life for yourself, to create an identity, to be something in the world, you will always be courted by your inner self, the true you.

You do not own life, neither can you lose it. Life is eternal, though the forms it animates come and go like the leaves on a mighty oak tree. Or like the tree itself. Thinking you own life, whether it be yours or that of another, is evidence of small-mindedness, short-sightedness and blasphemy.

You are never larger than life, but you can be large in your living.

 

Living in an Air Castle VII

The air-castle typifies any delusion or folly that makes man forsake real living for an idle, vague existence. Living in air-castles means that a man sees life in a wrong perspective. He permits his lower self to dominate his higher self; he who should tower as a mighty conqueror over the human weakness, sin and folly that threaten to destroy his better nature, binds upon his won wrists the manacles of habit that hold him a slave. He loses the crown of his kingship because he sells his royal birthright for temporary ease and comfort and the showy things of the world, sacrificing so much that is best in him for mere wealth success, position, or the plaudits of the world. He forsakes the throne of individuality for the air-castle of delusion.” ~ William George Jordan

Whether you see your royal birthright as the result of millions of years of evolution or divine decree, the fact of the matter is that you have an opportunity to have dominion over the world you center. Dominion is the by-product of the expression of your natural authority into the earth. Domination, on the other hand is a cheap imitation based in the notion that might makes right and sustained by the idea that forced compliance is superior to inspired agreement.

My company, The Spa on Green Street, sponsored a “Petpalooza” yesterday afternoon. The Humane Society brought a number of puppies for adoption and a local dog trainer set up an agility course to demonstrate their agility and manners programs. It is always fascinating to watch people interacting with puppies, as I’ve noticed that the way people work with puppies reveals very quickly what method they prefer to bring order out of chaos in their worlds: dominion or domination.

Those who elect to dominate their worlds typically emphasize visible force. Corrections are harsh, sharp and unforgiving and such people rule with an iron fist, as a dictator would in a repressive political regime. They govern the world around them from the throne of their lower self, preferring “push” techniques to “pull” strategies. Their subjection to their lower selves makes them mistrustful of their higher selves, and they fear if they let go of their white-knuckled grip they have on that which they control they will lose control. And they’re probably right based on the way they’ve built their kingdom.

Those who rise to the occasion and discover how to extend dominion take the opposite approach. They rule from the throne of their higher selves, and their control extends from within outward, and is usually invisible to the eye. They understand that forced compliance may appear to work in the short-term, but that it unravels the instant the aggressor turns his back on those who have submitted to his rule. Their empathy allows them to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of agreement and cooperation and their perfect patience affords them the perspective to know when to act and when to wait.

Dominion springs from love, while domination grows in the shadows wherever love has been withdrawn. Some dominate out of fear, others out of greed, but most dominate out of a laziness, a simple but devastating unwillingness to do the work required to refine their character and disposition to the point that nothing but the higher self is allowed expression.

The higher can and will permeate the lower if your let it. In many cases, simply letting go of the lower, more base elements in your expression is sufficient to turn the tide in your living. Stopping to do what you know you shouldn’t makes room in your heart and mind for the noble expression to come through. The kingdom governed by your higher self is at hand, immediately available to you should you choose to incline your heart to it.

Real living only happens when your higher self rules. The trouble with most people is that they know this, but they’re afraid to let go of the petty control struggles they’ve won over the years in an effort to claw their way out of the darkness and chaos that overshadow so much of the world around them. Just as a hot air balloon operator understands that he must throw out ballast to ascend, you too must be willing to let go of the baggage – with no strings attached – to rise up in your living.

So where is it best to start? Much of this release is done using forgiveness, of others and of yourself, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to be dogged about obeying the compulsions which emanate from your higher self. Further, complaint, blame and martyrdom are utterly foreign to your higher self, so any shade of any one of those must be avoided like the plague.

If you’ve been subject to the petty tyrant who rules your lower self, have no fear. He has no real power and no natural authority. The only power he possesses has been stolen from your higher self. Stop bowing to his wishes, mindlessly following out his commands and believing his nonsense and you will be well on your way in the demolition of any air-castles you may have built for yourself over the years. There is no shame in this, in fact, this is the best way to take the legs out from under the patterns of shame that are keeping you from putting your royal birthright to use.

Facing the Mistakes of Life VII

We cannot relive our old mistakes, but we can make them the means of future immunity from the folly that caused them. If we were impatient yesterday, it should inspire us to be patient today. Yesterday’s anger may be the seed of today’s sweetness. Today’s kindness should be the form assumed by our regret at yesterday’s cruelty. Our unfairness to one may open our eyes to the possibility of greater fairness to hundreds. Injustice to one that may seem to have cost us much may really have cost us little if it makes us more kind, tender and thoughtful for long years.” William George Jordan

I’ve known some people who used the idea that mistakes provide lessons for our tomorrows as an excuse for not giving their highest and finest now. “There’s always tomorrow,” they say, believing that so saying gives them permission to slip up with impunity. Thank goodness that the phoenix can rise form the ashes, but that should only be the approach of last resort and never Plan A!

There must be sufficient momentum to sustain progress individually and collectively. If you, for instance, go through a day where your thoughts, words and deeds only hit the mark in 10 percent of the cases, the resultant drag will likely grind your life’s momentum to a halt if you’re not careful in the days to come. If, on the other hand, you maintain your crown of individuality and as a result, your integrity, dignity and poise, you are more likely to hit the mark, say, 75-95 percent of the time. This has the dual effect of reducing drag and increasing thrust.

Navigating the world we’ve created for ourselves, which is essentially the culmination of eons of free choice and other lesser-known causal factors, is akin to flying. If your airship is well-built, has structural integrity and is free of maintenance squawks, you’ll likely do well, regardless of the occasional turbulence. If, however, you’ve put off the maintenance, disregarded the growing rust on your wing spars and failed to make the adjustments necessary to keep your craft in top shape, the slightest bobble in the air will be sufficient to produce knots in your stomach.

There is mercy in the fact that – up to a certain point – we can learn from our mistakes and move on. Let that not be an excuse for subpar function, in fact, don’t just shoot for average. Go for the gold! The more refined your function, the more aligned your body, mind and heart, the less corrections you will need to make and what’s more, the slight adjustments you’ll need to make to your course will become almost imperceptible to others!

It is true in sports, it is the case in relationships and this principle works out in every other department of life. Just watch those who excel and you will see it in action. Learn to cooperate with it and I can assure you that your life will be a thousand times easier, more productive and less stressful!

The Crown of Individuality VIII

Let us have that great pride in our individuality that would scorn to let petty pique or vanity keep us from doing what we know is right. Wear the robes of your royal pride in such kingly fashion that it would seem no sacrifice to stoop to brush off that which might stain them.

Let us make this life of ours a joy to ourselves and a tower of strength to others. Then shall we have made this life a success, no matter what its results. We shall have made character—and character is real life. The truest success is not the one the world often holds highest—that which is rung up on a cash-register. The truest success is a strong nature, living at a high but steady moral pressure, and radiating love, kindness, sympathy, strength, tenderness and joy to others.” ~ William George Jordan

I imagine that it would be easy to dismiss this advice given some 100 years ago by a relatively unknown American editor and essayist as being wishful thinking or impractical idealism. It is easy to miss the important things in life when you’re caught up in the rat race, but I trust that if you are reading this you are not a rat.

You, dear reader, are endowed with self-awareness, intelligence and creativity. You may have your ups and downs, but at the end of the day (and every part of it for that matter) your sentience and capacity for reason can and should be used to reposition your crown of individuality and prepare you for the challenges that are sure to come in your tomorrows.

Take a few moments to write down how you define success in life for yourself. It’s not as easy as you might think, but the exercise is well worth the effort. Once you’ve defined it, you then have something against which you can square your every thought, word and deed.

The Crown of Individuality II

The world needs more individuality in its men and women. It needs them with the joy of individual freedom in their minds, the fresh blood of honest purpose in their hearts, and the courage of truth in their souls. It needs more people daring to think their own highest thoughts and strong vibrant voices to speak them, not human phonographs mechanically giving forth what someone else has talked into them. The world needs men and women led by the light of truth alone, and as powerless to suppress their highest convictions as Vesuvius to restrain its living fire.

They have the glad inspiring consciousness that they are not mere units on the census list, not weak victims of their own impulses, not human bricks baked into deadly uniformity by conventionality, but themselves—individuals. They are not faint carbon copies of others but strong, bold-print originals,—of themselves. They are ever lights not reflections, voices not echoes. “~ William George Jordan, “The Crown of Individuality”

I wish there were a way for everyone on earth to have a chance to have at least a few experiences outside of the influence of their immediate and extended family, as well as their country. Such times in my adolescence and early adulthood were among the most formative in terms of my present worldview and sense of self.

Cultural, familial and societal imprints and overlays are wonderful in the sense that they ensure a certain measure of continuity, but they are often stifling to the revelation of the individual’s unique pattern of self-expression. Whenever the compulsion to belong overshadows or outweighs the concern to be true to oneself and ultimately to the truth, the individual expression suffers.

This is part of the challenge educators face, as the methods for creating ideal citizens or productive workers frequently short-circuit the individual, separating his true and unique inner self from his outer expression. Rather than magnifying what is already present within the individual, educational systems run the risk of producing “human phonographs” capable of spouting the necessary facts and figures at the appropriate time.

But what of original thought? Is it encouraged? How can we draw it forth more effectively in our schools, churches and family rooms? As a parent of two young boys who will eventually be faced with the responsibility of navigating the world and all of its twists and turns, I am constantly asking myself what I can do to prepare them to meet the unique and increasingly complex challenges of modern living. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to the matter of individuality, so creativity, imagination and the ability to listen are vital on the part of our parents, caregivers, teachers and leaders!

I look forward to your thoughts…

The Crown of Individuality I

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to turn your assets into liabilities. This happens in many ways, such as when a wealthy person becomes bound by his fear of loss, or when a person of advancing age curses his years rather than celebrating his maturity. One of the most devastating forms of this disease, however, manifests when a person becomes subject to rather than master of his greatest internal assets, namely, his thoughts and feelings.

Ask most people, especially those raised under the American ideal, if they are individuals and they will answer strongly in the affirmative. Examine their thoughts, actions and tendencies, however, and a picture of conformity, uniformity if not homogeneity emerges on the canvas of their lives.

Individuality rests on two principles: the first, original thought and the second, self-directed action. True individuality is the expression of your inner greatness. It is the manifestation in form of your highest and finest self in relation to the circumstances at hand. You needn’t wait for the perfect arrangement of circumstance, for there is a perfect expression in relation to any circumstance, however configured.

Individual living requires that you be true to yourself. If you are true to yourself then you can be true with others beyond yourself.

The supreme courage of life is the courage of the soul. It is living, day by day, sincerely, steadfastly, serenely,—despite all opinions, all obstacles, all opposition. It means the wine of inspiration for ourselves and others that comes from the crushed grapes of our sorrows. This courage makes the simplest life, great; it makes the greatest life—sublime. It means the royal dignity of fine individual living.

Every man reigns a king over the kingdom of—self. He wears the crown of individuality that no hands but his own can ever remove. He should not only reign, but—rule. His individuality is his true self, his best self, his highest self, his self victorious. His thoughts, his words, his acts, his feelings, his aims and his powers are his—subjects. With gentle, firm strength he must command them or, they will finally take from his feeble fingers the reins of government and rule in his stead. Man must first be true to himself or he will be false to all the world.” ~ William George Jordan, “The Crown of Individuality”