Be Productive

Pythagoras was not only behind the equation a2+b2=c2. Pythagoras’ Theorem. He was much more besides. Too much for the scope of this post.

Pythagoras said in his golden verses:
“Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids, after thy going to bed, till though has examined by thy reason all thy actions of the day. Wherein have I done amiss? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done? If in this examination thou find that thou hast done amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it. And if thou has done any good, rejoice.”
~ Pythagoras, Golden Verses.

Introspection and retrospection. Very simple but effective practices.

Introspection in the morning, upon awakening, you plan the things that you would like to get done during the day. Don’t be too far-reaching in the beginning, just set 2 or 3 simple things that you want doing or would enjoy or further you in some way; gym, study, reading, communicating etc.

Retrospection in the evenings. Look back over your day and see for yourself honestly and sincerely whether you accomplished what you set out to do. Honesty is a must in these practices, otherwise they are useless.

Before going to sleep, especially if you have something important, some aim or goal that you want to achieve. Ask yourself three questions. Maybe after re-reading Pythagoras’ quote a few times…

1. What would I like to do?
2. What did I do?
3. How did I do it?

I will be trying myself over the next few days and would love to know your thoughts on the exercise. I imagine one of two things will occur; I become super-productive very quickly, or I find it very difficult to keep to the things on my list and soon stop the experiment.

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Uncompromisingness towards your Aim

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If we are completely and firmly convinced that we can achieve a certain goal or aim, what could possibly interfere with this? If we have decided not only on the surface of ourselves, but deep within to resolve or achieve a certain aim. If we do not allow any external circumstances, people or events to distract us from our path.

What could we achieve?

I find clear examples from life that everyone can identify with are; learning a new language, and, getting in better shape. I will use these as examples to paint a picture of someone who has an uncompromising focus on their aim.

A young women wishes to learn Spanish. She knows a little but wants to buy the Rosetta Stone programme and practice at least one hour a day. On paper it would seem relatively easy. But think how many distractions there are; Work, family, social life, hobbies, eating, sleeping etc.

How much does the young women want to learn Spanish? How dedicated and uncompromising will she be toward her aim. Will she decline an invite out with friends if she hasn’t done her hour for that day? Will she avoid the comfort of the television after a hard day at work for an hours study? Will she make up any missed hours on Sunday instead of a family BBQ?

If the answer to these things were to be yes, then progress would no doubt be made. But from week to week, month to month, how many appointments for study would be missed? By seeing clearly the goal that has been set and remaining with her original plan under all circumstances, the young woman would undoubtedly have learnt Spanish in a years time (even with a few misses).

Now, to the man who wants to lose several pounds and start working out. Who has an aversion for burgers, cookies, crisps, beer, trifles, and all manner of sweet things. How badly does he want to loose the weight compared to how much he enjoys the temporary pleasure which comes from the sweet food? This is the equation for success along this path.

We all no how hard it is to eat fresh foods, to eat small portions and eat well. How hard it is to start exercising regularly, to get a routine and schedule together and to strictly enforce it.

During this battle between the ‘sweet and the healthy’, the ‘good and bad’ food he will inevitably come across obstacles. How he overcomes these difficult obstacles will be the factor towards how much weight he could lose.

The more we want a thing. The more firmly and unyielding we are towards achieving a specific aim, the more inclined we will be in taking the hard path. If we just maybe want it a little bit, but are not too sure about that. Or, if maybe I want it, but there is something else. Or its so hard to get there. This is the difference between needing success and being comfortable with failure.

This is ultimately the point of this longer than usual blog. How much do you want it? How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to get there? How hard are you willing to work when you hit the wall and times are tough?

If the answers are what they need to be to achieve your aim, it will only be a matter of time. If they fall short of the universal standard nothing can help you achieve. Not even God the creator.

The power of our uncompromisingness is considerably more effective the more we are convinced of the importance of our aim.

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The Good and Happy Man

“I say then that the good man is one who uses in a beautiful manner great things and opportunities. He likewise is able to bear well both prosperity and adversity. In beautiful and honourable circumstances also, he becomes worthy of the condition in which he is placed; and when fortune is changed, receives it in a proper manner. In short, on all occasions, he contends well from contingencies that may arise. Nor does he only thus prepare himself for whatever may happen, but likewise those who confide in and contend together with him.”

~ Archytas, Disciple of Pythagoras.

To see the good and opportune in every moment, and each circumstance we find ourselves in use as a positive. Surely this is a great way to see out our days.

Even better is to regard prosperity and adversity as equals. Not to judge any difference between them. This is the road to a happy and virtuous life!

There will always be ups and downs. Peaks and troughs. But if you see everything as necessary for your growth and development you will thrive.

Try it. For the next day or two pay attention to if a thing is good or bad. A situation is good or bad? A certain person or circumstance good or bad? Then ask why that is. It will probably be because its not how you would like it to be. You find yourself in adversity and wish you were prosperous.

Such is life. But if you can see prosperity and adversity as equal, simply karma playing out its hand. This is clarity.

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Success

The definition of success is as follows:

Noun
1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
1. The attainment of popularity or profit.

What seems to be forgotten in our present day society is the path along which success is ground out and worked towards. We look at popular figures in all walks of life and think they got there by fluke, or luck, or heredity. Some of them have, but the great majority of them worked and worked and worked for years. Constantly striving for their aim or purpose. Ceaselessly pursuing their dreams day after day after day.

To put the concept of success in a different and much better light I would like to share a quote from a ‘successful’ basketball player. The well known Michael Jordon. What he reveals with this beautiful and honest quote is what success really is. The process of chasing a dream. Chasing an aim or purpose, without any thought of results.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed!”

Keep chasing your dreams, pursuing your aims, fulfilling your purpose. Don’t worry about what others are doing. Don’t be concerned about others opinions, whose are probably someone else’s anyway.

To keep falling down again and again is what living life out of your comfort zone is all about. Just make sure you always get up after you have fallen, and let success flow into your life!

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The Mark of a Moderate Man

The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like the sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.

Nothing is impossible for him.
Because he has let go,
he can care for the people’s welfare
as a mother cares for a child.

Tao Te Ching 59

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Beauty

When pursuing any spiritual path, to better oneself, to evolve. To turn ones vices into noble virtues, there is a certain effort required. An inner effort to be aware of ones actions and how you are conducting yourself. Meditation helps the process. Of course it does! Anyone who has tried or is actively practicing Askesis will know how helpful this practice is towards perfecting oneself.

A Beautiful analogy can be found between ones evolution and journey along the spiritual path with that of sculpting a statue.

To begin we have our current state, or, a big massive boulder with which to begin sculpting. For the first years we start by attempting to hack of big lumps of rock to get it into a suitable state for later on.

Depending on our efforts this may take between 5 and 10 years before our boulder starts to look anything like a beautiful statue. Next comes the potentially even longer process of the fine tuning. Shaping and smoothing our sculpture until its finished. If we are blessed and work hard enough to get to that stage!

I have found a quote which paints this picture far better than I have. It comes from Plotinus’ Enneads, the tractate on Beauty, he says:

“But how are you to see into a virtuous Soul and know its loveliness?
Withdraw into yourself and look. And if you do not find yourself beautiful yet, act as does the creator of a statue that is to be made beautiful: he cuts away here, he smooths there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work. So do you also: cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is overcast, labour to make all one glow of beauty and never cease chiseling your statue, until there shall shine out on you from it like the godlike splendour of virtue, until you shall see the perfect goodness surely established in the stainless shrine.”

~Plotinus.

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Contentment

All living beings seem to be crying out for something or other. Among mankind some pray for wealth, some for health, some for property, some for fame, some for power, some for freedom from troubles, some for food and basic necessities during life. Moreover, all want what they ask for to be on a permanent basis; nobody wants merely a temporary cure or temporary riches. Also, we want these things in full measure, and nothing which is less than full is good enough, our object being to make ourselves full in all respects.

The scriptures belonging to every religion devote thought to the question of what among all these things is really worth praying for. If we study those scriptures accessible to us, it would seem as if all of them want Param-Atman (Universal self), because it is He only who is completely full in all respects and His fullness can never decrease. All the rest are neither full nor permanent. Thus, people really seem to be wanting the Param-Atman though they do not realise this.

When one is a child, one wants toys; when one is a boy, one wants education, when ones education is over, one wants employment; when one gets employment, one wants promotion. Thus, from the beginning to the very end, there is never contentment!

Socrates said; “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

Be contented. Even if it is a struggle to be so. Remember there are millions of others all over the world who are suffering more than you. Simply by reading this post you have some sort of device to access the internet. Others struggle from day to day for food and clean drinking water. We are all experiencing the world in our own way, and if we could find this attitude of contentment with where we find ourselves at this moment, life would be a whole lot easier..

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