In the natural world, plants and animals are driven to live in peak condition as a matter of everyday adaptation and survival. Human beings are important members of this natural world. By birthright, we too are called to live in peak condition. We are called to cooperate with the various Earth systems and other living beings that surround us. By attaining this peak condition, we enable ourselves to make a minimal impact on the ecosystems that we inhabit, and learn to contribute to our future rather than borrowing from it. How do we fulfill our birthright?
Imagine an explorer who encounters a secluded tribe deep within a rainforest. Welcomed by villagers, he offers a lighter as a gesture of friendship. He flicks the flint-wheel and produces an instant flame, much to the astonishment of those looking on. They gaze at him as if he is a magician. There is nothing magical about his actions, of course. The villagers are simply unfamiliar with the natural phenomenon—the everyday magic—that allows him to produce his instant fire.
Much like demystifying a lighter for the villagers, by learning to understand and apply our innate capacities, we demystify many crucial phenomena that influence the unfolding of our lives. We learn to access the everyday magic within ourselves that enables us to heal illnesses, overcome our struggles, imagine grand possibilities, realize our dreams, and make this world a better place for all.
The Art & Science of Self
Many of us grow up believing that only certain among us are artists, that certain others are scientists, and that the rest are neither. This erroneous belief disconnects many of us from our true nature.
Whether you dance, draw, make music, shoot field goals, build houses, tune engines, or sit around all day watching TV, you are an artist. Your single greatest work of art is your self. The more you understand and develop your talents, the more empowered you become as an artist.
Similarly, you are a natural born scientist. You instinctively use scientific method each day in the automatic process of learning and growing. 1. You observe things.
2. You ask questions about the things you observe. 3. You develop hypotheses— possible answers to your questions. 4. You experiment, testing to see if your answers are correct. 5. You analyze the results and then start the process all over again.
The Art & Science of Connection
Art and science are innate aspects of our humanness. Not only do they enable us to consciously shape and advance our lives; they enable us to build extraordinary relationships with the people and things that surround us.
Evident in the gifts of civilization—our media, languages, technologies, businesses, governments, and so on—it is clear that we are a profoundly creative species. How might our lives be improved if we were to fully develop our creative and analytic capacities? What’s the first thing that you would set out to create for yourself, for others, or for our shared world if you knew that you had the power to do so?
We share connections with everyone and everything around us, often in ways that we do not comprehend. By developing the art and science of connection, we enable ourselves to align our efforts with the flow of greater forces that shape our lives.
Fulfilling Our Magnificence
A number of arts and sciences are innately available to us. These inner capacities enable us to maximize our effectiveness in life and love, and to share our potential magnificence with those who surround us. Consider several important examples:
Empowerment—We all have relatively similar amounts of energy available to us, yet most of us squander much of this vital energy through mental, behavioral, and biological processes that run day and night. By learning to understand our nature as energetic beings and to consciously direct the energies available to us, we learn to manage our personal power in a manner that promotes health, radiance, fulfillment, and prosperity. Equally important, we learn to minimize our impact on the Earth systems that support us.
Brilliance—Sigmund Freud once said, “What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child
and the feeble mentality of the average adult.” The improper care of intelligence yields this feeble mentality of which Freud speaks. Most of us go through all our years of schooling without ever learning about what intelligence is, or how to optimize its performance. By learning to care for our intelligence, we awaken the inherent state of brilliance that is available to each of us.
Focus—Attention is the most powerful tool with which we shape our lives. It molds our personalities and relationships. It fulfills our dreams and ambitions. The ability to focus attention enables us to exert great creative power in our ongoing personal growth.
Mindfulness—The mind is like a highly sophisticated computer. It develops programs that automatically carry out our common activities, thoughts and behaviors. Because one’s mental programs run subconsciously, without awareness, they often operate long after their usefulness has passed and tend to inhibit new aspirations that arise as we mature. Mindfulness allows us to direct our own mental programming, designing the behaviors that in turn shape our lives.
Actualization—Actualization is the art of making things happen. It enables us to see our hopes, dreams, and ambitions through to fruition, giving them actual form in our everyday lives. By learning to develop three key ingredients, intention, willpower and resource, we learn to fulfill our highest potential in a purposeful manner.
Presence—By shifting awareness away from the agendas, expectations, fears, and faulty beliefs that cloud our sights, we learn to tap life’s magnificent possibilities, opening our eyes to the abundance of gifts all around us. Presence provides direct access to a wealth of potentiality embedded in each moment. It helps to reveal the inner path to being on purpose in our lives.
Collaboration—Our lives are interwoven with those of countless people and things around us, yet many of us often feel alone.
Collaboration enables us to connect with others through our work, play and shared experiences, nourishing a profound sense of connectedness. It enables us to resolve everyday conflicts in a manner that helps all parties involved to find opportunities for personal learning and growth.
Communication—Psychiatrist Carl Jung once said, “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate to others the things that seem important to oneself.” By learning to reveal ourselves with clarity and authenticity to those in our midst, we learn to nourish closeness while strengthening the effectiveness of our relationships.
Alchemy—Most of us tend to notice the things that go wrong in life more often than we notice life’s wonders. In doing this, we inadvertently fuel a sense of anxiety, worry, or despair, obscuring the abundance of resources and opportunities available all around us. Alchemy is the art of turning the lead in our lives into gold. By recognizing and appreciating life’s many gifts, we call them to the fore of our everyday lives.
Authority—Most of us grow up believing that the authorities on every topic are people other than ourselves. This tends to disenfranchise us from the vast experience and inner knowing that might otherwise allow us to lead extraordinary lives. By claiming authority and responsibility over our own lives and circumstances, we access the freedom to drive our own destinies.
What great wonders we have available to us! Magnificence is the fulfillment of our inherent gifts and aptitudes. When we learn to optimize the great human capacities with which we are born, we find the power to lead magnificent lives. We offer the best of ourselves to our world, and nurture the same in those around us. We come to remember that we are magical beings, and that life is a playground in which we naturally seek to offer unique expressions of self to all that surrounds us.