Faith and belief seem to be running rampant in both the political and spiritual realms, with true believers and "people of faith" believing and having faith in conspiracy theories, sure-fire paths to enlightenment, and other unsubstantiated claims. Blind faith is an attempt at certainty in a world in which uncertainty is certain.
Regarding faith in the Buddhist tradition, "The Theravadin monk and scholar Bikkhu Bodhi said: ‘As a factor of the Buddhist path, faith (saddha) does not mean blind belief but a willingness to accept on trust certain propositions that we cannot, at our present stage of development, personally verify for ourselves.’ So, the challenge is to neither believe nor disbelieve, or attach to some "meaning," but to trust the practice and remain open to insight."
"Faith is not a belief. Faith is what is left when your beliefs have all been blown to hell. Faith is in the heart, while beliefs are in the head." Ram Dass
Self-aware living transforms experience and knowledge into wisdom and compassion. It is founded on a realistic view of how things are. It leads to optimal performance - the dynamic balance of effort, mindfulness and intelligence in every aspect of life. Self-aware living requires a willingness to lovingly confront oneself.
Making effective decisions relies on the ability to manage conflicts among the decision makers and to weave together objective facts (truth) with opinions, analysis, risk assessment, and feelings.
Cultivate a deep awareness and loving acceptance of yourself as a platform for effective living.
For most people, the goal is effective living. That means being healthy, happy, and fulfilled while earning a living, sustaining healthy relationships, and being of service, all in the face of uncertainty, change, and life’s challenges.
To live this way requires self-awareness – knowing oneself, conscious of one’s motivations, feelings, decisions, behavior and where one fits in the world. It requires the courage to accept the past and present and to act to influence the future. It requires the ability to step back and objectively observe whatever is happening both within and without.
Knowing oneself has long been the advice of the wise. Ramana Maharshi said
“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”
The ancient Greeks inscribed “Know thyself” on the Temple of Apollo. Socrates said “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Lao Tzu said "He who knows others is Wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
How to Live through self-awareness?
So how do you do it? How do you know yourself?
In my 50+ years as a meditator, yogi, management consultant, technology executive, father, life-partner and grandfather I have learned that the path to self-aware living weaves together mindfulness meditation, inquiry, and breath and body work guided by a wisdom view. And, the path is here in the material world – no need for dropping out to a cave, ashram, or monastery. The world is where we live and where we learn.
I have practiced yoga since 1972, mindfulness meditation since 1975, and Chi Kung and Tai Chi since the 1990’s. I have had the great good fortune to learn from master teachers in Eastern traditions. I have learned to get out of my head and into my heart. My work as a coach and teacher is to guide others to blend mindfulness, acceptance, and a practical wisdom perspective in a dynamic balance of self-aware living.
No matter what you are experiencing, you can learn to step back into the eye of the storm – that place within that is always calm and peaceful – and from there respond rather than react.
Being conscious of mental models, our beliefs about how things are and why they are as they are, leads to the freedom to be creatively responsive.
The world is in crisis. A crisis is an opening, a turning point, for better or worse. We can use the opening that the current health and economic crisis creates to promote a more compassionate and intelligent future. To paraphrase Hamilton, “ Let’s not throw away our shot. ”
What the Buddha might have said after meeting his four divine messengers: "Yikes! I'm going to grow old, get sick and die! I better make the best of it all and Be Happy."