My writing mentor Rob had a pension for passing along his favorite books. I’d show up for weekly writing meetings, and more often than not he’d present me with one wrapped in beautiful paper.
Sometimes the books were brand new. Other times they were used classics that he’d pull from his own collection (I liked those the most).
Inside each cover, he’d write a note in his clean, clear script (ALL-CAPS, of course).
JUNE 25, 2014
HERE IS A CLASSIC ADVAITA TEXT BY ONE OF THE GREAT SPIRITUAL TEACHERS, THE TOBACCO VENDOR BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD TURNED SPIRITUAL GENIUS!
I recently opened this particular book and randomly turned to a page that read:
“Absolute perfection is here and now, not in some future, near or far. The secret is in action — here and now. It is your behavior that blinds you to yourself. Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect — whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage.”
“All you need you have. Use it. Behave as best you know, do what you think you should. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them, only intentions matter. The shape things take is not within your power; the motives of your actions are.”
We use to talk about this a lot, Rob and I. How we human beings are such pros at clouding up our worlds with our complicated brains.
“Jen, everything is perfect,” he’d reiterate time and time again. “It’s all a choice. you just have to surrender. Your life is as simple as you make it.”
I’ve thought long and hard about Rob’s definition of surrender.
He defined it as allowing the heart to be your guide, rather than letting the ego run the show. “It’s about the heart consciousness,” he explained. “Everything good in this world comes from the heart. Of course you need your brain to function, but the with the heart as guide, the mind can make sound and just decisions. Heartfelt decisions make the world better for everyone.”
I think back to when I was a little girl running barefoot and free. I’d climb trees, play imaginary baseball games, skateboard, create products and sell them to our neighbors. I let my imagination run wild. More often than not I’d sit in school and count down the minutes until I could return to adventures at home.
In those days, I’d end up with all sorts of scratches and battle wounds. A skateboarding adventure would leave me with bloody knees. A tree climbing expedition left a long scar on my left wrist. I tried to rescue a cat from its apparent homelessness and it scratched my ear into oblivion. I brought home a stray dog that I claimed as my own, and my parents about fell over when they saw it was covered in mange.
While sometimes my adventures were painful, they were magnificent and worth every moment. The view from the tree was worth the scratch, the thrill of flying down a hill on four wheels made the bloody knee a prized battle wound, and hugging that homeless cat for a few moments made my day. Not to mention the numerous doors closed in my face during my sales efforts, made the single dollar I earned from one willing client a prize.
In the case of the dog that I found, my Dad’s first impulse was to head to the pound. But I fought with everything I had in my 7-year-old being to keep her. I made it clear that I wanted to protect and love her. I had been pleading for a pup for so long. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer this time.
Dad saw my passion and it caught his attention.
He decided to work with me. So we headed to the vet and got some horrible smelling medication. Each day we’d combine it with water and scrub the pup down. As result of our efforts, she got better and better — and loved me for it. Ruffles became my confidant and friend. Everywhere I went she’d follow.
I saved her — she saved me. It was an affair of the heart.
“Only good things come from the heart,” said Rob.
“All you need is courage,” said the tobacco vendor turned spiritual genius.
If Rob were alive today, I think he’d tell me that it all begins now. Forget the past… let go of your hurts and fears. Begin living from the heart in this second. Keep it simple. Tap into the child within (it still exists) and be authentically you. Don’t let the world make you into a scared, inspirationless adult. Don’t be idle.
When faced with a tough moment, take a deep breath and make every effort to see things from a heartfelt perspective. This doesn’t mean not standing up for ourselves and having healthy boundaries, but we must understand our motives.
For “only intentions matter” in the end.