“Young man seize every moment of your time, the days fly by, ere long too you shall grow old, if you believe me not, see here in the courtyard how the frost glitters white and cold and cruel on the grass that once was green.”
— Zen poem
As those of you who follow my regular articles here will know, I am a voracious self-investor: I spend an inordinate amount of time and money on self-development (if I don’t invest in me who will?!).
I am especially fond of buying and reading the Great Works: The Vedas – The Upanishads being my favourite section, The Tao Te Ching (read it probably twenty times), The Torah (first five books of the Old Testament), The New Testament, the Guru-Granth Sahib and the Bhagavad-Gita (to name but a few).
I am currently making my way through a particularly beautiful translation of the Holy Qur’an. As with all of the bibles, it is heavy going. Not because the book is made difficult to read, rather because it is so rich in content that you are almost forced to pace yourself. There is no filler in these books, and – if you are not ready for them – they can be very jarring.
Yesterday, I read nearly five hundred pages in two sittings (see here on how to read more books). I am hungry to grow my being, and this book, so far, has been pure protein to my spiritual sinews. One of the most inspiring verses for me is on the subject of striving. It says:
God favours those that strive, he favours not those who do not strive.
This might seem, at first glance, to be little more than a throwaway line, but for me it was a true revelation.
What it is actually saying is that God, Allah, The Universe, The Akashic felid, the Collective Unconscious awaits your command. You, my friend, are at the helm, you are the driver — the steering of the wheel in this brief span of incarnation is your responsibility. How very exciting!
If you strive, God will favour you. If you sit on your arse and do nothing, God will not favour you. The more you strive, the more you are favoured, the less you strive, the less you are favoured.
In the New Testament the parable of the talents concurs.
Those that have, are given more; those that have not, it is taken away from them.
Your fortune is determined by your actions.
What both divine prophets Jesus Christ and Mohammed are offering us is the secret to the universe. Strive and make good. Don’t strive and be afraid. Be terrified, because all too soon you will be at the end of your allotted time (and that could be another seventy years or another seven seconds).
One day we are going to get a life review, and we will ask ourselves, “did I do enough?”
Knowing that the opportunities we were scared to take, were all there to take – for me, for you, or for anyone else that had the courage to take them – did we do enough?
The Four Questions
Deeper into the belly of the Holy Qur’an the Fifth Holy Imam Muhammad Ibne Baquir Ali Al –Baquir says that on the Day Of Judgment none shall take even a single step but after answering the following four questions:
I found these four questions both exhilarating and challenging.
Exhilarating because they gave me the opportunity here, now, in the middle days of my unfolding life to take stock, to assess, to ask myself, “Am I living enough? Am I asking enough of my bodily vehicle? Am I earning my potential and are my earnings honest? Am I using my earnings to expand myself, and in doing so expand everyone around me or am I hiding my ‘rainy-day’ money under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of poverty?”
It also challenged me because I was starkly reminded that soon my time will be gone, and I don’t want to look back and see only the opportunities that I missed for fear of making a mistake, for fear of being uncomfortable or simply for fear of fear itself.
My time is precious like diamonds, and all too soon it will return to dust.
How many of us really take this magnificent machine (our body and mind) out for a track day and see what it is really capable of?
Gurdjieff, for instance, was so prolific in his self-development and work that he was able to keep a whole commune on his sole wage. He believed that each man had the innate ability to earn enough money for the upkeep of 35 adults. Most people stay so comfortable in their body and mind that they struggle with the upkeep even of themselves, and then blame (as we have all blamed) the economy, the government or God for our lack.
And this is not just about working our allotted hours in physical labour, many people do that and still fail to grow, you cannot mistake simple hard work for spiritual progress. It is more about continually challenging ourselves, physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, socially, morally, ethically, spiritually. It is about expanding our being so much, through personal striving, that our intellect becomes mature enough to collect and process the great spiritual insights waiting for anyone who is prepared to break through the bonds of their fear-guard.
This means seeking out discomfort NOW, wherever you can find it. If it is sitting at the other end of the world what are you waiting for? Travel to it, marinate in it. If you think it can’t be done, you are wrong. Others are already doing it, and they are not different from you.
The greater the demand placed on you, the greater the rewards.
And everyone’s discomfort is different; one man’s fear is another man’s friend.
Where your dragon-fear nests, there too you will find your potential.
Turn towards your potential, edge towards your potential, creep towards it, walk towards it, run at it full pelt and bury your life inside your potential, just don’t sit around waiting for the right time, the next time, another time, any time (but now).
There is no right time.
There are excuses why another time is better… and there is NOW.
Some windows of opportunity only open once.
I was privileged to train in Neil Adams’ full-time judo class for eighteen months. After I had left, the school was disbanded. Neil moved away and the class was no more. If I did not take that opportunity there and then — and I was very scared at the time — I’d have missed my moment.
BJJ legend Rigan Machado told me that he was so hungry to grow his grappling game that he actually travelled 5,000 miles just to be on the mat with Neil. He knew that just to be in the same room with greatness – no matter what the discomfort or cost in getting there – would draw greatness towards him. It would have a profound and life-changing effect on him; in proportion to the amount of effort that he made to get him there. And yet there are people with greater opportunities than this on their very doorstep who are too afraid to break comfort and take advantage.
How many knowledge-libraries are you sitting on top of? How many schools and colleges and universities are as close to you as a stone’s throw? What masters are sitting on the periphery of your life?
Let us not be in any doubt about one thing. The Imam Muhammad ibne Baquir was talking to me directly, he was asking me personally, he had singled me out:
Are you really working hard enough Geoff? Are you really investing all the hours you have? Are you really being brave? And what of the many opportunities we have presented you with Geoffrey, are you honestly taking advantage of them? Or are you using ‘very worthy’ excuses to hide the fact that you are too lazy, too greedy, too ignorant or too scared?’
He is jumping from the pages, embracing me, hugging me and saying ‘Geoffrey for f*cks sake, your time is a melting clock, all too soon it’ll be gone and when the questions are asked (and they will be asked of us all) and you complain ‘not enough time, not enough energy, not enough opportunity, not enough money’ you will be asked to stand in the very long line of other excuse makers, ‘the great fallen’, wishing then that you’d taken your life in hand like the small queue of the rare few and done what was possible.
And if it is possible for one, it is possible for all.
And from the great perspective of the here-after I am sure I will look at my life, counting backwards, and know that, of course, there was all the opportunity I could ask for, all the energy was there for the taking and the resources would have been as abundant to me and my striving was for them.
I am in the world, you are in the world. We are so very blessed. Do we really need to wait until there is no life left in us before we really wish to live the life that is left in us?
This is our time. This is our life. It is our turn on the merry-go-round of mortal existence. Don’t let’s sit on the side-lines while the brave few take all the fun.
Ditch your fear, take your risks, take your opportunities while they are there and for God’s sake, live your life now.
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Recommended Books From This Article:
3) The Torah