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Life

An operators handbook

Alex DAlbini 1/6/2011

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For the last 42 years I have been trying to figure out this thing called life. Along the way I have made many mistakes, had a few triumphs, and learned a few lessons. This book is a collection of the best wisdom I can come up with. As a boy I always had to do things my way I never took direction easily. In fact that is probably the source of my biggest trouble. For some reason I couldn't follow the prescribed directions. For mechanical tasks and cooking, things of that sort, I had no problems following directions. But when it came to living life I wanted to find my own way. Somehow somewhere some way I had to find my own unique value. I guess that's all of us to a certain extent.

As a child I definitely did not feel appreciated. There is no point now pointing fingers and laying blame but that is truly how I felt. Lonely, desperate for attention, more importantly desperate for acceptance, just wanting to feel loved, is how I would describe my childhood. By the time I reached the age of 17 I was already a borderline alcoholic. I decided at that point that I needed to turn my life around, but how?

I began reading the Bible. It was strange to me at first. But I felt compelled to know where I stood in the universe, what my purpose was, what really mattered in life. Through reading the Bible I discovered that I had a penchant for philosophy and the desire to discover the truth of things. My parents always said that they expected me to grow up to be a preacher. From the time I was little I seemed to be interested in religion. I'm not sure what it was that I was interested in; maybe it was something about the symbols. Maybe it was that the symbols represented a puzzle that I could unravel.

Following is an attempt to relay to you a viewpoint that has come to me over the years. A viewpoint that I believe will enrich the lives of those who espouse it. Is it the ONLY truth? Heavens no! It is a truth that will lighten your burden and brighten your outlook.

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Let me begin by saying that there is nothing you can do about the circumstances you find yourself in. But YOU CAN choose how you experience them. To say it a different way pain is an unavoidable part of life, but suffering is a choice. Throughout this book I will be referring to a formula that is used not only by me, but has been developed over eons of time and has the power to transform your life. My partners and I at Clarity Point Coaching call it the Clarity Formula. This formula allows you to transform your experience from one of fear based response to one of complete trust. Trust in what? Well, my friend that is the subject of this book.

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Who Am I?

The answer to that question contains both good news and, well, let's just say that there is good news and better news. The good news is you are the story you tell yourself. The better news is you can change the story.

Everything you have collected under the umbrella that equals me including experiences, beliefs, roles etc. are all part of the story that you have assembled in order to "exist". Much of this story was created by arbitrary decisions about experiences you had before you even knew what a story was. So what is contained in that story you tell yourself? I'm a cowboy and Cowboys don't wear tennis shoes? I'm a religious man I don't have time for such frivolity? There is a right way and a wrong way in everything? The truth is always black and white? Whatever your story it is unique to you and can either hold you back or give you wings.

Are there things in your past that are holding you back from becoming the person you want to become? Abusive relationships, criminal behavior, lack of formal education, weight "difficulties" are some of the common things that we allow to convince us we are victims. Whatever they are they whisper the same thing in our ear, "you are not good enough" or your life is not good enough.

Though it is true you are the story you tell yourself, your story has no bearing on your value. Let me repeat that. Your story has no bearing on your value. In fact, your value is infinite. What? You don't believe me? Try this on for size Let's say you were digging in your backyard and you uncovered a diamond. Now this diamond is very unique. What makes it unique is that it is in the shape of a perfect sphere. And if that were not enough when light hits it, the diamond sounds out the most beautiful music you've never heard. Needless to say it is
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completely unique. So what do you think the stone would be worth? Well the obvious answer is that it would be priceless. There's nothing that it can be compared to, no way to establish value. Well my friend you, like that diamond, are completely unique and incomparable therefore priceless. There is no one that could replace you. The world is a different place because you're here and would be forever changed by your absence. There never has been, nor shall there ever be anyone exactly like you.

There are a myriad of things that are unique in nature that we hardly value, but you hold a special place. You are human. Being a human further adds to your uniqueness. Humans hold a unique place in Life. Humans are aware that they are aware. We have self awareness. We have volition. We have PURPOSE. What is your purpose? Or in other words, what are your unique gifts? Your purpose defined by the gifts you have to give = your infinite value The meaning of life becomes experiencing the opportunity to give your gifts. . How does this change your story?

If your purpose here is for experience and your value is never called into question what experience do you choose to have? Do you like the story you've been telling yourself so far? Or is there a truer story waiting to be sounded out as the most beautiful music you have ever heard? Is the light hitting you? Can you feel that song waiting to be sounded out? Does your story represent your unique and priceless value?

You may be asking, So how do I change my story? It is what it is. I can't change the past I can't change what happened to me! Maybe it's my cross to bear The important question to ask here is whether or not your story is serving you or whether you are serving your story?

Are you ready to change your story?

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Clarity point #1 Choose to trust that your value is absolute and is never called into question.

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Good guys wear white

Over time I have become fascinated with the story of the Garden of Eden. I find it to be a treasure trove of Information. If one understands the symbolism contained in this story it changes everything. The source of much of our trouble is the result of our dualistic view. It causes us to cast others in the roles of good guys and bad guys. It causes us to choose suffering over peace, fear over trust.

The Bible lays out to us the story of the Garden of Eden. This story is said to represent the origin of man. These symbols contained in the story hold powerful truths. Actually the truths are not contained as much in symbols as in the symbol of the story itself and how it was structured.

As the camera pans across a lush garden scene it closes in on a couple, Adam and Eve in the garden, minding their own business, tending to the garden, when they are approached by a serpent. The serpent of course represents Satan (in my opinion Adam and Eve represent man and woman in general, or you and me). Satan attempts to convince Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The story more than implies that it was all Eves fault. Adam stood strong but felt sorry for Eve because she would be cast out and be alone. A plausible scenario However not very politically correct (it is obvious that a woman was not consulted in the writing process). Satan tells them that if they partake of the fruit they will be as God knowing good from evil. This sounds reasonable enough. After all who knows better than God the difference between good and evil?

Prior to this point Adam and Eve lived in paradise, in a state of innocence, in the presence of God. After partaking of the fruit they were cast out of paradise, out of the presence of God and lost innocence. We are taught to believe they were expelled because they disobeyed God's word by partaking of the fruit. But, is there a chance that they were cast out not because they disobeyed Gods word but because they partook of the fruit (which by the way was/is necessary for our experience)?
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Have you ever seen a Knowledge of Good and Evil tree? I havent, but logic tells me that if the fruit of a cherry tree is a cherry, then the fruit of a knowledge of good and evil tree is knowledge of good and evil. If the effects of the fruit were to gain knowledge of good and evil, one would by partaking of the fruit, lose their innocence and come to the knowledge that god and evil exist. If Adam and Eve(man and woman) were to partake of this fruit, judgment would enter the world. In other words, instead of the world appearing as a paradise it now appeared as a place broken into two parts the good part and the bad part. Remember, this dichotomy is necessary in order to experience life as we should. It applies the pressure we need in order to make choices, thereby ensuring that we create a completely unique experience. So, in every moment we make a judgment whether the moment is good or bad, whether this person is good or bad, whether this experience is good or bad, in short, whether to trust or fear.

Prior to partaking of the fruit we can see that Adam and Eve were in complete innocence. But it was an existence devoid of growth, unable to appreciate the sweetness for they knew no bitterness. After partaking of the fruit it can be said that fear, judgment, and opposition entered the world.

Why would it matter if you understood this perspective? Well for one, it enables one to see that separation from GOD (peace) is due to the dualistic nature of our thought process. If there are no good guys and bad guys then there is definitely more room for compassion. So one of the steps in the clarity formula that I spoke of earlier is to see others as the same as myself. That is, human, fearful, not possessing all the facts, and having a limited viewpoint. We can trust in that fact. A common theme that will run throughout this book is that of trust/love versus fear.

Our conflict with others, life, situations, is rooted in what we consider to be true as opposed to the truth of other. In order to have this conversation we need
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to come to agreement on what truth is. For our purpose here let just say that truth is what I experience. This concept is important to understand. Because, our version of the truth changes as we grow and develop.

In the beginning, at least, we develop our sense of self by recognizing what is not us and separating that out. So for an example, when we are very young we recognize that when we bite our arm it hurts and when we bite the chair it does not. We then systematically separate from our surroundings (and others) until we gain a sense of self. As we gain experience and our self sense becomes more solid we begin to recognize more and more things that we can include in our self sense, such as family members, people of other backgrounds or race, people from other countries, people in general, other forms of life, life in general etc etc. Therefore our definition of self grows. As our definition of self grows so does our concept of truth as well as what we consider to be the source of truth. In addition life reveals to us the truth that we are able to handle at that particular point in our life. For example, when first learning arithmetic we are told that you cannot subtract a bigger number from a smaller number. However within a few years we learn about negative numbers. The rules have now changed. Life has a way of placing us in situations that obliterates our preconceived notions or the "truths" that it has already taught us.

The key to success is to realize that our understanding is ever-changing. It is continually being refined as is our character. If we can accept the fact that life is not about good versus evil and that there is nothing to prove then it will awaken in us a curiosity to learn what's next. We begin to see life as without bound without limits and without fear.

Clarity Point #2 - Choose to see others as the same as yourself.

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The moment

A lot has been said about being in the moment. Not enough has been said about its relation to suffering. Buddhism teaches that suffering comes from attachment. I would add to that definition a little bit and say that suffering comes from our attachment to our point of view or our truth. Pain is an unavoidable part of life, suffering however, is a choice. We suffer when we fight that which is. Pain can be physical, mental, or emotional. Suffering, however, is a purely mental condition. At the center of suffering is the desire to be somewhere (figuratively) else. At the center of finding peace is the ability to immerse yourself in the moment. At first blush this seems contradictory; the two ideas of being in the moment and not fighting what is on one hand and not being apathetic on the other. But this theory does not allow for apathy, I am not saying accept the status quo.

We are responsible for what we experience. This means that when I experience unhappiness I understand that it is my choice and my creation. The situation may be completely out of my control but how I experience a situation is absolutely my decision.

If I am ill and accept that fact, I maintain my power to do something about it. If on the other hand I am living in a situation that I do not enjoy, in fact I hate it, but I view it as an obstacle to my happiness or peace or well-being then I give away my power to change it. I do this because I feel that the situation was thrust upon me by some other unseen force and I am at the mercy of that force.

Lets get back to the subject at hand. How does one "stay in the moment1"? The simple answer is practice. We must take the time to practice the things we want to change our lives. Just like the warrior that faces battle. If we wait until we are in the midst of a battle to practice our technique we get slaughtered. If you're
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Refer to Index for exercises relating to improving your awareness of the moment

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serious about changing the things you do and the focus of your attention then you need to practice. Lasting change takes long-term dedicated practice. You have to make a commitment to the process. It has to become the most important thing to you; otherwise you'll be distracted by CSI or Dancing With the Stars or some other distraction competing for your attention.

So how can we tell when we are not present? I can best illustrate this point by describing a scenario. The scenario is this you are in a conversation where you feel driven to make your point. While the other person is describing their point of view you are busy taking mental notes and rehearsing what you will say next. Instead of hearing what the other person has to say you are stuck in future rehearsing your come back. Attachment to an outcome that is not present or that does not exist is also in an attempt to escape the moment or an attempt to change what is. Again this does not make space for apathy, we are talking about what is, not what may become. I can accept the fact that there is hunger in the world today which then motivates me to do something about tomorrow. In order to do that, I must do something now, in the moment, to affect the future. That is not the same thing as longing for things to be different in the future.

This is probably a good place to introduce the concept of psychological time versus clock or calendar time. I first ran across this idea in a little book called the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. The concept is simple, clock or calendar time refers to a future event that you can plan for. Psychological time refers to a mental fantasy past or present. There is obvious use in being able to plan for the future but action must be taken now. Psychological time refers to dwelling mentally upon the future or past without effect being made by actions taken now.

A byproduct of psychological time is the concept of guilt. When you're feeling guilty you tend to dwell on past experiences in a negative manner. Guilt saps the will of the guilty from doing anything about the problem. It's just negativity. Contrition is much more positive. You may regret action in the past but you're motivated to do something about it. To make amends in other words. Worry is very similar. Where guilt pertains to the past, worry pertains the future. Both
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have their roots in fear. I like to say that fear has its roots in the past and its power in the future.

The future does not exist nor does the past, all I have is now. Can I point to tomorrow or yesterday? Can you show it to me? Time is a concept developed to enable us to organize our lives into neat little manageable compartments. Now, dont get me wrong. Time is of obvious utility, but it is just a tool. As such, it should be put away when not needed.

If I were to liken eternity to a sacred cow, time would be the cuts of meat offered by a butcher. Time is a mental construct. It is sliced out of the whole. We get so used to going to the store to buy a steak we forget that it came from a once living, breathing cow.

When speaking of being in the moment what we are really saying is to be fully present. Being fully present means having every faculty tuned in to what is happening right now. By being fully present the moment becomes boundless no longer aware of the minutes as they tick by we are connected to the flow of experience, aware of all the nuances that exist. In this state there is little use for fantasy or bringing up the past. Our awareness is full.

We miss a lot of life in fantasy and reliving the past. Out of fear we worry about the future and feel guilty about the past. In each case we let the present slip by. Take for instance a memory. In order to experience a memory we must create a mental image of the past event in the present moment. What happens is that we forgo the experience of the present moment in order to re-experience our fabrication of a past event. It is a fabrication, because, our experience of the past event is but one perspective, it is by no means exactly what happened. The memory is an experience colored by prejudice and emotion and a myriad of other things. So, tell me friend, what is the difference between fantasizing about the future and bringing up the past? Again these abilities are tools. If the only tool we have is a screw driver then we will soon be substituting it for a hammer, a drill, etc. (and totally screwing everything up sorry couldnt resist).
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It is as if there was this huge conspiracy to convince everyone that memory (screw driver) was the only tool we needed and that the best memory always won the argument (I am pretty sure the conspiracy was made up of all women)[insert laughter]. OK, not really, but I think you get my point. By being present we can see that at the heart of the disagreement is a cry for love. It may be colored as need for acceptance or need to be right or a host of other things, but it is still based in fear; Fear that I am not good enough or that my life is not good enough.

We began this discussion with a short conversation on symbols. I would like to return to our conversation on symbols for a moment. What is a symbol? Essentially it is something that represents something else. Symbols allow us the ability to communicate and store information. Among other things they allow us to have a certain amount of control in our environment. A symbol is something that points to something else. A symbol is not the thing that it represents any more than the moon can be confused with the finger that is pointing at it.

There are many types of symbols. The letters and words on this page for instance. These symbols are used to convey an understanding of concepts that will hopefully illuminate a possibility of experience not before realized.

As you well know the meaning of any symbol is derived from the context. We have in each symbol, a dormant aspect and a live aspect. Follow with me for a moment through a little mental exercise. Consider the symbol as a seed. Fruit falls from the vine. From this process, seeds are brought forth. In essence, the tree (truth) has been reduced to a seed (symbol). But, in the seed lies dormant the potential of the tree. It is not quite alive, not dead, but dormant. As life springs forth from the seed the true value of the seed is seen in the tree.

So it goes with symbols. From the process of making truth dormant we turn it into symbols. In its dormant form it possesses some value; it can be communicated, stored, and recalled. But, when it comes to our lives, the real
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value of the symbol is manifest when we plant the seed in our hearts and bring it to life by having the experience the symbol represents thus transforming ourselves and our lives.

Another example; if I say the word "bark" you have no idea if I am referring to the bark of a tree for the bark of a dog. Again, without context there is no meaning. Context is very important for symbols. Symbols can be very powerful; they can be used to convey a lot of information in a short space. Symbols can also be used to short-circuit the conveyance of information.

A familiar scenario: You and your spouse are in another argument possibly the same argument you've had 100 times. In fact, you have had this argument so many times you can almost quote verbatim your spouse's reactions. Just like the 99 times before you've heard this argument ad nauseam. Therein lays the problem. Let me explain. You're not actually having an argument with your spouse you having an argument with a symbol. That symbol represents the 99 other arguments you have had with your spouse. It is as if in your mind you create a transparency that looks just like your spouse but contains all of the emotion and memory of previous arguments. You then place that transparency over the face of your spouse and that is how you experience the moment and with whom you're arguing.

Believe it or not this is (excuse the bible-speak) a form of idolatry. Think about this, It is much easier to worship a graven image than it is to put forth the effort to have a personal experience with God - Just as it is much easier to argue based upon your created transparency (graven image) than it is to be fully present with your spouse.

Be warned I get off track a lot. Just give me a nudge next time I start to wander. Okay so where was I? Oh yes Being in the moment.

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In any given moment or situation we have a decision to make between one of two choices, that is: am I going to experience this moment with trust or with fear. Am I going to see this situation is perfect and thus allowing myself to express that which is appropriate for the moment or am I going to see this situation as bad? Hand-in-hand with our decision is the understanding that we are in one of two places, either we are showing up to give love or are we are asking to be given love. I find it very interesting that hidden in the structure of the story of the origin of man is the concept of trust or love versus fear or judgment. I mean when you think about it we are all running around trying to prove ourselves to an unseen power that knows all and sees all. If he knows all and sees all then, what do we prove to him anyway?

Life is not about being "good" versus being "bad". Could it be that the purpose of life is simply to experience the opposite of our Divine nature? It has been said that we must taste the bitter to know the sweet. If life really is just about the experience it certainly changes our focus to quality instead of quantity.

If you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that your life was about the experience and you also knew that your value is never called into question how would that change the way you experience life? The freedom we crave is simply a matter of understanding that life offers us nothing to fear. Life is not out to get me and you. It continues to roll forth in spite of us or because of us. We can either fight what is or we can allow ourselves to be used by life to be a blessing to others and learn to trust the process.

Clarity point #3 Choose to trust the process of your life.

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Truth

There has been a long-standing battle between science and religion. The perceived problem is between their definitions of truth. In reality the two arenas contain or reveal two different types of truth. I said earlier that for the sake of our discussion the definition for truth is "what I experience". This definition works for one type of truth but not for the other. For the other type of truth we need to adjust this simple definition just a bit. For this type of truth our definition reads "what we experience". The two different types of truth we will label as subjective and objective.

In order to find the truth of a particular investigation one must perform what is called an injunction. Ideally if we have found truth then the outcome of the injunction should be the same every time. Religion concerns itself mainly with the first type of truth which is subjective, or in other words "what I experience". Science is concerned mainly with objective truth on other words "what we experience". Objective truth is that truth which can be observed from an external viewpoint. It passes the test and is observable every time. Subjective truths may pass the test every time but it is not externally observable. It may be witnessed from an internal or subjective experience. This distinction is important. Each type of truth is valid in its own arena. If we can give due respect to each type of truth then we can travel a lot further down the road to understanding.

Let's review. In the beginning man was in an undisturbed albeit static state. When the knowledge of good and evil, or judgment, entered the world, so did fear. This is looking at things from an objective perspective. Subjectively we would say in the beginning I was in an undisturbed yet static state and when judgment entered my world so did fear. That which I fear has power over me. The opposite of fear is trust. Trust is best supported by being fully present in the moment. Fear exists because of a focus outside the moment. Fear is always about what is to come not what is present.

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One of the things it gets in our way of trust is the past. As we have already determined the past does not exist. However, when experiencing a memory it presents itself as truth. If we accept the memory as true, what kind of truth is it? The answer would be subjective. It is what I experience. If I can accept the fact that my memory of a past experience is completely subjective then I know that your memory is also subjective. If our memories do not match how do we find common ground or in other words trust?

In order to answer that, let me illustrate a point. If you flip a coin there is a 50% chance that it will land heads up therefore there is also a 50% chance that it will land tails up. If I flip the coin 10 times and by some stroke of luck it lands heads up 10 times what is the chance that it will land heads up on the 11th flip? The answer is 50%. The previous experiences or flips have nothing to do with the 11th flip. Experience tells us that it cant land heads up forever so we would have a high expectation of the coin landing tails up. But that doesn't change the percentage. This illustrates the point that each flip is an independent occasion.

What can we learn from the previous example? When experiencing a disagreement often times we also re-experience all the previous disagreements that we have had with that person or all the previous disagreements we have had that are similar in scope. The concept of time tricks us into believing are linked to the present moment or occasion, when in reality all there is only now this occasion. this moment. And in this moment we have a choice - to trust or fear, to give love or ask for it. You've heard the statement from salesmen that in any given moment you are either selling something or being sold something. Well I like to say it this way in any given moment we are either giving love or asking to be loved.

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Love

Love is a slippery word. It is perhaps the most misused word in English language. Although it has inspired more use of the English language than any other word. Like I said the only love I have is the love I give. I cannot require love, I cannot buy love, I certainly can't own love.

We act as if love is a commodity. Do you act as if the love of your spouse is your property that your spouse owes it to you and that you own it exclusively? The truth of the matter is that love can only be given. If you doubt this grab someone's love, take It, try to sell it or give it away. You can't possess it let alone do anything with it. Again, the only love you have the love you give away. You think that you feel love from someone else. But how do you know if you are loved? You could be sitting in the same room with someone who is madly in love with you and you would never know. In order to know if someone is in love with you, you must first consider the possibility and then you look for evidence. If the evidence supports the possibility then you except that the person loves you. What then happens is you allow the evidence to be an excuse to let the love that is within you well up. You then feel love. So, in short, love is a natural state and we go through our daily routine believing the excuses that we make in order to not feel the love that is already inside us.

Is any of this making sense? Does it resonate with you? Does it feel like you already knew this? I had a teacher who used to say, "I'm not here to teach you anything just to help you remember."

I have used the words love and trust interchangeably and I think that at times that is appropriate. But I do want to define a difference. Love, in simple terms, is an attraction based on affinity. Trust is the space that allows love to happen. When we are born we have no sense of self. There is just raw experience. We then discover other. We bite our finger and it hurts, we bite the chair it doesn't. Pain becomes our first teacher. And it teaches us by helping us recognize what is not us. This is how our sense of self is developed, by
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recognizing what is not me. What is left over is me. It becomes a habit to notice what is different from me. In time we come to a point where we have a solid sense of self. When we reach "adulthood" we reach the center of gravity for selfdevelopment in our surroundings. In order to continue to grow or develop we must transcend this habit of distinction or in other words we must transcend our sense of self.

We begin this process by recognizing our sameness or, in other words, by loving. And this is possible by allowing ourselves to trust. Whenever we are having difficulty trusting we can rest assured that we are in fear. Remember, fear is not about what is present, now. Fear is about not being present. And don't forget all you really have is now, you can't love in the future you can only love now. Have you ever noticed how time changes when you're in love. I don't mean love in general sense; I am talking about when you are in that space where you are feeling love. When you're in that space you are aware of your connections to all things, and everything seems to go your way, and if something happens that you didn't plan on, you handle it was much more graceful acceptance. Think about what shatters that moment. Is it usually something like noticing faults, keeping a schedule, focusing on what comes next, guilt, worry, in short fear?

Clarity point #4 Choose to handle this situation with love.

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The four points we have covered are the clarity formula we spoke of in the beginning. Putting this formula into practice consistently takes effort. At Clarity Point Coaching we have a six-month program which enables you to learn and embody this formula. It doesn't matter what walk of life you come from, what career you have, or what your belief system is, this formula will change your life. If you would like to learn how to live life more fully improve your relationships and change your story contact us today at claritypointcoaching.com

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