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Care, but not t-h-a-t much

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

“Whenever a social interaction looms so large in your mind that you view it as watershed event in Western Civilization, you are in trouble.  You’re caring too much and with that you lose the requisite detachment necessary for success.

There’s a prosaic saying that whenever a person is overcome with feelings, be it anger or desire, he or she “can’t see the forest for the trees”.  Oddly, or maybe fittingly, when that happens you move in close that you might even swear, “There is no tree, only a knothole right here.”

In other words, what you must do is to train yourself to step back, so that you can see the pattern, relationships and interconnection of things.”

Excerpt taken from Negotiate This!: By Caring, but Not T-H-A-T Much by Herb Cohen

This not only applies in negotiation, but also in the endeavours we undertake.  Do you sometimes suffer from mental blocks in your work, or the things you do ?  I do.  Besides the occasional perfectionism bout, I think one other reason is that I care too much for the outcome of my efforts.  This excerpt is a stark reminder to me to care, but not that much.

Caring too much about the outcome will only impede progress because we are too afraid to try.  We are forever aiming and aiming but never firing. 

Did Mother Teresa doubt her faith and God ?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

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Letters reveal Mother Teresa’s doubt about her faith and God

By Daniel Trotta, Reuters  |  August 25, 2007

NEW YORK – A book of letters written by Mother Teresa of Calcutta reveals for the first time that she was deeply tormented about her faith and suffered periods of doubt about God.

“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear,” she wrote the Rev. Michael van der Peet in September 1979.

Due out on September 4, “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light” is a collection of letters written to colleagues and superiors over 66 years. In the United States it will be published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House, which is owned by German media group Bertelsmann.

The ethnic Albanian Roman Catholic nun, who dedicated her life to poor, sick and dying in India, died in 1997 aged 87.

Mother Teresa had wanted all her letters destroyed, but the Vatican ordered they be preserved as potential relics of a saint, a spokeswoman for Doubleday said.

Mother Teresa has been beatified but not yet canonized.

Time magazine, which has first serial rights, published excerpts on its Web site.

“I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she wrote to one adviser. “If you were (there), you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.'”

The book was compiled and edited by the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, a proponent of her sainthood and senior member of the Missionaries of Charity order that she founded.

The letters likely would do little to affect her cause for sainthood as church history is dotted with saints who have been tormented about their faith.

Saint Thomas the Apostle — the “Doubting Thomas” — doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead until, according to scripture, he touches the wound of a resurrected Jesus. Christ himself wondered “God, why have you forsaken me” while on the cross, the Bible says.

But the Mother Teresa letters nonetheless stand in marked contrast to her public image as a selfless and tireless minister for the poor who was driven by faith.

“I’ve never read a saint’s life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented,” the Rev. James Martin, an editor at Jesuit magazine America and the author of “My Life with the Saints,” told Time.

THE DARK LETTERS

The writings address numerous topics, but the ones most likely to create a stir are what Doubleday called the “dark letters.”

“Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself — for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead,” she wrote in 1953. “It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.'”

Then in 1956: “Such deep longing for God — and … repulsed — empty — no faith — no love — no zeal. (Saving) souls holds no attraction — Heaven means nothing — pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”

And then in 1959: “If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus — You also are not true.”

At times she also found it hard to pray.

“I utter words of community prayers — and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give — but my prayer of union is not there any longer — I no longer pray.”

Struggles of a Pious Leader

After reading the news reports, what do you think ? 

Most of us will never be able to appreciate what Mother Teresa went through during “the work” because we have not been in situations as trying as hers for an extended period of time.  To live amidst deeply suffering people and offer perhaps the only hope in their world, is to live a life of tremendous burden and stress. 

People who do not come close to living in similar conditions will find it hard to empathasize with what Mother Teresa went through.  We think we know through words and print which we hear and read, but unless and until we are in the same shoes, we’ll never truly know.

When you read a book or listen to a news report, do you find yourself thinking then that you know what is written or said ?  Then at some point in the future, when you experience a similar situation, your memory calls forth whatever that you have read or heard, and you realise that only now do you truly understand what it was all about.

I’m an ardent student of personal development and business.  In a strange twist of events, I find myself attracted to the path of entrepreneurship.  I guess it’s a natural progression and choice because I am an adventurous person, and passionate about growing and developing myself spiritually, emotionally, mentally and fully as a human being.  Entrepreneurship is the ultimate challenge.  You are bound to no master but yourself.  Slave to no one but your own demons.   

Some times you think that you know, but do you really know ?   Until I embarked on the journey, I could never come this close to appreciating what it’s like.  The journey is exciting and challenging, yet at the same time it’s lonely, uncertain and grey.  The path ahead is lighted only by the fire in my heart.  The heart and mind wavers between belief and faith in one moment, and self-doubt and anxiety in another.  Sometimes the fire burns bright with passion and strength, other times it dims and weakens and is at the brink of extinguishing.

Does it mean that I need to have absolute faith and no tinge of weakness whatsoever to be worthy of this journey ?  Definitely not.  It’s only human to experience these emotions.  And these emotions are brought out by the experience that I’m going through.  In earlier “secure” times, I had always perceived myself to be strong.  I never knew I can be so weak – till I choose to put myself through the test. 

“I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she wrote to one adviser. “If you were (there), you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.'”

Mother Teresa was not a hyprocrite.  She was honest and humble to admit the doubt in her heart. 

Saint Thomas the Apostle — the “Doubting Thomas” — doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead until, according to scripture, he touches the wound of a resurrected Jesus. Christ himself wondered “God, why have you forsaken me” while on the cross, the Bible says.

But the Mother Teresa letters nonetheless stand in marked contrast to her public image as a selfless and tireless minister for the poor who was driven by faith.

Existence of doubt in one who is spiritually advanced and saintly like Mother Teresa can only suggest how tormented she was in what she was doing.   Most people are of spiritual levels very distant from that of Mother Teresa, and so will not be able to appreciate how she saw, felt and thought.   

Without doubt, what is faith worth ? 

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Exponential Growth of Money and Success

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

This is quite an interesting article – Exponential Growth of Money and Success

Focus, Consistency and Patience – formula for persisting with your chosen path, and not to give up and change paths quickly whenever you hit a bump.  Be focused on the big picture and your goal.  Consistently do the things which you have to do to get to your destination.  Have patience to go through the process.  People usually give up too soon before they allow their efforts to transform into results. 

Then again, be wary of the danger of target fixation.  We have to be flexible and adjust our tactics as we navigate the terrain.   If it is obviously a dead-end, then it is wiser to drop that approach and look for a way around the obstacle.  Know when to quit and what to quit.  The important thing is to maintain the momentum and keep moving forward in the direction towards your destination.

The Secret… Exposed

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

The Secret has taken the world by storm.

Have you wondered – what’s so “secret” about it ?   What’s behind the eye-catching cover that claims to be an ancient “antidote” which can give you anything you want, if you apply it ?

I am a book fanatic.  The local bookstore is my favourite hangout and I can easily spend hundreds of dollars a month on books.   However, there is this thing about books with flashy cover, which makes me want to linger around it longer before forking out the extra dollars.  I want to base my decision to buy on the substance, not the cover.

Perhaps the marketing hype is too loud.  Perhaps the title is just too “secret” and therefore enticing to a curious consumer.   After a couple of trips to the bookstore, I finally succumbed to my inquisitive nature and bought it.  I want to find out for myself what the hoopla is all about.

What “The Secret” Is Really About…

The book is a compilation of quotes by well-known people – living and ancient (i.e. dead).  The author tries to give a structure to the quotes and breaks the book into different categories.  However the essence is the “law of attraction” – the weaving thread through the chapters.

The basic concept is visualisation and belief in the thing you want, hence in the process attracting it into your life (hopefully).

If you keep thinking about bad things, likely you’ll attract the bad things into your life. if you visualise and cultivate strong positive emotions, etc about your desired object, your mind will tend to notice the paths to attain your goal. hence, it seems that you are “attracting” it into your life.

So Is “The Secret” Really A Secret ?

If you are an ardent reader of self-help books, you’ll find that the concept is nothing new or “secret”.  It’s the marketing hype that makes it take the world by storm.

Having said that, visualisation, strong desire and belief are the first steps to achieving what you want.  So a book with this focus is a good read too…    

Ultimately, action has to follow to actualise the mental “exercise” as in the law of attraction.  Otherwise, it’s like building sand castle in the air.  No matter how beautiful the sand castle is, it is still … in the air !

If by reading this book, you can get so inspired to take that first step to start the process of attraction – by thinking right – then I think you would have reaped the benefits from reading it and the money is well spent.  

Hey, you could even present this as a gift and capitalize on the sensational-looking cover !

See also … The Secret

Freedom and Responsibility

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

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Freedom is only part of the story and half the truth …  That is why I recommend that the Statute of Liberty on the East Coast be supplanted by a Statute of Responsibility on the West Coast.

—  Viktor E. Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason

Friday, December 29th, 2006

richest-man-in-babylon.jpg babylon.jpg

This is a book written in the 1920s and is touted as a classic in the topic of personal wealth.  It’s a small book, just over 100 pages but it contains many gems of wisdom on personal wealth illustrated through avid storytelling. 

My views on personal finance have changed somewhat after reading this book.   Do check it out if you have not already done so. 

Bullshit

Friday, December 29th, 2006

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Can you believe this…  Someone has actually done an academic research on the topic of ‘bullshit’ and published a book on it.

I was at a bookshop the other day and chanced upon such a book.  I did not believe my eyes and had to blink a few times to confirm.  Yeah there it was.. B.S. staring squarely into my face.

The subject is given serious treatment, though, not some book written in jest. It contained the basics of an academic writing – definition, terminology, different types, schools of thought, etc… the author is a Professor of Philosophy in the University of Princeton.

Some of the discussion which I found rather amusing :

* bullshit is likened to hot air embodying empty talk
* talking bullshit is different fm lying. a person who lies does so with intent to deceive, while he who bullshits may not begin with such an intent.

To read more about B.S., visit your local bookstore, say “philosophy” section and look for a small palm-sized black-covered book with the topic boldly printed.

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