[Editor’s Note: This is Day 8 of the Be Your Own Guru blog series. Dave and I go back a few years, having appeared together in a local production of “The Who’s Tommy” in 2007. Every time I talk to him, I learn something new about him. Today’s post opened my eyes to how deeply spiritual this guy is – and how his life lessons can help you with yours.]
At age 54, I have worn many career hats; bicycle racer, retail management, financial guru, teacher of science and English, coach of skiing, soccer and fitness. Throughout my life, one theme has been a constant. I have always been an educator and my first client has always been myself. I have never asked more of my athletes and students than I did of myself. I have never asked those in my charge to do anything that I didn’t try on myself first.
Early on as a coach, I developed the notion that athletic success is a three-legged stool: fitness, technique and tactics.
From a soccer perspective:
FITNESS – Can you run hard for the ninety minutes of a game?
TECHNIQUE – Can you consistently perform the skills of the game, e.g. direct your headers to a teammate?
TACTICS – Can you, on the fly, identify an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses to defeat your opponent?
For maximum athletic success, the three are closely intertwined. For instance, at the end of a long soccer game, if one is able to identify a weakness in the opponent’s defense, one must still be strong enough to use proper technique to complete a pass to a teammate for a scoring opportunity. Lacking a leg, you will surely lose.
Life, too, has three legs: spiritual, intellectual and physical.
YOUR SPIRIT: Exercise your spirit every day. Whether you chose to believe in a Supreme Being, or Beings, or none at all, is irrelevant. What is relevant is the realization that you matter. You have the power to accomplish great things and that power resides in your willingness to do great things for those around you. Compassion is the seat of life’s greatest power.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson
YOUR INTELLECT: Exercise your mind every day. Challenge yourself. Take a good look at a belief, a position, an idea. Research it. Look at it through fresh eyes; beginner’s eyes, child-like eyes of wonder and amazement. Learn new skills – play the violin, draw, read a different sort of book, brush-up on your algebra. When it comes to your mind – NEVER turn down an invitation to think differently.
“What do you care what other people think?” – Richard Feynman
YOUR BODY: Exercise your body every day. This is the only body you get. Use it. Walk. Swim. Garden. Swing on the swings. Chop some firewood. Rake leaves for someone infirm. Play senior league hockey or soccer. Be mindful of what goes into your body. Stop eating before you’re full. Leave some food for another time. We have body image issues – All of us. Accept what you’ve been given and do the best you can with what you’ve got.
“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” – Wittgenstein
Twenty-three hundred years ago, Aristotle spoke of the High-Minded Man – “He should care more for the truth than what people think.”
Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha sat under a tree and realized that all men suffer yet compassion trumps all.
Twenty-two hundred years ago, Rabbi Hillel the Elder said “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.”
I am a Zen Juddhist – by birth a Jew, by choice a Buddhist. I have no difficulties reconciling the beliefs of my two religions. Judaism’s most exalted prayer is the Sh’ma.
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
With the Sh’ma, we proclaim to the world and ourselves that we are the people of Israel and we believe in one God. Hillel the Elder, clarified Judaism in one sentence:
“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.”
The three great aims of any Jew: Prayer, Tikkun Olam (Healing the World) and Study. We are commanded, by our One God, to Heal the World.
Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths reveal all about the human condition.
Life means suffering.
The root of suffering is attachment.
The cessation of suffering is attainable.
This path is found in peaceful abiding (meditation).
In meditation, we find that our arrow points both within ourselves to reveal our true Buddha nature, and it also points out to the world, as we develop our compassionate heart to all living beings.
In closing, if I were to boil these 900 words down into a one word guide for a happy life, it is PASSION.
Be excited. Be alive. Whatever you do, do it 100%. Shunryu Suzuki said it best. “When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”
I’m partial to this clip. This is PASSION:
Please take 5 minutes and watch. Jimmy Valvano was the basketball coach in 1983 at North Carolina State when they won, against very long odds, the NCAA title. He was stricken with adenocarcinoma in 1992. In the spring of 1993, he was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. This clip is from his acceptance speech. He died eight weeks later.
You want to know how to be your own guru? Listen to Jimmy V. Thank-you.
David Stanley is a man with a lot of concentrated living under his belt. An educator, athletic coach, actor and professional voice-over artist, David is also a cancer-survivor with a lot of moxie. On his blog you’ll find thought-provoking, fear-melting posts, rants and raves. You can also connect with him on twitter and facebook.