Lee & Steven Hager, the authors of “The Beginning of Fearlessness: Quantum Prodigal Son.” Writing about themselves, “We’re just like you. We have no special qualifications, but after years of struggle, we discovered the key to living a life of fearlessness. If we could, you can too.” Please continue reading more about Lee & Steven and their unique journey of living a life of “fearlessness” http://www.thebeginningoffearlessness.com/about/
Written onAugust 27, 2011 by Lee & Steven Hager
We say those two words quite often, but almost always in relation to something happening outside of us, something we have judged as positive, something that appears to be ‘in our favor.’ Of course judgment cuts two ways, so we will inevitably find ourselves saying two other words: “That’s bad.” Although we regularly hear people use the popular catch phrase, “It’s all good,” most who utter those words continue to label their own experiences as either good or bad.
When we view life from the perspective of good/bad, right/wrong, positive/negative, we live on a constantly swinging pendulum that’s set in motion by the things occurring outside us. The energy from our happiness sends the pendulum swinging in one direction. But when the conditions that caused our happiness no longer fuel our energy, the loss of momentum will inevitably send the pendulum swinging back in the opposite direction and we become unhappy. Much as we would like, it’s impossible to keep the pendulum on the side of “That’s good.” However, it is possible to be an exception to this rule.
It was said that the Taoist sage, Chuang Tzu, replied, “That’s good,” no matter what anyone told him. As you can imagine, this caused many who had come to Chuang Tzu with their bad news to go away offended or come to the conclusion that Chuang Tzu was either deaf or had lost his wits. Why would a man known for his wisdom treat the misery of others in such an apparently unfeeling manner? But it was also reported that Chuang Tzu said, “That’s good” when he was told that his own son’s legs had been broken in an accident. On the surface this appears senseless. To tease out the meaning, let’s look at the story of another wise man that treated his own misfortune in the same way.
Recently our dear friend Musa Askari (also one of our guest bloggers) acquainted us with a wonderful book of Sufi wisdom stories titled Solomon’s Ring. It contains the stories of Sufi master Ghauth Ali Shah Qalander that were scribed by his disciple, Gul Hasan. The stories were translated from the original Urdu language by Musa’s father, Hasan Askari, a highly respected Urdu scholar and linguist. As we quote a few lines from one of these stories, also titled “Solomon’s Ring,” you cannot help but notice the similar responses of Chuang Tzu and Solomon:
“It is said that when Solomon lost his ring of power and wisdom he said, ”Al Hamdu ‘Lillah [All praise be to God]. And when he found the ring, then also he said, “Al Hamdu ‘Lillah”
Not only did Solomon consider each incident ‘good,’ he gave thanks for it. Since Solomon’s wisdom was legendary, we might assume that it was the ring itself that gave Solomon’s wisdom and great power. In that can case, we would expect that the loss of the ring would receive a very different reaction. Yet Solomon, like Chuang Tzu, met each supposedly ‘good’ or ‘bad’ experience with the same response. How did these sages manage to avoid the extremes of emotion we so often feel in connection with the things we judge to be either good or bad? What did they know that enabled them to evaluate all occurrences in the same way?
Let’s return to Chuang Tzu. He said “That’s good” after he was told about his son’s accident, and the people thought he was crazy. The next day when soldiers came and hauled their sons away to force them into the army and Chuang Tzu’s son was not taken, they thought he was insightful. When his son’s impending marriage was called off and Chuang Tzu said, “That’s good,” they thought he was crazy. When the ex-fiancé died a few days later, they praised Chuang Tzu’s insight once again. Like Chuang Tzu’s neighbors, we might think that he could see into the future, but instead he had insight that was far more valuable.
Chuang Tzu didn’t stop the pendulum swing by controlling his reactions to things that happened outside him; he had gotten off of the pendulum all together. This doesn’t mean he was apathetic or disengaged, he just saw things in a very different way and was responding from that perpective. Although he understood that conditions and experiences in this world would continually change, he had become attuned to something far greater. He called this something the Tao; you may call it God, universe, All That Is. The name doesn’t matter, but understanding that this greater power lifts us out of the duality of good/bad, right/ wrong, does. Chuang Tzu and Solomon had each traded limited perception for vision. They both saw past the misperception that we are a mortal body that can be harmed by the experiences taking place in this world and knew that we are one with the immortal Divine.
In “Solomon’s ring,” Solomon says that the praise he gave to the Divine when he lost and found the ring did not come from the perspective of human logic or emotion, but was “on the basis of the state of my heart.” Since his heart was one with God, he said, “The heart was neither distressed at [the ring’s] loss nor overjoyed at its recovery.” He knew that his wisdom and power both issued from his oneness with the Divine not a material object, and could never be threatened by any experience in this world. As the story of Solomon’s ring concludes, we’re told, “Solomon’s ring was an outer token of inner remembrance and stability.”
There is no need to continue riding the wild swings of the pendulum of duality and misperception. We are all called to Oneness with the Divine and can experience this world in peace and tranquility as Chuang Tzu and Solomon did. Recognizing our oneness with All That Is allows us to let go of misperceptions and see with the vision of the heart; this is the beginning of fearlessness.