Another great poem by Steve Taylor, from his latest newsletter. We’ve all been through this, it’s part of growing up. Many soaps and political cultures, including the current US presidency, are full of it.
The World of Pettiness
Keep outside the world of pettiness, if you can.
If you step into the world of pettiness
you may never get out again.
The world of pettiness is like a soap opera
where people act out endless episodes
of falling out and reconciling
of resenting and retaliating
of comparing and competing
with their minds full of judgement and prejudice.
In the world of pettiness
life is a tournament, and every day is a game
where people show off their skills
and compete for each other’s respect.
They’re always ready to take offence and to take revenge
if they feel slighted or devalued.
The world of pettiness may even seem exciting
full of drama and stimulation
like the center of a city at rush hour.
But if you step inside the world of pettiness
you’ll lose yourself in the noise and stress.
You’ll lose touch with your essence
and lose sight of your purpose.
So live quietly and simply, away from the crazy city.
Be still and self-sufficient
so that your ego doesn’t hanker for attention
or feel wounded by disrespect
Keep your mind above the madness around you.
Let other people think you’re aloof.
Let them hate you if they will.
But only give them love in return.
The featured quote is by Frederick Nietsche, via Goodreads.
“There is a golden thread that runs through every religion in the world. There is a golden thread that runs through the lives of the prophets, seers, sages and saviours in the world’s history, through the lives of all men and women of truly great and lasting power.”
Ralph Waldo Trine
I sometimes like to reread and reflect on books that have resided on my bookshelves for many years. Ralph Waldo Trine‘s book In Tune with the Infinite was inspirational when I read it in 1987. Here was a philosophical and spiritual exposition in readable form that I could relate to and that seemed to make sense. The pages of my copy are now yellowed at the edges, but the text still makes absolute sense. Since its publication in 1899 sales of this book number in the millions, so clearly many agree with this assessment. Notably it was said to have been very influential on one Henry Ford, who created the Ford motor company.
Academically, Trine is now classified as part of the New Thought Movement, which Wikipedia characterises as holding that
Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere
divinity dwells within each person, people are spiritual beings
the highest spiritual principle is loving one another unconditionally
thoughts are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living.
sickness originates in the mind, and “right thinking” has a healing effect.
The magic of Trine’s short (208 pages) book is to bring this down to simple language that is easily comprehended, a true popularization of psychology, philosophy and spirituality. Along the way he explains important concepts such as
the importance of optimism,
the effect of mental attitude and faith in focusing thought into fruition,
the effect of fear as the enemy of life forces,
the effect of thought on healing,
the importance of love,
the finding of one’s own inner spiritual centre,
ignorance and selfishness being at the root of all error,
the corrosive effect of negative thoughts,
living by example,
the importance of the inner guide – conscience, intuition, wisdom,
it is the truth that makes us free,
the refreshing power of sleep,
living according to inner soul direction – not to suit others,
as we sow, so shall we reap,
being a friend to the highest within us.
The basic philosophy and psychological/spiritual guidance in this book are, I think, just as valid today as the day they were written.
Trine’s book continues to give and give to each new generation of readers.
In the 80s I also read Prentice Mulford’s book Thought Forces, which was on similar lines, shorter but less readable.
Some years ago I participated in an interfaith course studying the different major religions. Two features of Buddhism particularly stick in the memory. One was of course mindfulness, the other was the practice of Metta, the subject of this post.
As well as being a subject for meditation, the practice of Metta essentially involves projecting ‘loving kindness’ or ‘universal love’ or ‘benevolence’ out to others. In its ultimate essence Metta is beyond ego and concerns of the individual self; its concern is the wellbeing of all, of life itself.
An exercise of my course was to practise Metta while walking, projecting this benevolence to all you meet. This practice does first require you to be mindful.
It is not surprising that the response of people you meet is more positive than when you are immersed in your own concerns. This is, literally, spreading goodwill around the world.
Worth a try, don’t you think?
Featured image is a Japanese representation of Buddha.