Read an Excerpt
Working on Yourself Doesn't Work3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life
By ARIEL KANE SHYA KANE
McGraw-HillCopyright © 2009 ASK Productions, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHOW TO USE THIS BOOK
The choices we face today are certainly more baffling than they were a hundred years ago, when societal roles were preset and people could blindly follow the cultural prescription. Increasingly, individuals have the power to make their own way. No longer are we living in small communities with few options outside of the standards, mores, and ideals of those around us. With the advent of air travel, we can move great distances in a short period of time. Through television, other cultures and global events appear in our living rooms. Using the Internet, a vast array of information is just a click away, providing us with options and alternatives we would never have come up with on our own. No longer is gender the determining factor when choosing an occupation. As we each travel down our own unique path, questions arise: Is what I am doing right? Am I with the right person? Is this the job for me? Do I want children? Should I move? How can I be sure?
With the myriad of possibilities facing us today, we want to feel confident that our choices are good ones. We want to be strong in ourselves but not rigid. We want to feel that our lives have direction, purpose, and meaning.
Heaven on Earth is happening simultaneously with the way our lives are showing up, right now in this moment. The trick is to be able to access this coexisting state, day in, day out, moment by moment, not just when in pleasant, ideal circumstances.
We read, search, and exchange ideas in hopes of being centered, being productive, and feeling vital. We are looking for something to transform a mundane existence into an exciting, breathtaking adventure, searching for peace of mind, health, and satisfaction. What people pine for in their secret hearts has been described by sages throughout the ages as Enlightenment and Self-Realization. There are other synonyms too—nirvana, waking up, the Great Way, heaven on earth, Christ Consciousness, or realizing your Higher Self.
The two of us have spent the better part of our adult lives in search of the miraculous. We hungered for that state of being wherein satisfaction, self-expression, and creativity reside. We took countless workshops and traveled to be with masters all over the world in search of this elusive state, only to discover that Enlightenment, Self-Realization, and Self-Satisfaction coexist with our present state of being.
In the following pages, we will define the keys that open the door to living in the moment that will facilitate a transformational shift, enabling you to live a more effective, productive, and satisfying life. We will also outline impediments to living in a vitally, alive manner. But first let us present a few concepts that will support you in getting the most out of this book.
PARADOX AND CONFUSION
It has been said that the doors to enlightenment are guarded by two lions. One of the lions represents paradox. As you read on, you may find some ideas seem paradoxical—in other words, it may seem that we are presenting two ideas that are directly in opposition to each other. A paradox is where these two seemingly contradictory ideas can both be true. For example, take the saying "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." One might think if there is water everywhere, of course you could drink it. Yet if you were floating in the middle of the ocean on a raft, this statement would not only be true but also make perfect sense. As you continue reading Working on Yourself Doesn't Work, if you come across ideas that seem to contradict each other, we suggest you hold your disagreement in abeyance and relax around them. As you let the ideas settle in, you may discover an expanded way of seeing that resolves the apparent opposition.
The other lion represents confusion. It is likely that you will find some of the concepts in this book confusing at first. This is a natural process because anything that is new, that is outside your current reality, will not make immediate sense.
There are two main reasons for confusion. The first is when something doesn't fit what is already known, the mind gets confused trying to find a place for it, trying to make it fit, trying to make sense out of it. The second reason is to avoid the domination of the information being presented. In other words, people get confused when information goes against an agenda they are currently holding. For example, the suggestion that you can let go of your past and it no longer has to determine how you live your life today, in this moment, can feel extremely confusing to someone who is determined to prove that his or her parents have caused irreparable damage by their child-rearing techniques. If you are committed to proving a point of view, such as "My parents screwed me up," then confusion is an effective device to avoid giving up that point of view.
In Zen, there is a term beginner's mind. In the beginner's mind there is no preconception of already knowing or having heard something before. There is only the possibility of something new, something heretofore unseen. When reading this, if you could view the information as fresh, and actually hear what we're saying, your whole life could transform in an instant.
LISTENING YOUR WAY TO THE MOMENT
One way to access the moment is to truly hear what others are saying. If you listen newly to each individual conversation, the act of listening can shift your life instantaneously. It does this by pulling you into the moment. And the moment is magic. Transformation happens when one gets into the current moment of now. Here is an example:
A man named Cecil was walking down Second Avenue in Manhattan one Monday evening and noticed our poster announcing an Instantaneous Transformation evening seminar. Intrigued, he came in and joined us. A rather private man, Cecil sat quietly toward the back of the room. Over the course of the evening different people stood and spoke about what was happening in their lives. One of these was a man in his early sixties, Glenn, who asked a question about the Second Principle of Instantaneous Transformation. We will present the Three Principles of Instantaneous Transformation in depth in the chapters ahead, but let us just say here that we were discussing how you can only physically be where you are in any given moment.
During this conversation we talked about how no two things can occupy the same space at the same time; in other words, no two people could be seated in the exact same chair at the exact same moment. In fact, from moment to moment, you can only be where you are and how you are. This includes your body sensations, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and life circumstances. (Again, this is the Second Principle of Instantaneous Transformation.) As the discussion continued, we talked with Glenn about how he could only be standing and having this conversation with us in that moment. He might have the thought he could be in Hawaii, for instance, but in reality he was in New York City. Cecil heard the discussion and had a direct experience of the truth of it.
One week later, Cecil returned. And here is what he had to say: "Hello, Ariel and Shya. Hello, everyone, my name is Cecil and I didn't speak last week but I listened and something remarkable has happened. I feel so free—free in a way that I never felt before. Let me explain: I come from South Africa, and two years ago my mother fell ill and she died and I was unable to be with her. I have had such tremendous guilt, such heaviness and pain. Every day I was so hard on myself that I wasn't there to hold her hand at the time of her passing. I had been berating myself for two years. Suddenly, I heard something you said to Glenn. I simply realized that I could not have been there when my mother died for no other reason than the fact that I wasn't. It wasn't good; it wasn't bad. It just was the truth. I don't know why or how this happened, but the heavy burden spontaneously lifted. I am no longer plagued by guilt. It happened in an instant. I don't understand it, but I guess I don't have to. I am very, very grateful."
If you truly listen to what somebody is saying, not by comparing what he or she is saying to what you already know or agreeing or disagreeing with what is being said, but if you are listening to hear it from the other point of view, this act of listening is enough to pull you into the moment. However, you have an incredibly facile mind. You can race ahead in your thoughts and finish another person's sentence before he or she gets to the point. Or you can take exception to a word he or she uses and stop listening altogether. If you pay attention, you will see that there are many times when you have an internal commentary on what is being said rather than just listening. If you can train yourself to hear what is being said, from the speaker's point of view, it takes you outside of time and into the current moment. This is a magical space where, once accessed, the by-product is Instantaneous Transformation.
The act of listening pulls you into the moment, and the moment is where transformation happens. Transformation is not something that happens in the future; it only happens in the present moment of now. Being fully engaged in an activity pulls you into the moment, which sets the stage for transformation. In the case of this book, we suggest reading without adding anything, such as applying it to your life while reading, agreeing or disagreeing with what is being said, or commenting to yourself as you go. The act of reading will then be akin to truly listening, and it will access the moment, thus creating the possibility of Instantaneous Transformation.
True Listening is actively listening to another with the intention of hearing what is being said from the other's point of view.
When it is grappling with something new or unfamiliar, the mind finds something it already knows, which it perceives as a reasonable facsimile, and then groups the two together. In essence, the mind compares what is new in this moment to its memory bank of moments to help it understand something, to give it a context. This is almost always off target. Comparison limits the possibility of living in the moment. At best, it cuts out the nuances of living, and it is in the nuances where the richness of life is born. At worst, our interpretations are totally inaccurate.
When a friend of ours was little, she heard the song "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean." She had never heard of a "bonnie." It wasn't in her vocabulary. So, instead, she interpreted what she heard as "My body lies over the ocean. My body lies over the sea ..." Hearing the words she thought were part of the song would always bring to her mind images of someone floating on his or her back in the calm blue ocean. Now, as an adult, she realizes that she misinterpreted the lyrics. What seemed similar or the same was not the same at all. Whether we are old or young, our minds still function like that.
Here is another example of how it works. A number of years ago we were in Quepos, Costa Rica, when Marcella told us about her new business. She works at a charter sport fishing company where we had been clients for years. Marcella is a lovely woman with wavy hair and a boisterous nature. We liked to come into her office from time to time and sit in the cool of the air-conditioning and hear tales of what the fleet of sport fishing boats had caught and released in the previous days.
On one such day, she said to us, "You must come to visit me one evening at my new business! My boyfriend and I have opened a new topless bar. It is up the hill in Manuel Antonio."
She looked so proud. We were surprised.
"Do your bosses here know that you run a topless bar?"
"Oh, yes!" she exclaimed. "Maria and Patricio are two of our best customers."
We looked at each other. How could this be? We knew the owners of the fishing company were Italian, and perhaps they were more liberal than we knew. She made a topless bar sound so normal, sort of like going to McDonald's or Applebee's.
Trying not to let our eyes dip to her chest as we imagined the scene, one of us tactfully asked, "Do you work at the bar?"
"Oh, yes, I do. Mainly weekends but often on weeknights also. We're getting very busy. You can see our restaurant on the right, just after you pass the Barba Roja restaurant. Look for it and come in. I'll give you a free drink. We have all sorts of typical Costa Rican finger foods. You'll like it. You can bring your groups too."
We had a hard time imagining bringing the participants from one of our Self-Discovery Adventures to a topless bar, but we did our best to be gracious.
We left the fishing office that day amazed that there was a topless bar near the tiny fishing village. We had been going there for years, and, although there were many drinking establishments, sports bars, and eateries, we had never heard of or seen such a thing.
As our taxi took us up the hill to our hotel we scanned the roadside for any sign of Marcella's new topless bar, but we didn't see a thing. Several trips up and down that road didn't reveal its whereabouts even though she claimed it was easy to find.
The next week we went into the fishing office for the recent news and sat once again in front of Marcella. The conversation took an unexpected turn.
"I looked for you last week at my restaurant," she said.
"Yes, we looked for the sign but didn't see it."
"I was hoping you would come in for some tapas."
"Tapas? What are tapas?"
Marcella looked confused. "Tapas," she said. "You know, tapas bar or finger food bar. Food you eat with your fingers. That's what we serve. Tapas is the Costa Rican word for finger food. Obviously that's why we call it a tapas bar."
We burst out laughing and explained the joke. She had been saying tapas, which we heard as topless since we hadn't heard this word before. Our mental computers just filled in with what they knew as a reasonable facsimile. When we asked her about her topless bar, that word was so outside of her reality, she filled in with what she expected to hear, tapas.
As we left that day, we thought it was a good joke and an excellent example of how we only know what we know and how anything that is outside of our reality doesn't even exist. It also showed us how three people who were sincerely trying to communicate with each other could so totally and utterly misinterpret what was said.
Chapter TwoWHERE ARE YOU?
Let's say you don't know where you are in New York City and you want to get to 72nd Street and Broadway. You can look at a road map and you can find out where Broadway and 72nd cross, but that alone won't help you. First you have to know where you are. If you don't know where you are in this moment, you'll never find where you want to be.
The starting point is to discover where you are. And then, when you know where you are in this moment, something can shift. This takes a degree of surrender to how the circumstances in your life are showing up.
When you are in water, if you relax, it floats you. If you struggle, if you tense up, you sink and drown. Well, it's that way with life.
If you are present with what's happening in your life in each moment, life supports you totally. But if you are worrying about possible futures, you're not present. It's as if you're breathing in when you're underwater. You sink and drown. That's why many people's lives feel overwhelming to them. It is a function of trying to live their life right rather than noticing who they're with, what they're doing, where they are in their life in this moment.
Noticing or neutrally observing your life without trying to manipulate or change what you see is actually the essence or key component of Instantaneous Transformation. Another word for this nonjudgmental seeing is awareness.
You don't need to work on yourself. In order to be fulfilled, feel deeply satisfied, and live life to its fullest it is essential that you learn just to notice, to be aware.
What it takes to wake up or transform is to bring awareness to whatever is going on in your life in the moment. "Bringing awareness" does not mean you have to do something with what you become aware of. You don't have to do anything about it. You don't have to fix it or change it. You simply have to be aware.
As simple as it is, this is a hard concept for people to understand, because usually when people see something about themselves that they perceive as negative, they judge it and don't like it and try to change it. This is not awareness. Awareness is neutral.
Awareness is a non-judgmental seeing. It is an objective, noncritical seeing or witnessing of the nature or "isness" of any particular circumstance or situation. It is an ongoing process in which you are bringing yourself back to the moment, rather than complaining silently about what you perceive as wrong or what you would prefer.
Excerpted from Working on Yourself Doesn't Work by ARIEL KANE SHYA KANE Copyright © 2009 by ASK Productions, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.