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Your Unfolding Path
June 2000

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Carol's Current Column

by Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.

Carol Adrienne's work and teachings have been a great inspiration to me!  In August of 1998, about four months after my father passed away, I read about one of Carol's workshops in a Learning Annex catalog and synchronistically found her book on a bookshelf at the bookstore.  The themes of her teachings were familiar and comforting, as they confirmed the thoughts and ideas my father had shared with me shortly before his passing.  Her books and workshops ignited my spiritual curiosity, setting me on my soulful life path, which led to the very creation of SoulfulLiving.com!  Carol's participation has been an integral part of SoulfulLiving.com, at its soul level!  Thank you, Carol, with all my heart!
~Valerie, Founder and Soul, SoulfulLiving.com

"Change Yourself, Change the World"

I am excited to tell you about a very practical and inspirational book that, I believe, if followed, really will change your life and change the world. It’s called The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life by Geshe Michael Roach, a Princeton graduate, business man, ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk, and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism.

In this fascinating book, Geshe Michael tells us the story of how he applied the ancient wisdom of Buddhism to the everyday, practical demands of the diamond business, and exactly what we can do to create similar success in our own lives. "One rule my Tibetan Lama had given me about going to work in a normal business office was that I keep quiet about being a Buddhist. I was to wear my hair at normal length (rather than shaved), and dress in normal clothes. Whatever Buddhist principles I used in my work had to be applied quietly, without any announcement or fanfare. I was to be a Buddhist sage on the inside, and a normal American businessman on the outside." The company for which he worked, Andin International, grew from a $50,000 loan to annual sales in excess of one hundred million dollars.

Geshe Michael’s real life anecdotes and observations during his work in the diamond industry in New York City illuminate exactly what the Buddha was trying to teach his students 2500 years ago about the nature of reality. Most of us are familiar with the idea that we create our own reality, but even so we’re not always sure how it works. We still look out at our world and believe that we are being impacted by things we don’t want, didn’t ask for, and judge to be bad. We feel helpless in the moment when someone is yelling at us, or when we watch TV and see an onslaught of dangerous situations and events. Did we create those explosions in the Middle East? Did we create cancer? What is going on here?

In my own life and studies I have had a hard time trying to understand the idea of "formlessness" or "emptiness" that Buddhism teaches. Now I get it.

There are two key points in the book, which are central to the whole philosophy: hidden potential and mental imprints.

  • Hidden potential. Things and people and events are neutral.
    There are no inherent qualities in anything. Any thing or event is, in reality, empty. Anything, such as, for example, the purchase of a new building, appears to be good for those who benefit from it, and appears to be bad from those who are hurt by it. Everything offers, therefore, only hidden potential. Things could go either way. Sometimes people will do something to you that seems bad, but another person looking on might see this action as okay or even good. It all depends on how you are looking at it. This reminds me of my favorite Zen story about the farmer who lost his horse and runs up to the Zen master to tell him about the horse running away. The master says, "It could be good. It could be bad." The story goes along with several other happenings that could be good and could be bad, ending with a supposed "bad" outcome saving the life of the farmer’s son.
  • How we look at it depends on our past mental imprints.
    This is another way of saying that we create our own reality. If your boss is angry and blaming you, you are forced to see this reality because in the past you have burned an imprint of anger and blame into your mind (where it lives and grows in the subconscious until it pops out in various situations like this one). Everything in our present moment is there because we are forced to see it that way based on our past experience, beliefs, and imprints.
  • We can change our future by not burning more imprints of blame, criticism, and anger into our minds in the present.
    Once an event is rolling, it’s very hard to change the momentum that has built up and is unfolding. The only way we can change the future is by not responding with anger in the moment, so that we do not create any future occurrences of anger. We use the present moment to become aware, and learn how to shift our choices away from the habitual patterns that are creating our present. This takes time!

Geshe Michael writes, "Think about the people…who irritate you the most. They seem to have a quality or nature of being irritating, from their own side. ‘Irritating-ness’ seems to be emanating or flowing from them toward you. Think about it though. Someone (perhaps another employee, perhaps someone in their family…) finds them very loving and lovable people…. Apparently there is no ‘irritating-ness’ flowing from these people to them—which very simply proves that this is not a quality within the people themselves….they are, rather, like blank screens, neutral, and different people see different things in them. This is a very simple and undeniable proof of emptiness, or hidden potential. And everything else in the world is the same."

I have given you just a taste of the applicable wisdom in this book, and I hope that you will be moved to read it and see what you think. Synchronistically this morning, I received a request for a consultation from a young woman I’ll call Vera. She had the following question: "The thing is I get so upset when I see all the injustice in the world and it seems to affect me more than others." How would you help her to see this differently now? What kind of mental imprints is she perpetuating?

Carol Adrienne, Ph.D., is an internationally-known workshop facilitator and author whose books have been translated into over fifteen languages. Her books include The Purpose of Your Life: Finding Your Place in the World Using Synchronicity, Intuition, and Uncommon Sense; The Purpose of Your Life Experiential Guide, and The Numerology Kit. She also co-authored with James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy: An Experiential Guide and The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision--An Experiential Guide.

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