Gina Stoner has spent the past fifteen years as a featured speaker at corporate seminars as well as conducting individual groups on the subject of effective living. Her approach is far removed from the predictable positive thinking and self-promotional gee-ups found in most business manuals and sales force boosting presentations. That is why in her unusual book (Talks With Al—available from Buzzword) her radical suggestions come disguised as a teenage fable. We asked Gina to write us an article based on one of her seminar subjects. She refused but came up with what follows. Note: don’t miss the special offer at the end of this post.
People want many things: status, security, sexual fulfillment, health, power and adulation. So money, possessions, celebrity are worshipped beyond the point of sanity.
Wants are related to fear and both fear and hope drain life energy. Yet it’s rarely understood how off-centre hope can be. The effective person cannot afford to be weakened by hope.
Hope is projection, not fact. And effective living must be built on fact.
The effective person has one possibility – to stay precisely with how things are. No elaboration, evasion deviation. No agenda or opinion. Because any need, expectation or fear tips us from the present back into time.
The fabled “zone”.
You will have heard about athletes who attempt to “stay in the zone”. The phrase is an attempt to explain a moment when they are able to do what is needed supremely well. In this “zone” it is impossible to have inner distraction at all. The prerequisite is to be purposeless or, as a Taoist might express it, “empty”. The empty person has the possibility of seeing things exactly as they are instead of through the mired lens of wants, opinions, resentments and beliefs. All these have to be removed from the equation for the response to be total and effective.
If you’ve studied transpersonal psychology or gestalt, you may have come across the term “being in the moment”.
Being in the moment means to be free of our entire personal psychology.
To be entirely in the moment, we must effectively not be here at all. Because, at a level superior to our usual mundane mode of existence—everything is paradox. To “be here” is not to exist!
How does a Zen master order a hot dog in New York?
“One with everything.”
(Often a joke conveys more than a ponderous explanation.)
Can we be purposefully purposeless?
No. Unfortunately, purposelessness is not something we can acquire. A transformation is needed before it can even be approached.
And, at this point, the half interested listeners turn away. Because they want something they can “do” – put in their pocket, label. Anything else is seen as snake oil. Unfortunately, all our “doing” is Pavlovian—reaction.
So simple things are difficult. Because, unless we can reconcile such explanations with our inner experience, we can’t approach the last five steps as all depend on the first.
We have been discussing step one. And, already, there are objections. So there is scant possibility of elaborating what comes next. But here, for those who get the gist, is a brief outline of what comes next.
The six steps:
These are: And their mnemonic:
1. Disassociation Free
2. Assimilation See
3. Solidity Be
4. Pretence or dissembling Agree
5. Optimization Degree
6. Resetting Key
Taking them in order:
1. The first step, as explained, is only possible when we understand that there is more to living than outcomes. To abandon hope and concern is certainly difficult, but essential if we wish to see what is in front of us clearly. So this first step is attitudinal and comes before the thought.
2. The way to consolidate step one is to become aware of the personal force field—the solidity and energy of the body. Without this, step one will be momentary–unable to persist. There is a mantra: “mind nowhere, body everywhere”. Good as far as it goes, which isn’t very far because shorthand expressions are no substitute for experience. And both these preliminary steps may cost years of practice and failure. This approach begins with various methods and ends with the abandonment of methods. And only with these two steps in place, is anything more possible.
3. To see is an art. It is not cognition but assimilation and, for most people, far from simple. Much is needed at this point, including lack of fear.
4. With the challenge evaluated, the next step is to meet it. But this cannot happen without steps 1 and 2. And, because the first and second steps are unnatural, and sensed as unnatural by those around us, pretence is needed to calm and misdirect those we deal with. The left hand must not know what the right hand is doing or resentments and suspicions assail us on every side.
5. So, covertly, we attempt to meet the challenge. But the challenge may be too great. The effort, at this stage, is to do the best with what confronts us, realizing that any initiative, no matter how adroitly handled, can only progress so far. However, the odds of achieving an aim are increased by multiple failures. Call them fresh attempts if you wish. So we will only advance as far as impinging factors permit. Despite “The Secret” and other plausible marketing deceptions designed to gull the naive, the heavens do not open because we believe they will. Random events can’t be predicted. And “luck” is often the lack of them.
6. Now we have tackled whatever is in front of us with all our might. No one can do more and satisfaction is in that, not the outcome. Now we leave the fighting of yesterday’s war to yesterday’s generals and accept. For things to move again, such non-attachment is vital. We may have a plan B or face a completely new situation. Whatever the prospects, everything must again be dropped—the slate wiped clean—to begin again at step 1.
Talks with Al is available from Buzzwords at just $2.99. Click here: buzzwordbooks.com