You are not Helpless
Terrorist attacks in Nairobi, deadly rioting in Mombassa, daily news reports of violent crimes. Our usual response is anger, desire for revenge, or unbearable sadness. The average person feels helpless to do anything about the situation. But it is not true. We are not helpless. Each of us has the power, right now, to start turning the tide.
The Stress of Daily Life
The extremes of violence like those cited above have a strong affect on us, but they are not even the main concerns facing most of us most of the time. Earning enough money to live, trying to get ahead in the face of bureaucracy and corruption, educating our children and keeping them out of trouble, staying healthy, caring for our elders, worry over our relationships, these are the things that we deal with in daily life, and these also create anxiety and stress that can feel too much for us. Again, it does not have to be true. It need not be too much for us. We can start right away to turn things around.
Take Responsibiltiy for your Life and your World
The first step on the path of growth is a change of attitude. Usually, we look outside of ourselves for change. We look to our civic and political leaders to make things better. We call on them to change things so that we feel more secure, and have more opportunities for better lives. Then again we can pray to God to make things different. We also look to our bosses, our parents, our spouses, our children or our friends and think, "if only they would behave differently". We can try to use force, or bribery, or make bargains. But this is not likely to make a very long lasting difference. There is not very much we can do to get others to make changes. No, if you really want a better life, if you wish to live in a better world, then there is only one person you need to look to, and that is yourself. Changing society can only begin by changing yourself. In short, you must engage in Personal Development.
What is Personal Development?
The dictionary tells us that development means the process of bringing out capabilities or possibilities, of bringing about a more advanced or effective state, of causing to grow or expand. So personal development is this process as applied to one’s self. There are many approaches to personal development. For instance in the business world there are many theories of how people develop skills to become better workers and managers. Then again in the education sphere there are many methods to do with how learning takes place aimed at the development of the intellect. Psychology offers a number of modalities centred on developing relationship skills, often in order to help people to cope with psychological difficulties. And of course the world’s religions offer ethical and spiritual guidance that focus on life’s ultimate meaning.
Decide to Grow!
From the moment we are born we begin to develop. Our muscles grow, we learn to walk, we learn to communicate, we develop basic social skills, etc. This much happens almost automatically, even in the animal kingdom. Mother Nature takes all of us this far, but then we are left on our own. At this point any further growth is up to us, we must take responsibility for our further development. It becomes a choice we have to make.
Personal Development Program
Our program looks at personal development in the following way:
Daily Life is your Practice
Our method presents a set of practices and reflections that draw upon a number of different methodologies and traditions, and which spring from the personal experience of those who have worked intensely on themselves. They are also very simple and can be practiced in the course of your daily life. We also make it a point that everything we present can be taken up by anyone regardless of his or her spiritual or cultural beliefs.
Love and Wisdom
The method is divided into two sections, developing the root qualities of Love and Wisdom as mentioned above. By Love, we mean a non-exclusive and intense desire for the happiness and well being of all life. It is also freely given, does not look to be compensated in return, does not even need to be reciprocated. By Wisdom we mean something more than intellect or book learning. We mean a deep understanding of ourselves, as well as a skill in applying Love in our interactions with others. So working to cultivate these twin qualities is the essence of development.
Section 1. Developing our Capacity for Love
There is a great quote from Nelson Mandela; “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” This is a fitting introduction to the Personal Development Program presenting a positive image of our natural capacity for love. Let’s look at a few very simple ways to do this.
Section II. Cultivating our Wisdom
As we mentioned, wisdom here does not mean book learning or intellectual prowess. Rather, it is an intimate understanding of our self, combined with a skill in applying love and kindness in our actions. Knowing one's self is not as easy as one might suppose. It has been said that we are three people; how we see ourselves, how others see us, and what in reality we really are. We all have ‘blind spots’, things we can’t really see about ourselves. We can also spot this in others; “so and so doesn’t realise that she gets on people’s nerves with how much she babbles on ” or “so and so doesn’t know he has a drinking problem”.
Likewise, learning how to act out of love to best effect is a skill to learn. It is well said that ‘it falls to the wise to undo the harm done by the merely good’. Acting out of good intentions is essential, but we need wisdom to balance the love. A parent may out of love spoil their child for instance. Our program details practical ways to develop our Wisdom.