What I learned

What I learned from these four great inspirators

This is updated by me from time to time, as is everything in life

I learned from Wolinsky that there's a real you, and lots of fake you's. Some bigger, some smaller. Wolinsky talks about them in singular, but I believe in plurals

As Jesus came into this world "wrapped in clothes" according to Luke, many people had many plans with you before you were born, heck, maybe even before you were conceived

Just some examples:
Your then-not-yet-grandmother maybe wanted to become a grandmother, probably longing for a girl. Your then-not-yet-grandfather maybe wanted to become a grandfather, probably longing for a girl. Or a boy. Who knows
Your father had plans with you, wanting a son he could go fishing with in the morning. Your mother wanted a girl that could become the ballet dancer she never became
Your sister wanted a baby sister to play with, your brother wanted a baby girl to play with too, not liking the idea of a rival boy getting all or most of the attention

All these people, they all had plans with you, even before they knew you

That's why the Jesus of Thomas says Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being.And When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid

Because you take off the clothes people put on your bed for you to wear. You peel off the identities you took on in this life, thus getting back to the original you: the pure You

How can you do that? Take off your clothes, unlearn what you've learned? Can you even do that? I mean a lot of that stuff is put into your head by others, isn't it?

Epictetus shows the differences between what is in your control, and what isn't. He shows the importance of things - what is yours, and what isn't. Very little is yours, really. Only things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions
Of course that doesn't mean you're supposed to push away everything that isn't. Just be aware, of what it is. An apple is not an orange, nor is an orange an apple. But you may like them both, even simultaneously. Just don't mistake apples for oranges.
Don't take a stand on either, you don't have to choose between them, just because they're different
And, most importantly, Epictetus points out: men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. It's all in the mind. You're only perceiving things. We all are. Only perceiving things. That's why we have different ideas about the exact same things: we look at them differently. However, respect people for what they perceive (and that includes yourself). Don't be a wiseguy - as much as your perception is your truth, other people's perception is their truth (which of course they call the truth, as do you)

It's not the door that's hurting you. You ran into it, fine. But it's the wound on your head now that's aching, and giving you pain. Kicking and blaming the door won't help much - although it will help to distract your attention, yes indeed...

Every thought in your head is yours. It doesn't matter how it got there, it's there now, and only you can deal with it. No one else on this earth and in this life has access to these thoughts but you. All these thoughts together form your Life, your Truth, your Future. And that's simply how it is

That is what Don Miguel Ruiz calls the Dream of the Planet. Our collective perception of this Earth, this Life. What we call Universe. Isn't that the most perfect evidence of how self-centered we are? Calling this place Uni-verse, like we know for sure there's only one of them? You know, that's one step up from calling the earth flat, and claiming the sun evolves around the earth. Universe. Uh-huh

Although there's nothing wrong with being self-centered of course, it just depends on your definition of Self. False Core, False Self: dismiss them both, find your true Self, and be as selfish as you can. Please please please, be as Selfish as you can once you know your true Self

We all live in a dream, we are only perceiving things. Since before birth we are perceiving, and a lot of perceptions we got from others - but that is just history. Don't take anything personally: you're not the centre of the Universe. Taking things personally is all about personal importance, and it's the most egotistic thing to do

Nothing that other people do is because of you, it's always because of themselves
  • When someone smiles, it's not because of you
  • When someone looks angry, it's not because of you
  • When someone smiles at you, it's not because of you
  • When someone looks angry at you, it's not because of you
All that is because of themselves: it is they who decided to do so, and do so

The same is true for yourself: don't believe everything you think. Don't take your thoughts personally
  • If you think you're ugly, that's just a thought in your head
  • If you think you're omnipotent, that's just a thought in your head
  • If you think someone is evil, that's just a thought in your head
  • If you think someone is god, that's just a thought in your head
In the same way that you take your own assumptions personally, other people do the same. Ideas you hold about yourself to be true, are false.
And Wolinsky teaches it's not good enough to just do the perfect opposite of everything you perceive: that is only fulfilling the prophecy of the False Core and False Self.

It is actually this what really set me off in the right direction: if your actions are only re-actions to other actions, you'll never overcome anything. You're not the driver, you're the driven, eternally in defensive mode, continuously attacking because that's the best defence, they say...
Constantly swinging from one outer end of the scale to the other, or some place in between, to the left of the middle, the right of the middle, etcetera...

Then again I had been changing the rules to the game so many times for so many years, and still kept ending up losing - there had to be something wrong with the game itself. It's that very notion that made me persist in my goal: there must be some kind of way out of here...

There is no scale. No need to swing from left to right within that scale, because there is no scale. Just like there is no spoon

Here's how I state it:

Most, if not everything of what you do is not an action, but a re-action to another action
That very other action once was that pure action itself, but now all that's left is your perception of that action. It's an image in your mind that formed within nanoseconds once you witnessed the action
That very image isn't an exact copy of the action; it went through your perception first.
You clad that witnessed action with clothes, you viewed it from within your strongest I-dentities, you replaced it by associations, you labeled it with judgements, you dreamed it into your own Dream
The action is long gone already, but the image is there in your mind, forever. All your actions will 'emerge' from out of that image in your mind - although you think you're re-acting to the (long gone) action

Want to second-opinion that? Ask someone else what they think of 'that situation'. Ask someone else what they think of 'that person'. Ask someone else what they think 'should be done'

Of course, such an image can be lovely, nice, positive, good, whatever. But usually, the images that haunt you are not so lovely

Such an image can start out small, like a nuisance. That nuisance, if neglected, might turn into frustration: a slightly larger image with a greater presence, that attracted more of your attention and energy, and has thus grown in size
That frustration might be left alone for a while. Like mildew, that frustration needs just basic living conditions in order to survive, not even light. And believe me, it usually survives for a very, very long time. During that time, it will nibble at you, taking bits of attention and energy, trying to grow
That frustration might get reinforced by being repeatedly confronted with the same conditions that created it, and make it thrive. It will get reinforced, thus becoming stronger and stronger, and its force will become so great, that it will turn into anger. Anger about being repeated, copied and cloned so many times. That anger is so strong that it will greatly distract you by taking large parts of your attention and energy. If very strong, everything you perceive will first be judged by that anger. Were you ever 'overcome by anger'? It is that kind of anger, that powerfull

That anger, if neglected, will grow and grow as well. Its force is so great that it will not go away without an equal counterforce. It has become very strong now, and resisting it is hard. Eventually, that anger will become hate. And that hate will destroy you

This is why I find hate so awful, painful and destructive: when you hate someone, it's not the person itself that receives all that hate, it's you! You, yourself. You mostly express your hate towards the image in your mind, not towards the physical person. And that image resides within you. You clothe that image with ridicule, you loathe it, spit on it, drag it through the mud. You put your venomous anger into it, your daggers of despise - and then carry that image around with you forever
Now who's really suffering most from hate?

That's why Jesus told to love your enemies. Love your neighbour. Love your Self. The sad, sad truth is, that we do love our enemies like ourselves, as we are afraid of, or even hate (parts of) ourselves...
Imaginary voyages is what we undertake on a daily basis. We live (in) a dream, yet take everything personally and feel offended by most that we don't like.
We try to control what's not in our control: our body, our lover, our boss, the weather, the lottery, pretty much everything. We get frustrated by wanting to control all that, yet failing to do so: we have to blame someome for that!

We blame our body for being so fat, we blame our lover for not always loving us, we blame our boss for not always giving us promotion. We blame the weather when it rains and we want to play outside, we blame the weather when the sun shines and we get a sunburn, we blame the lottery for not giving us a prize.
We blame all those, and all that, but deep inside we know it's silly what we do.
Deep inside, we blame ourselves
We blame ourselves for being so fat, we blame ourselves for not always being loved, we blame ourselves for not getting a promotion. We blame ourselves for not doing whatever it was we wanted to do when the weather was fit for doing so, we blame ourselves for not winning the lottery

We take all that failing personally. And blame ourselves again for that. And we are very afraid to fail: that's why and where we overcompensate.
We'll either start to eat more and more and exercise less, and say that we are fat because we choose to be so, or we'll exercise and starve ourselves into obsession.
We'll either start to people-please, and do whatever we think our lover wants us to do, or we'll break the relationship and say that we choose to not be loved.
We'll either start to suck up big time, and 'do whatever it takes' to get a promotion, or we'll purposely fail at our job and upset our boss so we can say we choose to not get a promotion.
We'll either start to say we don't care that it e.g. rains on our picnic, or just stay inside and mumble something about being sensitive to sun and rain.
We'll either start to buy lottery tickets like crazy or just abstain from participating, claiming we don't like the unfair idea of a lottery.

The outer ends of the scale. Somehow we always have to choose sides, and that's what makes us end up at either end of the scale. We have many scales in our lives, about 15-20 main ones I'd say, some bigger some smaller. I-dentities is what Stephen Wolinsky calls them, clothes is what Jesus called them, they are the False Selves you've developed to cope with the main representatives and representations of society around you.

We do all this crazy stuff. Probably not all these exact examples, but we do try to justify our actions and ourselves, all the time. Because we fail at trying to achieve what we (think that we) want so badly, we feel wrong. And we want to be right. So, as we can't change the outcome, we change the definition of the game, our perception of our reality, and make ourselves believe that we want to fail, because we choose so. And because we choose so, we are in control. And being in control makes us winners. There we have it! We are winners. And in control. And right. Above all, we are right...

We then tell others our new-found 'truth'. And the sad, sad thing is, that the so-called Reality of which we changed our Perception, wasn't reality. It was our perception...

False Core, False Self: this is how they work. They're just images, perceptions, and both false. Apparently real to you, but just parasites that have been with you for a long, long time. They're feeding on your energy, and you can easily kill them by cutting off that energy supply. How? Understand their working, and just stop believing in them. Don't take them personally. Your belief created them, and keeps them alive. You can kill them without a sword, just by thought - by depriving them of your thoughts

What remains, is your true Self. Maybe you can't even define what that is, other than that you're just basically a nice being that wants to have fun and play. The most important part of the journey however is that you recognise the Selves you created for others

Be like Epictetus, know what is yours, and what isn't. Take a loving distance from that which isn't, by not taking anything personally, like Don Miguel Ruiz. Don't hate it or flee from it, just become passers-by, like the Jesus of Thomas says. Don't view it as your own, but just as travelers view a hotel, as Epictetus teaches. Don't assume you know what others feel or do, they live in their dream, perfectly separated from ours

See through the fog, through the Dream. Make the two one, like Jesus says. Dream your own dream, like Don Miguel says. Blow your False Core, like Stephen Wolinsky says. Let whatever appears to be the best be to you an inviolable law, like Epictetus says

How to do that? Don't take anything personally. No actions, but certainly no thoughts should be taken personally. Take one thought at a time, and for every thought in your mind, ask yourself:

Are you true? Or am I just imagining you?

Love, Engage,


8 reacties:

Cocos Butter said...

I wish more were as spiritual as you are! Great perspective!

Jaygaddis said...

Awesome brother!!!

Anonymous said...

Heb je hier ook een Nederlandse vertaling van. Zou het graag eens helemaal kunnen lezen en bevatten.

eva.santisteban said...

Quite complex reading! You are cooking lots of thoughts here!.
I’d really like to think that there is an authentic “I”, but my viewpoint is not as romantic…
Here is:
-We are not aware of all the influences that others do on our personality and so in our actions (that always are re-actions to previous actions).
We are a product of interactions and unfortunately are following the way that is the result of the multiple interests that surround us. –

How can we reach our “true Self” if we are living in society? ….
And in the case we suppose that there is a “true Self”…How can we stop taking things personally, when the maximum expression of a human is the perception of itself thinking and directing itself?

This sounds like a cognitive dissonance that is quite dangerous state of mind.

Sorry but I don’t have conclusion.. I’m also cooking these questions, and in the way…Questioning everything for collecting more info to process in the circle…

Thank you for sharing all the stuff!

Martijn Linssen said...

Hi Eva, thank you very much! I'll try to make it less complex, which probably means more explanation

Why do you think the maximum expression of a human is the perception of itself thinking and directing itself?

You're taking things personally there. After reading your comment I decided to expand on 'taking things personally' as it's apparently not as clearly described as it should be

On the upside:
We can become aware of all the influences (...)
We can stop following the way that (...)

I'd like to know what you mean by "quite dangerous state of mind" by the way!

Lose your perception of what a human is, and think of what is possible rather than what are "facts"

eva.santisteban said...

Complex means good!, at least if we are treating philosophical questions..
There are lots of complex questions with no less complex answers let me try to give my opinion of some..

What we are?, we are some muscles, bones, veins.. for sure that your answer is "- No, we are more than that! -". Ok!
Then, my next question is related with the reality. When a person is aware of what is real in her environment? -When he/she perceives this reality.
Considering this, when are we aware of our personality? – “..” – So, the maximum expression of a human being is when is watching at herself and saying.. That's me!, and this is my own choice!.

In case of “dissonance”, a dangerous state of mind means “doubt caused by contradiction”, but in this case I’m starting to think that I didn’t understand so much the meaning of you post.

And about the last question.. uff, that’s really a hard work. Not being focused on the facts is like jumping with a parachute. I’ve been thinking on reading something about Buddhism to make this kind of exercises…(I’m not joking!).

HÃ¥var Fredriksen said...

You’re an awesome writer Martijn. Awsome.

Martin said...


Great column, great summary of the insights I'm just beginning to understand.

Thanks for writing this!


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