Principles of Divine Living: Creating Your Reality
Ours has become a world where we invest a significant amount of time and energy in attempting to align our realities with our thoughts and imaginations. A large segment of the world’s population considers that whatever can be visualized can be actualized. In other words, if you can think of it, you can make it happen. What however seems lost to many in this process of evolution into visionary beings is that there is something deeply spiritual about the ability to channel one’s innate energy towards the achievement of goals. Stop for a moment and think about it. If self-actualization only required the adoption of a positive outlook, most of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants would be successful, according to established standards. We could, given that logic, change our lives once we change our thoughts.
Taken in proper context, dreaming is most certainly a great phenomenon. The human mind is a very productive zone of man’s consciousness. Think of it as a factory, where a large variety of virtual products, good and bad, are created, often out of nothing. One of the most beautiful and divine attributes of the human mind is that it is as secure as the host of the owner chooses to make it. That is why biblical King Solomon, the greatest sage of all times advises us to guard our hearts, “with all diligence” because it is the source of “the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). At the mind’s level of consciousness, you create and control your own space. In the seclusions of your mind, deep within your innermost recesses, you could construct the most pristine and lofty dreams with little or no interference. As the images form, they attain potential and, once energized, are progressively translated into tangible opportunities. That, I believe, is why success can just as easily alight on a hitherto unsuccessful individual once the thought processes are properly aligned and energized. Success is not biased towards personalities and thus every human being has the potential to make it a reality.
On our journey to greatness, the first and paramount thing is an appreciation of the truth as established by divine rules. This is distinct and different from facts, which can be constrained by physical boundaries. Whilst the truth never changes, boundaries of facts do shift and are often adjusted. Just as the concept of success and failure is largely relative, greatness in and of itself is a time-dependent comparison of one’s estate or situation to another’s. Many potential heroes remain unsung simply because they failed to attain their full potential. They benchmarked themselves against the wrong cluster of stars. It has been proven that if our environment and/or peers do not challenge us to attain more lofty heights, we would gravitate into our comfort zone and remain there. Very little incentive for nobler attainments is on offer in any individual’s comfort zone. Subsequently, stagnation by default, in an increasingly dynamic world will eventually lead to retrogression.
Permit me to illustrate with the real-life experience of someone I had the privilege of counseling a few years back. This individual had gravitated into a dark place in his life where, though he could be described as a successful individual, he was not making ends meet. Many things fell short and he was constantly having to supplement what was, at most, a modest lifestyle. His mantra for success at the time was based on a wrong premise and he, unconsciously, lowered the success threshold and therefore succumbed to lower standards. Though he had regressed into a state of defeat, he still carried on as if all was well. His greatest enemy and Achilles’ heel was his mind in a state of denial. He limited his potential, albeit unconsciously, by constraining his reality with the wrong parameters. Putting it in simpler language, he placed his limit in “success” and it took two years of counseling to awaken his mind to the fresh images required to feed his consciousness and produce the game-changer. The mind is a therapeutic source of regenerative solutions and can produce the foundation for positive change when it is most required. But it will take a conscious desire for change to reactivate a mind that has relapsed into a permanent daydream.
If you ever feel like you are spinning your wheels and need some traction, your process of recovery must start with the simple realization that you can make your reality. Beyond that, you must remain steadfast and sure, that the room will be made available in the realm of the unseen for you. There is a niche out there specially dimensioned for you. I could add one more thing for your benefit, seeing as I cannot claim never to have taken a wrong turn in life nor made the wrong decisions. When journeying through life, all you can wish and pray for is to know the right thing to do at the right time and depend on your experiences and the Divine to guide you in your choices. Hindsight is always 20–20 vision and, most often, the quality of a decision is only clear after all the facts and the outcomes are established, not before. When the errors of your ways are revealed, we must bounce back with a zeal that will serve us well on the rest of our journey. Lessons learned must remain seared into our psyche to help focus our energy daily. Never again allow your mind to shift into neutral gear. Keep dreaming and making your reality.
Each individual is confronted with the question of relevance and, much to our discomfort, the seemingly unavoidable reduction in personal ability to make a positive and laudable impact in a performance-driven world, over time. The effect of the attendant shift in dynamics is thought-provoking as we come face to face with what is considered a failure. Oftentimes, severe negative consequences such as depression are observed especially where this is accompanied by a reduction in the standard of living and quality of health.
The overarching truth about life, as most visionaries eventually find out, is that the ability to transform a vision into tangible success is dependent not only on our innate abilities but on the favorable alignment of the forces that regulate our existence to make room for us to succeed in life. “No man is an island” is a familiar statement in counseling, used to drive home the point that every individual needs help either to support their efforts or to pull them up when they are down. As a child, I had resolved in my mind that every adversity has an expiry date attached to it and that all would be well in the long run. Nevertheless, as I grew older, the unending nature of adversity seemed to loom even larger. The larger it loomed, the more I needed help beyond what I could render to myself. I simply needed help. And so do we all, as part of the overall process of human advancement.
The point was made a few sentences back that self-actualization required more than a positive outlook in life. Not everyone subscribes fully to the “if you can think it, you can make it happen” ideology. Norman Vincent Peale could very well be described as the modern-day protagonist of Positive Thinking but he brings both an intellectual and religious perspective to the subject. Therein lies a paradox or what could probably be described as a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, we can convince ourselves it is good to dream because what can be visualized can probably be actualized. On the other hand, we would undoubtedly open ourselves up to considerable risk by trying to actualize the foolish and bizarre, if we allowed our imagination to go delirious. Wisdom dictates, and I concur resolutely with King Solomon’s conclusion, that, “in the multitude of dreams there are vanities”. In other words, dreams originate from diverse sources, largely vain. We might conclude, therefore, that dreams are probably not always infallible.
What exactly is success and to what extent should we go to attain this golden fleece? Perhaps the progressive decrease in environmental control and lack of emphasis on appropriate social behavior are reasons why succeeding generations are seemingly and progressively non-conformist. Is it any wonder then that the definition of success and the boundary parameters appear somewhat distorted? Take reality television programming for example. It daily presents what is supposedly unscripted live drama which is meant to engender an environment for healthy entertainment and competition. It is, theoretically, a platform to project life and living in its raw and unadulterated form. However, a sizeable portion of the public would describe some or all of the offerings as a bizarre absurdity.
This genre of TV programming, though in existence since the early days of TV broadcasting, became a global phenomenon in the late ’90s. The success of aggressively competitive, no holds barred reality shows such as Big Brother and Survivor series, as opposed to the talent-based entertainment variety such as American Idols, X-Factor, and more recently, The Voice is noteworthy. The hype generated over such shows is fueled by the fact that we are often more interested in what happens in the life of the less or more fortunate competitors. This mentality prevents us from ever noticing that part or all of the scenarios enacted are contrived and further enhanced through post-production editing to create an illusion of reality and are, at best, surreal.
Have you ever wondered what makes reality shows so popular in a world where even the word “reality” is a misnomer? If the shows were unscripted, one is led to wonder about the unreal environments, misleading editing, and premise. Some have claimed that the success of reality television is not altogether unconnected with its ability to satisfy the desire of viewers to see others humiliated. American magazine, Entertainment Weekly reported, “Do we watch reality television for precious insight into the human condition? Please. We watch for those awkward scenes that make us feel a little better about our own lives.” Media analyst, Tom Alderman put it better when he wrote, “There is a sub-set of Reality TV that can only be described as Shame TV because it uses humiliation as its core appeal.”
Not everyone agrees with that. For example, the show holds an attraction for “stars”, who, seem to float or soar above negative public opinions, by disregarding the same. It would appear that for this group of individuals, the allure is fed by the innate desire to become instant celebrities, a wich to turn a dream into reality. And some of the “winners” of reality competitions over the years have indeed succeeded in transforming into public personalities by standing on this virtual platform. One could, therefore, be swayed by the argument that the only prerequisite for becoming an instant celebrity is the acceptance of the risk of becoming an object of ridicule in the public glare, and allowing shame to become one’s reality. Ironically bizarre, wouldn’t you say?
Yet, millions convince themselves that this is acceptable, especially seeing as more and more people are positioned under the spotlight, having been made rich and famous for daring to be humiliated on TV. This is, in reality, a primitive macabre dance that consumes many participants in the process and is a reflection of what man, the crowning glory of God’s creation, has evolved into. Act II, Scene VII of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” sums things up neatly for us:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
Striving to outdo the next person has virtually overrun every sphere of human endeavor. Surprisingly, in Christaindom, we are not untainted. We have acquired an unquenchable desire for extreme performance as if we are some athletes contending with one another in the competitive arena of sports. This is inherently dangerous. Performance orientation may be acceptable within the context and boundaries of our physical existence but it translates to an expectation of reward based on effort alone. This drives head-on against spiritual laws and is undoubtedly a disaster waiting to happen. Frankly, true disciples of Jesus Christ are an endangered species because spiritual bullying by self-appointed taskmasters is increasingly the order of the day. My next few blog posts aim to bring us back, walking in step with the Master and being responsible and responsive to Him alone.
We are indeed all living a scripted life and as surely as there is a beginning, the prologue, there will assuredly come an end. In Shakespeare’s seven stages of man, mortal man’s end is in ‘the second childishness’, where he loses teeth, sight, taste, and every sensual aptitude. His submission assumes, of course, that the individual lives to a ripe old age. It does not take into account, the realities of premature death. Life and living are being redefined daily through our acceptances and rejections. Life expectancy is quietly receding into the dark annals of the inconsequential. The predatory and primitive instincts in man are gradually being revived, and more so, heightened for exploitation and wanton gain. We are creating our realities. Yet, an end will surely come someday, somehow. Sadly, this end is the ultimate reality our minds are often reluctant to process. As surely as night follows the day, the sun will surely set on the realities of this present existence and that will mark the start of the reality of eternity. At this end (eternity), all the books will be balanced.
Having weathered some storms, and had my share of travails in life, I am inspired to pen these insights which I have tested and found to be true. Reminiscing on how I have overcome the odds, I submit to the sobering thought that it was neither in my strength nor might. This blog series will give insightful exhortations and reinforce, amongst other things, that a divinely orchestrated life can be fully apprehended without relying on the vagaries of psychodynamics.
Come on this journey and rest assured that the Master has your best interest at heart. “I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed” (Deut. 30:19).
Peace is unto you and sees you next week when we begin an in-depth exploration of the Principles of Divine Living.