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Repairing faulty life design

{written by : Pieter Heydenrych}

Article word count : 2839 -- Article Id : 24
Article active date : 2008-04-01 -- Article views : 9635

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Article is about :
Have you ever wondered about the rules that you live your life by?... Who decided you should live your life in a specific way or follow certain rules?.. Especially when you are considering your spiritual life. Rules that have been imposed upon you with the promise of some..

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- It is all about ethics -

Have you ever wondered about the rules that you live your life by?... Who decided you should live your life in a specific way or follow certain rules?.. Especially when you are considering your spiritual life. Rules that have been imposed upon you with the promise of some future benefit if you follow these rules....

The big question here is to consider by whose rules you are living?... Are they yours, or are they simply rules that you were brought up with?... Are they your parent's rules, or societal rules which are imposed upon you, and have you ever considered if they really suit you or not?... Do you really follow these rules because you want to?.....

If the answer to this question is a definitive yes, then you are a lucky person and have years on most other travellers. If however these are not rules that you consider your own, by virtue of conscious choice to follow them, then they may need to be looked at.... Especially since if you live your life by someone else’s rules, how could you ever expect to have a Perfect life.

Essentially what you need to do right now, is evaluate the rules and standards by which you live your life, "your life principles" If you are happy with the rules, then you are where you want to be. If not it is up to you to make them fit your life views. Important to remember here is that you are not setting your life rules for all eternity. You can change them if it suits you. As long as it is a result of a conscious choice made by you.

When deciding on your life rules, you can also decide to adopt some of the rules by which you are already living. There is nothing wrong with following adopted rules. The only thing that could be wrong with these is if your follow them because someone else said you should, or because you expect some potential (not guaranteed) future reward. A very typical example of this would be : " Thou shalt not steal". Sure this is a rule which is generally upheld by society. Sure you have to follow it, unless you are prepared to live with the consequences, which in some societies, even today would result in the loss of a limb. However, if you have chosen to adopt this life rule, you are not likely ever even to be tempted, simply because you have chosen it.

The main issue here is choice. Are you following the rule because you have chosen to, or simply because it is imposed on you. Oh.. and it is not essential for you to choose your entire life principle rules right now. You will find that even in your day to day life you are faced with choices, some of which may have a life changing impact, others which may not have much impact. It is important though that you ponder your choices, and whether or not they are worth incorporating into your principle frame work, or not.

So what to do?...

Starting your life design

Yep... This is absolutely great. We are going to re-design you into someone that you want to be, step by step. Sound a little scary... I assure you this will be some of the most fun you have ever had. So let's start.

There are really two things that you need to keep in mind when dealing with your life principles and ethics.
a) - I can do anything I want, any time I want, in any way that I want...
b) - I will have to live with the consequences of my actions...

Bit of a mouthful I'd say. Well if nothing else this should make you think about this carefully.

So when considering any particular life principle, you should measure this up to these questions :

  1. Do I really want to / (..not want to)?
  2. Am I happy to live with the consequences of my actions, (even if they are societally imposed)?.. If not I suggest you go back to 1)
  3. If I were you I would also consider what I would do when faced with a temptation to break my own rule, will I do it, or stick to my proverbial guns?.... What if I have no choice?....
  4. What will be the benefit to me if I do follow my life rule / ethic, and is this benefit enough reason for me to uphold this rule?....

Leading by example I would suggest we consider the example from the above :

"Thou shalt not steal"

Question 1 :
Do I really want to steal? Sure why not.. What could be easier than simply possessing something which may have belonged to someone else, especially since I did not have to pay for it... (Or did I?...)

Question 2 :
Am I happy to live with the consequences of this action?... Well to know this you would have to analyse the consequences so let's have a look at a few possible / probable consequences
- Alienation of this particular person... Do you care if you alienate the person from whom you are taking?...
- Societal criminal proceedings which could end you in jail?... Is that really something you want, and is the potential risk worth the potential benefit?...
- The risks involved as mentioned above could result in paranoia and trust issues, which may cause you to distance yourself from even the ones you love...
- The guilt associated with something like this could overpower you so much that again you end up alienating yourself, not considering the emotional impact that guilt could have on your overall life...
{I must say that considering all these I would have to reconsider my original position in 1) above, as I would rather live without the risk and the guilt, especially if I do not have to.}

Question 3 :
Let me sketch a scenario for you. "You have lost your job, you are down and out, with no money, food or even a place to sleep tonight. You pass a food stall, which seem to be only partially supervised, and not surveiled. You have already offered the owner to wash his stall floors, in exchange for something to eat. He has refused you flatly. Everyone else you have turned to for help has refused, and you are very hungry. You can simply help yourself, and probably get away with it, or..."
HMMM... I wonder what you would do, mr high and mighty "I will not steal" ?... Somehow I suspect that most of you will not be left hungry.... "I HAD NO CHOICE, YOU SAY...", "I say REALLY?..."
The important issue here however is not whether or not you will steal, but rather to understand that there are no absolutes in determining your life ethics. Rather parameters, which would work for you.

Essentially, and looking specifically at our scenario, I would suggest that I would set a parameter which stipulates that I have chosen not to steal, unless, my very physical survival depends on it?... Suddenly this has become a workable choice... When faced with a temptation, you should now have very little difficulty ignoring the temptation, because your survival is not likely to depend on you having something specific, which you can not obtain in any other way. If it somehow turns out that you have to, you will more than likely be comfortable with whatever consequences gets dished out your way, and similarly you can avoid the guilt associated with breaking the rule. Also since you have not really broken it...

"But I could get away with it?..." If you are comfortable with living with the risks associated.. I'd say go for it. Surely you can not be punished if you do not get caught... Consider however if you will feel a little guilty... This in it's own will prevent me from "going for it", simply because I do not want to be bogged down by guilt, and fear of the risks coming to bear.

Question 4 :
Benefits of sticking to the ethic I have chosen.... I can think of a few. The most important though is probably avoiding the fear associated with the risk of getting caught. This is enough for me. However, were I put in the scenario as above, suddenly the potential risks may seem like a reprieve (at least in jail I will get some food, and probably a warm place to sleep.)

I think the example as above should give you at least some idea of what I mean with designing your own ethics. Following this example I would conclude that considering the above I would choose not to steal, unless my physical survival depended on it. Easy choice to follow....

The best part of this is that I have chosen to follow this specific ethic, and unless I somewhere along the line discover that this ethic does not support the life I want for myself, I will stick to it, come hell or high water, and when you have decided, so you can.

"Thou shalt not steal"
has become...
"Thou does not wish to steal, and therefore shall not."

You will be surprised at how much more powerful the latter of the two is.


Avoiding design traps

Now this is something that you should pay careful attention to, as this may make the difference between you actually re-designing your life, or simply continuing with your life. The difference is subtle, but definitely there.

One of the most important considerations when designing your own life ethics and principles, is to do it in such a way that you need not look for reasons to justify breaking your rules. Your rules, and parameters of your ethics rules, must embrace whatever it is you wish to do. This sounds somewhat peculiar to you, I suspect, but what is important here is that if you are not breaking your rules, you can not feel guilty about it, and this will not only improve your overall mental state, but more than likely enhance your life, and views of life substantially, and with benefit to you and everyone around you.

Another consideration which is important is to maintain at least some measure of flexibility. If you find one day that something you wish to do falls outside of the scope of your self regulated and allowed parameters, it is important that you do not simply uphold your parameters without at least giving it some thought. If you find that the new revised parameter is acceptable, you may need to reconsider what your original parameters were, and adjust your thinking accordingly.

Sound like a lot of work. It is at least some. But I have not only found it to be worth the effort, but without a doubt this will with time become a natural reflex, and it will become easier, and less tedious.

"What about the fact that I can do anything I want?... Does that not simply mean that I must simply continue with my life as it is?..." This does not really have one simple answer, but if you are satisfied with your life, then you need not worry about this at all. However if you are not, it is very important to address this issue properly and with vigour. The most important differentiation in this instance would be the fact that you have now chosen specific ways of thinking, and they did not simply happen because.....

Avoiding ambiguity is also very important. To again recall our "Thou shalt not steal" example. It is important to define what in your mind qualifies as "stealing". In the Oxford dictionary it is quoted to mean "taking (another's property) illegally or without permission.". So simply put, if it does not belong to anybody, technically it is not stealing, or is it. Another possibility for interpretation, would suggest "taking property that is not yours" Although very similar, a very subtle difference again, which may make your reaction to a certain temptations different. Also what would you consider property that you could steal? Does it have to be physical (that you can touch), or intellectual (eg. copyright) anything that could translate into something that you could own, (or for that matter that someone else could own)? When considering this particular example (or any other for that matter) you are likely to find a significant number of potential ambiguities, and if not carefully addressed it will simply turn into a guilt cycle which will destroy your efforts.

Noting however. I am almost certain that when it comes to these ambiguities, you are not likely to think up every possible ambiguity and solve it in one go. This is likely to happen over a period of time. you will find one day that your ethics are challenged. It is then up to you to, rather than be rigid, consider the challenge carefully and decide consciously how to react. You may also then need to adjust your views slightly. This is fine, and in fact should be embraced, as this natural evolution of thought, and ethics will only enhance your life, if managed properly.

To finally conclude this topic, there is but one keyword which should be used to measure every single ethic that you apply to your life. " "CHOICE". Was it your choice, or that of someone else? If it was not your choice, was it your choice to follow the other's choice?... Every single thing that you do, should be subjected to these questions. And if ever you find that you did not choose what happened, it is up to you to make it your choice, or change it to be your choice... If you do not, choices will be made for you, and you will simply loose control, and be back where you've started......

Some guidelines

When considering these guidelines for ethics, it is very important that you understand that these are only guidelines, and in no way are you obliged to follow or even use any of the suggestions. We do believe that these suggestions are in line with the spirit of our philosophy, and as such they do have value to us, but for obvious reasons you may find some of them disagreeable. That is fine, as this would mean that you have probably spent some time on thinking about them. So here goes...

  • Do unto others as you wish to be done to...
    It is not required that you become a saint, as few will ever achieve this. The main purpose of this view is simply to ensure that you do not do unnecessary harm to another, this especially since in some way which will become clear to you in future you harm yourself if you do harm. This would embrace issues such as theft, murder etc...
  • Preserve what is beautiful
    Our views are to preserve any thing, including living things, that are in any way beautiful, if in any reasonable way possible, without destruction of the basic principles of survival and evolution.
  • Freedom of choice
    You always have a choice, and the right to exercise that choice. We also insist that you make a choice, as you should expect of yourself, whatever that choice may be.
  • Me First
    How would you ever be able to make another happy if you are unhappy?.. Base your life, on what some might consider a selfish attitude of what your want out of life. No one else will do it for you. I also do not need an excuse for it. I will only compromise when it suits me to do so.
  • Responsibility
    I accept responsibility for my life, and all that happens in it. I do not blame another, or even a spiritual crutch for things that go wrong in my life, as I have created my life to be what it is. I am able to repair my life mishaps, because I have taken the responsibility of doing so.
  • Live your life
    Life is no where near as serious as we tend to believe it is. Live your life, and make your choices so you can at least derive some pleasure from it, and eventually draw every ounce of potential from it.

I am pretty sure you can come up with a few others. Do so, and enjoy. At the same time feel free to add a seperate section to your motives diary called : "MY ETHICS" Then write down your decided ethics. As well as why, and include some parameters. I would suggest one "a5 size" page per ethic, so you have plenty of room for parameters. And whenever you pull out your motives diary, you read through your chosen ethics. Revise them and add to them if you think it is necessary. I suspect your will find an ever increasing list, of things your have chosen to do, and not to do. Have fun doing it though. This is an important building block towards your total perfection.

Author Bio :
The author, Pieter Heydenrych is a Reiki master who maintains both sites Learn how to meditate as well as The Order of Perfect. In both instances the sites are dedicated to enlightenment and the spread of knowledge to all who wish to learn.

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