I've got a philosophy derived from Tibetan Buddhism and the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa that drives the way I live.
The philosophy can best be summed up as follows:
Phase One: Prepare the mind
- Fearlessness: when you climb steep mountains, sometimes you get hurt. Nonetheless, you just have to keep climbing.
- Optimism: because perception has a way of becoming reality.
- Discipline: there is a concept of crazy wisdom, where the discernable method for confronting the insanity of life is to practice discriminating awareness, which is the essence of discipline.
- Experience: for there is no substitute for actually DO-ing.
Phase Two: Build a path
- Not "but"..."What if?"...Rather than finding imaginary roadblocks before getting on the road, begin with the end in mind and work backwards.
- Idealism not cynicism: we've all been burned, disappointed and left at the altar. Nonetheless...
- Aspirations: It is amazingly powerful when you actually declare what you aspire to in life versus just being wishy-washy and sitting on the fence. Serial entrepreneur Jim Clark once drew a distinction between chickens and pigs. One is engaged the other is fully committed.
- Assertions: A VC friend suggested this to me and I have found it to be really effective. Come up with a set of extemporaneous statements of fact and the outcomes or accomplishments that will serve as their measuring stick. This exercise is a great level setter, a good clarity of thought driver and an effective internal bullshit barometer.
- Externally communicate with consistency and clarity: Because you are not a brain in a jar, articulating your personal path is absolutely critical. People will either help you or get out of your way if they know exactly where you stand and what you are trying to accomplish.
When facing a fork in the road with respect to your path, try the following exercise:
- What am I good at (pick top 5)?
- What do I enjoy (pick top 5)?
- What do I want to accomplish in terms of personal outcomes (pick top 5)?
- Prioritize each list and then take the top two from each category and create a list of six items.
- Write three DIFFERENT scenarios in 1-3 paragraphs that spell out how you accomplished your path (doing what you are good at, what you enjoy, and getting to an outcome that you aspire to). The output will give you a pretty good sense of which forks will most like lead to your personal nirvana and what that nirvana looks like.
Phase Three: Create a straw man in your daily life
- Be-See-Act: define your near term mandala* and carry it with you in your "front pocket" at all times. With that perspective in mind always be cognizant of the things you are doing to BE true to your self, SEE things as they really are and ACT on that knowledge.
- Mental approach: Deity, Non-Duality, Bliss. To be a DEITY is to take full responsibility for living your life as the spiritual guide of your own existence. To operate with NON-DUALITY is to interpret life as it really IS without relativity to other circumstances, emotions, ego, etc. To act with BLISS is to view the road ahead of you as something fundamentally to be looked forward to, discovered and revealed. This requires a sort of crazy wisdom because when confronting unknown paths or direct challenges, keeping one's head and maintaining a bliss-filled perspective requires a conditioned mind.
* Definition: Mandala: The mandala is usually a symbolic representation which depicts the qualities of the Enlightened Mind in harmonious relationship with one another. A mandala may also be used to represent the path of spiritual development. In the West the term is also used to refer to the "personal world" in which one lives, the various elements of the mandala being the activities and interests in which one engages the most important being at the centre of the mandala, and the least important at the periphery. Depicting one's personal mandala in pictorial form can give one a good indication of the state of one's spiritual life.