This article is taken from my upcoming release titled: The Zero Point Agreement: The Door to Freedom and Lasting Satisfaction.
All true and lasting happiness is based on this one principle. When you are in agreement with this principle, happiness and contentment will be the result. No matter what your spiritual base, no matter what you are practicing, without this agreement your spiritual practice and its achievements will be fragile and ephemeral at best. When you are not in agreement with this principle, difficulty and unhappiness will ensue. This agreement will be found within the core of all the major spiritual traditions and psychological methods. This is the agreement that all other agreements and principles rely upon for fruition. Without consciousness or understanding of this agreement, none of your spiritual practices will be effective. There is not one place where this principle isn’t true. Furthermore this is where all spiritual or personal transformation takes place.
This is also the only place from where you can be of benefit to others.
In Tibetan there are the terms rangdon and shendon which translates respectively as ‘the function of oneself’ and ‘the function of others.’ To be of benefit in the world, we have to first put ourselves in order. This agreement is about placing our efforts on our own work and continuously being accountable for our part of any given situation. Polish our own mirror; focus on our own practice.
The pithy phrase for this agreement is: I live life from my side.
Basically you are on your own.
But it also means, as is expressed in the I Ching, to go half way in our relationship with all others. To fulfill this agreement we must show up to the halfway point, not go past it or isolate our self by holding back either. Don’t go pushing our agenda on the other but don’t withdraw through indifference. Ultimately, as the I Ching further expresses, all relationships including to your spiritual source, reflect this principle.
The best teacher can only bring the teachings to you; you have to practice on your own. Yangsin Rinpoche at his talk this past Sunday at Deer Park in Oregon Wisconsin began with “ the good news/bad news is – you have to do the practices for yourself.” He laughed and spoke about this principle and used the analogy of the sport trainer. The coach can put a lot of effort in training her athlete but the athlete has to run the marathon herself. She is on her own in the race. Fortunately, this means that the athlete or spiritual practitioner also experiences the results of her efforts. In spiritual or psychological contexts, no one else can have a realization for you. This may seem obvious but in many religious practices the effort and experiences are often placed on the religious leader or teacher. Healers and teachers that go past the half way to “heal” you while you passively “receive” are doing you more harm than good. I speak to this in detail in my upcoming book on Spiritual Initiation in the chapter, The Toa of Not Following. (To be released August 15th, 2010: The Wheel of Initiation: Practices for Releasing Your Inner Light.) This book also offers an organic template from which you are given practices needed to fulfill this core agreement.
All transformation happens from our own side, a result entirely based on our efforts. Miracles as I wrote in a previous Blog article arise as an opportunity; what we do with that opportunity is entirely up to us.
What we do with this precious (brief) human life is up to each of us.
The Ten key points of this agreement of “I live life from my side:”
1. You are 100% responsible for your motivation and effort. You create the conditions for a happy and satisfied life from your side.
2. You are the athlete, the spiritual practitioner; you are on your own when it comes to the effort. (You then experience the direct results of this effort.)
3. You rely on a qualified teacher as your coach. A qualified teacher is someone who exemplifies this principle.
4. You show up half way for all your relationships. Going past half way disrespects boundaries. Just so, not showing up to the halfway point means you are not truly living.
5. Your true and lasting happiness is dependent on your attitude and what you focus your mind on. It all gets down to the condition of your mind.
6. You investigate truth, teachings, and instructions for yourself. You decide. You are the meaning maker.
7. You prepare for spiritual experience or teachings from your side through purification and other practices such as meditation or investigation.
8. You recognize the preciousness of human life and the responsibility that goes along with it.
9. You take refuge in wholesome and strong intentions.
10. You acknowledge and have a spiritual/ethical practice you rely upon.
When you are engaged in the following you are out of alignment with this core agreement:
1. Anytime you complain.
2. When you ponder others.
3. When you make someone else responsible for your unhappiness or happiness.
4. When you feel overwhelmed.
5. When you need to be right.
6. When you are making assumptions about others.
7. When you try to change someone else’s attitude or behavior.
8. When you make choices and act according to how you think others will respond to you.
9. When you get angry with others rather than transform the anger from your side.
10. When you are caught up in such negative emotional states as jealousy, revenge, hate, attachment, or judgment.
11. When you are competing to win rather than competing to do your best.
12. When you are chronically unhappy.
13. When you are disappointed with others and do not take the effort to change the situation from your side.
14. When you experience challenges and difficulty (including difficult people) as a validation of a negative perspective.
15. When your resistance to follow-through on a creative, spiritual or ethical commitment is stronger than your motivation.
16. When you are focused on external conditions of unhappiness or happiness, such as money, prestige, success, or popularity.
There are more signs that point to how you are out of alignment with this core agreement as well as ways to become strong in this principle (available in both books mentioned above). In fact, every worthwhile practice will point to this agreement as its foundation. For now you may want to investigate this further for yourself through spiritual journaling and personal inquiry.
Investigation through Spiritual Journaling and personal inquiry:
1. Begin with reading through a text you rely upon now in your spiritual practice. Find this agreement within and write about it.
2. Notice how you or others may be complaining. Become conscious of changing complaints into motivations. Take some action to remedy the issue or let it go. Create an intention around this.
3. Write about water using the following words: self, reliance, guided, undercurrent, direction, and rock.
4. Write about what conditions are necessary for you in order to have a happier life. Then write about what you are going to do from your side (internally and externally) to bring these about.
5. Preorder my book on spiritual initiation and sign up for my free seminar on “Entering The Wheel,” Friday August 13th at Thundering Clouds, LLC. See my calendar for details.
6. Take a problematic situation and apply this principle as best you can. Write your insights in your journal.