Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do U Believe in God? or Do U Believe in What Man Says about God?

The typical answer goes like ... ¨going by the fruits of Christianity, I don´t¨, or why are there many scriptures, some which conflict with each other? Why are there so many different religions and even within the same religions, many different denominations which contradict each other?

Fortunately for me, I have never doubted the existence of God, but I have used many of the arguments above when I ran into those moments of doubt about God´s purpose for His creation. I have been plagued by questions like:

  1. Why does God allow suffering, especially of the innocent?

  2. Did God really create one race to be subject to another? - why is the history of one race written in perpetual slavery?

  3. Why would God choose one race as His favorite or chosen race?

  4. If the Bible is to be believe hook, line and sinker, How can a loving God condemn a new-born baby who dies at birth to hell? [a newborn doesn´t even know enough to ask for salvation without which every human is doomed]

  5. Is an eternity of suffering in hell a just punishment for even a lifetime of sin? - how do u reconcile that with a loving God?

The questions go on and on – most with some answers that I can wrap my mid around and others whose answers will simply have to come from God himself.

I recently read ¨Angels and Demons¨, the novel by Dan Brown of the ¨Da Vinci Code¨ fame, and I got this profound insight from a discussion between two characters – one a God believing marine physicist(Vittoria) and the other an agnostic art historian(Robert Langdorn). Here is a transcript of the dialog

¨Vittoria was watching him. "Do you believe in God, Mr. Langdon?" The question startled him.....Do I believe in God? He had hoped for a lighter topic of conversation to pass the trip.

A spiritual conundrum, Langdon thought. That's what my friends call me. Although he studied religion for years, Langdon was not a religious man. He respected the power of faith, the benevolence of churches, the strength religion gave so many people . . . and yet, for him, the intellectual suspension of disbelief that was imperative if one were truly going to "believe" had always proved too big an obstacle for his academic mind. "I want to believe," he heard himself say.

Vittoria's reply carried no judgment or challenge. "So why don't you?"

He chuckled. "Well, it's not that easy. Having faith requires leaps of faith, cerebral acceptance of miracles, immaculate conceptions and divine interventions. And then there are the codes of conduct. The Bible, the Koran, Buddhist scripture . . . they all carry similar requirements-and similar penalties. They claim that if I don't live by a specific code I will go to hell. I can't imagine a God who would

rule that way." ......

"Mr. Langdon, I did not ask if you believe what man says about God. I asked if you believed in God. There is a difference. Holy scripture is stories . . . legends and history of man's quest to understand his own need for meaning. I am not asking you to pass judgment on literature. I am asking if you believe in God. When you lie out under the stars, do you sense the divine? Do you feel in your gut that you are staring up at the work of God's hand?"

The gems are in those last lines I emphasized. I think that is the most profound insight I have come across as to how we essentially dodge the heart of the matter and focus on excuses to disbelief and faithlessness.

As an engineer, it is not just when I look up at the vast expanse of space, but also when I get assaulted physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually by the glory of a flower in bloom, by the miracle of physical growth of a plant or animal, by the totally illogical selflessness of great humans inspite of their suffering and misery. But also, when I contemplate the impracticality of something as simple (compared to a human) as a computer evolving on its own from grains of sand ... my mind only comes to one conclusion - I AM NOT HERE BY SOME ACCIDENT. And I think everyone of us deep down feel that, which is why every human being no matter how mediocre, evil or intelligence at some point is afraid of the end (death) and is concerned with leaving a legacy (why do u suppose the concept of Spiritual Intelligence is becoming trendy in the management consulting and business world?). Abraham Maslow got it right when he put Self Actualization at the very top his hierarchy of needs.

For me, there is nothing that is within the pages of the Bible, Koran or Torah that is a greater testament to the existence of God that what I can can see, hear, smell and feel – in order words, the daily miracle that is me, you, how we are even alive till now and the universe. Whether that God is caring and loving .....I´ll let General Romeo Dallais (the Canadian General that led UN troops in Rwanda during the genocide) to answer that ¨Now I know there is God, because I have seen the devil¨

Monday, June 04, 2007

Acquire Knowledge ....

In a manner of speaking, your very sanity depends on it. But its not just about knowledge, meditation and reflection upon what we know brings insight and ultimately wisdom.

Do not also confuse knowledge with skill. Knowledge is an important part .... the other part is know-how - the ability to apply knowledge.

Get holistic knowledge ... don't restrict yourself to what u learned in school --- read 'outside your comfort zones' like Dr Covey advices. So long people ..... I'll post soon to let u know of how I am coping with loosing something REALLY PRECIOUS!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Post # 8: The Things We Take for Granted

How many times do we stop and appreciate the following?
  • The air we breathe? Only in extreme cases is it anything but life-giving.
  • The sunlight that supplies all the energy that keeps life going.
  • Despite our situation, we can always count at least 10 calamities that we have never experienced.

These and numerous other blessings are usually lost and forgotten by most, taken for granted in the pursuit of such things as the job, wealth, success etc.

On the journey of self mastery, in the pursuit of excellence, we become more aware of how much we take for granted, we start to give of ourselves freely, selflessly to other people as appreciation for the blessings of being alive and healthy …..and there comes a problem – our love, our care, our service, our attention and all those other things we give freely are undervalued, ignored and taken for granted! I have struggle and continue to struggle with this and it is a painful but very valuable reminder that I am still not completely without ego.

For why do I feel hurt when I make sacrifices that are not recognized? Love selflessly and give attention that is not reciprocated? – I think the answer is simple … I still want something back, its because my motives are not completely selfless and so my ego needs recognition of sacrifice, it needs reciprocation of love and attention and of care, I am still attached to that reciprocation.

And so, when a loved one takes my love, care and attention for granted, when I make personal and professional sacrifices that are not recognized, it is a painful reminder that I am NOT the centre of the world. For the vast majority of us, our migraine is the most important calamity in the world right now, more important than the next person’s cancer, refugee’s starvation and homelessness. Such a harsh reminder serves to correct our course in the quest for excellence and self mastery; it reminds us that so long as our deeds don’t serve some purpose greater than the petty needs of our ego, only pain and hurt can result when these deeds don’t yield the desired payback.

With this knowledge of how much our egos can ruin our ability to contribute genuinely and love selflessly, what is the person who walks the path of ‘Shibumi’ to do? If I had THE answer, I’d be the world’s free-est person. However, after dealing with my own pain on this issue and meditating on it, I offer a perspective

A. Motives: First of all, we must examine deep within ourselves the motives for the deed/s in question. When due to lack of integrity, we peddle crushes ad romantic feelings as selfless love, when we peddle self-serving deeds as sacrifices, when we seek to serve ourselves while pretending to be rendering service, then we have already taken the path of ego-feeding and only pain, hurt and disappointment wait at the end.

B. Lack of Detachment: As further evidence that we have substituted the wants of our egos for the needs of the conscience is the fact that we become attached to outcomes – recognition for out ‘contributions’,’service’ and ‘sacrifices’ as well as reciprocation for our ‘selfless love’. Because our motives are not right, we miss out on the rewards that are in the deed in and of itself and apart from its end. These rewards can only be valued by our conscience and right now, our egos are in charge - checkmate!

So people will always take you for granted – after all, you aren’t more important that the air they breathe which I might remind you they already take for granted ( …. And pollute!). however, with proper motives and with true detachment, we can transcend that and still love people in spite of them taking us for granted and still contribute, serve and make sacrifices in spite of the fact that someone may be using you – its not about them, its about us, our purpose, our values and our dedication to certain principles.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Humility – the Foundation of Self Mastery

I used to be a very arrogant person and I actually loved it and took glory in my arrogance (if you can imagine such stupidity). But as I have delved outside my traditional professional interests in to leadership and management education, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know and right now, even though I am not as humble as I would like to be (like my brother Nanga Tata TAMON or my classmate Nzube Okechukwu for example), I no longer think it is cool to be arrogant and proud and I just wonder – what was it I was, had or knew that made me so arrogant? Essentially, I believe arrogance is the belief that you are better than other people, a side effect (I call it intellectual arrogance) is that you think what you don’t know isn’t important.
It is easy to see how the
ego is the source of arrogance and pride because anytime you come across someone who is better (by whatever metric you used to judge yourself better) than you, your ego is bruised – you feel inferior to that person and those feelings can spawn anything from envy, jealousy and resentment to outright hatred. Humility is a characteristic of those that have achieved personal mastery because as intelligent (in a whole sense) as they are, they realize how little they know of what abounds. With the realization that I am not the centre of the universe (egocentrism) but a node in its mesh comes the understanding that other nodes (people) in the mesh have a unique perspective of our common reality that is uniquely theirs and that the totality of our perspectives is more accurate than each individual perspective on its own.
Much of the pain I have suffered in my life – especially as an employee resulted from pride and arrogance (‘who is he to order me around?’, ‘how dare he ask me to make him tea?!’, ‘hey, I am better at this than Mr X, so why hasn’t this project been assigned to me?’, etc etc). But it is in being humble that one can transcend such pettiness and learn the lessons that every situation in life has to offer. I remember right after university, I worked for this company where I had a big title with very little substance associated with it. For starters, for almost six months, my office was a public corridor where everyone passed on his way to see the CEO – in fact if you came in there and had to describe who I was, ‘Secretary’ or ‘Personal Assistant’ [professions I considered an insult for someone of my intelligence and education, especially personal assistant to some … I’ll spare you the description] was a more apt description. Initially, I resented that but soon lost myself in learning other things that it didn’t matter eventually. I would enter whatever I was doing at that time and thus transcend my immediate environment into a world of beauty, of wisdom, of understanding and insight, free from the vice and pettiness that mar my current reality as perceived through my ego – this world could be in a book I was reading, a presentation I was creating, or even a proposal I was developing. Another slight that I experienced was professional – as an electrical engineer who is very proficient in information technology, I considered it a slight when the management saw my function essentially as that of cloning and repairing computers. To understand why I found this disgusting, you need to understand that I was an expert at these things four years before and I had advanced to wireless network design and Internetworking – thus I found the current jobs at best mundane and something to be done by less competent people (- please note here that the managerial problem of matching the person to the job did exist and I am not making an apology for such a failure, just saying that with enough humility, I could have seen it differently and thus would have borne it more gracefully). Had I not checked my ego, I wouldn’t have lasted in that job and I would have missed the chance to learn all the amazing things I later learned there.
In humility, I found the most potent weapon in dealing with megalomaniacs in positions of authority – that has proven to be a lifesaver because I believe we have too many megalomaniacs running institutions from university classrooms (lecturers), departments (HoDs), faculties (Deans) and organizations (CEOs and other managers) and God help us in our homes (parents stuck in ‘during our days’ syndrome)! A truly humble person focuses on the effects of his actions on a system and in terms of his long term goals and not how he is treated in a given moment. I recall once I lectured for about twelve hours in one week for which I knew I wasn’t going to be paid – but I saw it as a service, a sacrifice, a contribution to an organization that needed it then. I remained completely detached from any rewards from the organization and despite working under terrible work conditions; I had fun and presented a wonderful image and delivered immense value to our clients. It is no doubt that humility is a core requirement of both emotional and spiritual intelligence. I can say that learning to be humble increased my knowledge and understanding ten-fold because it enabled me to listen within the speaker’s frame of reference – that way; I gained a better understanding of a common situation by seeing it from a different perspective. Needless to say, I made more friends and even some ‘enemies’ became my friends – genuine humility speaks for itself – people can see it in you and most people just can’t resist it.
Being humble means not thinking that we are superior to anyone, when humility drives self mastery, then we get the other part – not feeling inferior to anyone either. Without humility, we can’t practice detachment, we can’t give others the freedom to be themselves (required for good relationships), and we can’t serve, love selflessly or even do charity. Without humility, we can’t respect those less fortunate that we are (by whatever metric we are using) for as someone said (sorry I can’t remember who) LOVE focuses on giving to others, RESPECT shows a willingness to receive from them. It acknowledges another person’s potential and ability to contribute” - Now you see why so much of charity is not wholesome, it takes humility to accept a gift from a poorer person, from a refugee, or to sit at the feet of someone who isn’t as intelligent as you are to learn – that is the path that leads to self mastery, to excellence and to practical perfection.
I remember once after telling some people about how learning to be humble had transformed my life and a director at a former employer told me ‘But Tamon, I think you are still arrogant!’ to which I looked her in the eye, calmly and confidently replied ‘You see ma’am, humility to me is not some goal or target to achieve, it is an endless journey’. And that journey is at the heart and soul of personal mastery, the journey is an end in itself and when you choose to walk it, every step you take, every choice you make, every thought you think, every word you say like every breath you draw is wholesome with live, with love, with understanding, with joy and peace despite failings, disappointments, guilt and other lessons that we misconstrue as failure. Welcome to the path, you don’t need to know where it leads, if it were to end here, your journey would have been worthwhile – because in the final analysis the end (perfection, excellence) and the means (self mastery) are one.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Honouring the Women Who Helped Me on my Quest

Written on: Saturday, 10 June 2006 | 4:27:46 PM

Like most people, I have had a lot of influence in my life from those around me, specific people will always remain in my mind for the great role they had in helping me see reality differently and shaping my character. I know somehow, these people were placed around me by providence to do this and so without them, the realisation might have come some other way but I thank God for them being there. Not all of those that have been great influences are admirable or good people (in my opinion); for example there are at least two people that I feel really sorry for (at another time, I would have despised them) - they influenced me by showing me what I don't want to be. Others have been lighthouses and yardsticks, examples worth following in integrity, humility, joy, equananimity etc. Interestingly, practically all of the most memorable ones are women (- I sure do love women don't I?) Yes especially these women, I can say above all things that they were my nurturers and each of them wrote their names on my heart to different extents. I know some of these names may fade out with time but if I can help it, it won't happen, I want these names to remain engraved on my heart for eternity - because they are a sizeable part of my joy and peace, of my dreams and visions and they made life at one time or the other bearable, meaningful, exciting, joyful, educative, holy etc – in their presence, I have been alone without being lonely, spoken without uttering words, beheld without looking and in some moments, I have lived my dreams even if it were for 5 minutes!

Perpetua TAMON
The foundation for the person that I am is Perpetua TAMON, my mother. She is a strong woman that is the foundation for our entire family. I know that without her, our family's economic and moral standing would be very low. I disliked my mum growing up as a child - because she didn't spare the rod and was a tough disciplinarian. Amazingly as I became older, we became friends and shared so much love and joy that I now understand that she has/had always loved me ... and always will. Without this woman, I would surely have started out as a lazy, disrespectful, and totally spoilt child. If God gave me the privilege of choosing my own mother, I can't do better than Perpetua and I would choose her again and again! – Till that reality in which we don’t need mothers come. My perfect woman has her strength of character and purpose, her discipline and talented hands.

Susan Okpapi
‘Pretty geek’ that I met in university in Nigeria. For some reason that I still can't fathom in its entirety till now, I liked her from the first day I set my eyes on her (sometimes, I think she looks a little like my mum). We became friends two years after we met and it was she that started me off the path of ME - me as the centre of the world. She taught me that it was selfish to keep to myself the way I did, that life could be more fun and easier if I wasn't so aggressively introverted all the time (and also taught me the right way to place spaghetti in the water so it doesn't bundle together when it cooks!). The amazing thing is she helped me change without ever saying 'Tamon don't do this, do this instead' - she kept my huge ego (I remember actually having one then) intact and perhaps helped me peel off the first layers of that ego. She was the only classmate I had with whom I could talk - deeply, meaningfully about extracurricular things and life in general. I only have one regret - I wish, I had known her earlier and become her friend earlier - that is what I wish but maybe (as Susan would say), earlier wasn't the time - maybe all the time we saw each other from afar was necessary for the quality of the friendship we later had. I agree with you on that Suzie, but I still wish I had known and become your friend earlier! My perfect woman has her spontaneity.

Helen Tanjong
Can you imagine falling in love with your own 'lover'? Yes, that happened with Nelly - perhaps the most silent nurturer I ever had. How did she do it - teach me, nurture me I mean? - By loving me selflessly until something deeper than my ego saw it and responded with a kind of passion I never knew I had or was capable of. She modelled for me selflessness, care, trustworthiness and practically 'spoilt' me by it. My perfect woman has a heart like Helen's.

Amina Ogrima
My conscience outside of me, the alter of the truth about myself - and yes, my shrink!! Amina is another geek (I won't be surprised if she knows the circumference of earth at a latitude two thirds the way between the equator and the poles to 5 decimal places or for that matter the pH of river Nile on a Tuesday afternoon in summer!) I met her a little too late! (Suzie don’t kill me, maybe it wasn’t the time yet like you keep telling me) She continued the work started by Susan and till now, as my unofficial shrink, I can't remember having so many deep and meaningful conversations with anyone - about anything! I think more than anyone else, she gave me ultra confidence in myself and on aggregate, has been my biggest fan and supporter in re-engineering myself. Apart from being my shrink when I need one, offering her laps for me to lay my head on when I feel low, she is also the editor for all pieces I write (my articles, some presentations and this blog). My perfect woman has a mind like Amina's.

Bukky Babalola
I can remember that on at least two occasions, my interactions with this nymph made me feel something like Moses must have felt when he saw the bush that was burning but wasn't consumed by the flames. In my case, I have felt I am the bush and she the flame. I once worked in what Stephen Covey calls a low trust organisation, one with a predominantly negative environment and it was she that brightened my day and gave me a peek at what the quality called equananimity is. She fuelled my dreams and sometimes offered the proverbial breast for me to lay my head on when I needed to cry out the filth of corporate bureaucracy and the pettiness of megalomaniacs. She also made many a horrible lunch delicious by offering me something apart from the bad food to focus on. My perfect woman has a spirit like Bukky's.

These people are the most memorable milestones on my young journey of self mastery. Since I met them, not many thoughts pass through my mind that don’t include them. And every time on my journey that I am going through a valley and the shadows are so thick that my heart becomes heavy, I have but to close my eyes, stay still and recall:
  • Perpetua at more than 40 years old running like a little girl to come and hug me.
  • The long walks under the beautiful trees of ABU Zaria with Susan’s hand in mine.
  • Nelly putting a cold compress to ease my migraine and practically begging me to eat.
  • Putting my head in Amina’s laps and in silence, excavating and facing my demons, refining my dream, vision and reality.
  • Sitting to lunch with Bukky and feeling the fire from her eyes as she tells me a million things without uttering a word, or her hug in which I can melt.
I think of these and am filled with so much gratitude that the sun rises in me, spreads its warmth through my heart and makes it resonate with the theirs, clears my mind so I can see my path more clearly, lighten my spirit so I can rise above my circumstances and so the darkness of the valley and its shadows cease to be, because the inner peace, joy and blessings from these beauties make my eyes glow – for I know then that though my path goes through the valley of the shadow of chaos, I may be alone but never lonely!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Self Mastery-What it Means to Me

In my personal mission statement, my first priority in life is self mastery which I briefly define as 'an endless journey in completely refining my character'. Almost everyone I come close to comes to know that I have a huge desire to achieve self mastery even more than the desire for professional mastery. Of recent, due to interactions with some people very close to my heart, it has become necessary to define expansively for myself what self mastery is. This necessity stems from the fact that these dear ones think it is selfish to desire and seek self mastery the way I do. It really hurt me to hear that but it could mean one of two things – they either don't understand what self mastery is – from my perspective, which means that maybe I haven't taken the time to communicate clearly to them (and perhaps to myself?) what it is and what it entails or it could be that from the way they see me living my life in pursuit of self mastery – the means are wrong so they question the end.
First, what is self mastery? Self mastery for me is the ability to live a full, wholesome life in every single moment. When my responses are spontaneous but not reckless, when I make the right decisions effortlessly, when I can love unconditionally and when my decisions are guided by a well developed and continuously developing conscience instead of my ego, I consider that 'living in the moment' or as is better rendered in French 'la vie dans chaque soufle' i.e. 'life in every breath'. Self mastery means that I have learnt to be driven by my emotions under the guidance of my conscience and this happens transparently through my intellectual/rational mind.

Why self mastery?
Right now, I believe that my purpose in life is to live the full potential of all the unique characteristics that God gave me and in doing so, contribute to the realization of a world governed by virtue. I want to know the Truth and I want to know God because these two are one to me, I desire to be excellent in everything I choose to do and achieve such excellence naturally and effortlessly. The problem is this –
  1. What are those unique characteristics that God has given me?

  2. What are my talents? How many of them have I identified?

  3. What is the vision or visions that align with this purpose? What does wanting to live 'the full potential of all unique characteristics given to me by God ...' translate to from day to day, from relationship to relationship, from home to work?

  4. How can I be sure that I have chosen the right professional track to follow and I am not being driven within by greed or some version of the social mirror?
These issues essentially stand in my way to living the life I desire – the life of effortless perfection, of selfless service to other human beings, of loving unconditionally – one woman romantically or on an unromantic level, the people I come in contact with. I have come to accept that as long as I am driven by my ego, I will always be too selfish to give myself to anyone else – either in love or in service to humanity, I will never know Truth and God because my ego will keep me focused on ME – not even the divinity within me but on the pettiness, on satisfying the short term needs of my body, on my vanity etc. In a nutshell, to the extent that all my resources have been freed from under the grip of my ego and its petty wants and desires, to that extent can I give of myself to serve selflessly, to love unconditionally and to seek Truth. To that extent can I see myself not as THE centre of reality but as A centre or node in the mesh of reality, to that extent will I not fear uncertainty and to that extent will I really succeed as a being created in the image of God. I believe that the little of myself I can give now is that part that I have torn off from the grip of my ego. So self mastery is that journey – never a goal or objective that will liberate more and more of ME from the vicious grip of my ego and its petty needs so I can focus on listening to the voice of my conscience, of empathizing and listening to others within their own frame of reference, of seeing myself as a player on a team and in so doing be more accessible to SEEING reality [that part of truth that I can and have experienced or am experiencing] – that which is a fusion of my perspective and other people's perspectives.

What does self mastery entail?
In practice it starts with continuously refining my vision and defining my reality – the disparity between these two offers creative tension which I must overcome in making the vision my reality and as I approach that vision, to refine and set another one according to the feedback that I get on my quest. First, I want to take full responsibility for my life, my actions, I want to choose and refine my own value system, one that I can live with but that as much as I can understand is aligned with right principles. This value system will be the framework by which I deal with the world and reality, in essence the code that can be said to some extent to dictate what I will do in every single circumstance. Self mastery entails unravelling layer upon layer of my ego and replacing those layers with my conscience. It entails learning to be humble, to respect other people and give them the right to be – to accept them as they are now in this moment. Self mastery also entails mastery of whatever it is I love to do in life – teaching executives in Kaduna Business School, developing new modules for executive education programmes, analysing and designing computer networks, cultivating a garden or even making love. I dream of making every act I do a creative one that gives me utmost satisfaction and in which I can lose myself.

To ensure that my quest for self mastery does not become some vain pursuit of a mere dream that is ultimately doomed because of its narrow perspective, I maintain self-awareness – being here in this moment at all times, I also proactively seek feedback by really listening to other people, to the circumstances around me and trying to put them in perspective with what I already know. Humility guarantees that when I come across Truth, I will bow to it and abandon all the values I used to have a strong conviction of.

Now the big question:

What will I sacrifice on this quest for self mastery?
well at a personal level, I have and continue to sacrifice my ego and right now, I have no regrets about my quest. I will sacrifice everything and everyone in this quest because it is the only thing I know now that I must do. I won't be so arrogant as to say this quest, this journey is THE right quest/journey – I can't say that because of how little I can know or understand but I can say here and now with total confidence that given what I do know and understand, it is what I must do. Even if it is wrong, I believe that it is a lesson I am meant to learn and learn it I will. Perhaps those dear ones, those values that I will sacrifice along the way – the pain that will result when I do may well bring a new perspective of life that will make me change the journey but until then – I am happy to make this journey. I must make this journey because I and the journey, like the dream or goal are one. To dream is an expression of my divinity – it means I can create in my mind the world I want – without the dream, there's no journey from my reality towards it. I chose my journey after a deep reflection and I keep refining it every moment I get new understanding – my journey reflects my values, my principles and in essence my journey is more an authentic representation of me than what I do which is a snapshot in time and space. I and my journey are one and so without a dream, without a journey leading to that dream, there's no functional me. Right here, right now, I believe this with all my heart, mind, body and spirit – that is why I am willing to sacrifice everything for it. May God's grace be upon me.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Teaching/Imparting Knowledge Effortlessly

Sunday, 21 May 2006

I teach part time at Kaduna Business School ( and since November 2005, I usually have this experience while I am teaching that can best be described as the experience known in emotional intelligence circles as FLOW. I can practically walk into a class and loose myself in it, have lots of fun and by the time I leave, have the class enjoying themselves. Yesterday, I had this lecture on Creativity & Innovation that lasted for 6 hours! and I had fun all the way – I know the class also had fun. This experience is what I call teaching effortlessly; the objective is to help my class learn effortlessly.

It is a well known fact from the field of neuro-linguistic programming that the more effort you put in memorising something, the harder it is to memorise. Well how do I do it? First and foremost, at some point in the past, I have paid the price to know my stuff (read different books, articles and listened to some blogs), I have reflected deeply on my own moments of creativity (what went through my mind, the environment, the role of my current emotional state etc) so in one word – I have earned the right to stand in front of them and talk on the subject at hand (I’ve done so with emotional intelligence, personal effectiveness, managerial psychology and leadership). Next, I anticipate eagerly to meet the class and share my own perspective – this last bit is very important: I don’t consider my lecture THE perspective. Thirdly, I make the class a discussion rather than a lecture – this way I engage other knowledgeable people within the class and align them to my objectives. I also keep an open mind about the interrelatedness of knowledge – I see my main role in the class as ensuring that whatever branch of knowledge my class delves into, I can extract the lesson that is relevant to our current objectives and also make the whole class see this. Now, even if as a participant you doubt by competence, you are almost always infected by my passion and my intellectual humility (am not so sure about the last one – but I am working on it). By respecting the right of everyone in the class to contribute to the subject matter, I stifle emotional resistance to me.

In my classes, I always try to use many metaphors and games – these send the message to the right brain where it really sticks. It is more active learning because when I finally explain the concept behind the metaphor or game, the immediately grasp it. From beginning to end, I always remain detached from the results of the class – I don’t worry if they will praise or criticize me. I believe this is the only way to teach for six hours straight (2pm to 8 pm) and not die of physical exhaustion at the end. In a class of about twenty people who have already spent the entire morning (8 am to 1 pm) in lectures, I think it was amazing that only two people dozed for a few minutes during my stint – It really takes two to have fun teaching! Shalom!


The Place of God in the Search for Excellence & Perfection

Saturday, 20 May 2006 - 08:09am

I woke up this morning without any intention to compose a post for the blog. I launched my Bible (e-Sword) and read my morning devotion and this quote from Hoekstra’s daily devotion caught my attention:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, which the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Let me digress a little and set the whole premise upon which the title of my blog is based: Excellence of the type I dream of can only be experienced by a person that pursues self mastery. Self mastery is to me the key to unlocking all the potential (or as much of it as we humanly can) that is buried within us and stifled through years upon years of social conditioning and compliance. I will explore in depth the issue of what Self Mastery means to me in a latter blog but suffice it to say for now that without it, we forever are computers running programmes written by others.

So the treasure mentioned in the above verse to me is that quality of sublime excellence and effortless perfection and the earthen vessels refer to us. I believe that I was created by a Supreme Being (no I didn’t evolve from some lower life-form) and I also believe in the fact that as a created being, excellence & effortless perfection can only come when I am living the purpose for which I was made. Now, the purpose of a creation can only be found in one place – the mind of its maker – in my case God. So to live a life of excellence and effortless perfection, I must be living according to the purpose for which I was made and that purpose is something I must find. I don’t believe in the generic purpose of ‘I am here to worship God’ – If God wanted people just to worship Him, he would have created more angels. I believe that as God formed me uniquely from every other person, He had some specific mission in mind for me. Our world can be perfect if everyone fulfils his own purpose for being here – in doing so and letting the Wonder of God’s creation shine – we will be worshiping him in truth, with out whole being, with our lives. It is in the process of self mastery that we get to know and pursue that unique purpose for which we were created and unless God were to choose you and reveal it to you in a vision one night while you are sleeping, it takes a long process with many false turns. Once you find that purpose – the journey of self mastery continues – now on the path that has been revealed to you. Self mastery is to me a journey to the ‘inside’ of us and I believe that is where God is to be found, until we find God in our hearts/spirits, we won’t be able to see him in the next person, in the blades of grass, in the river or the situation that begs for our intervention.