Getting Stirred Up Isn’t Growth

Excitement Isn't Realization


There’s a reason why many politicians, preachers and pos-think gurus fire up their energy to a fever pitch before unleashing it on their audiences. It impresses. It gets immediate attention, usually uncritical attention, and the audience gets focused and swept away by the excitement. When we’re cranked up on adrenalin and dopamine, we’re much less likely to question things, less likely to carefully examine the ideas and information being handed to us.

This suspension of judgment can be a wonderful thing. It helps us dance right past our usual reservations, doubts and disbeliefs. It’s a quick way to step fearlessly outside the rigid limits of our comfort zone. And it works. Some people have made important, life-changing breakthroughs at a high-energy event. But for others, they get an exciting ride but only for as long as they stay hyped up.

Still others may not be so lucky. There are darker paths, too, peopled by those with ulterior motives such as demagogues, swindlers or cult leaders who can also be very good at stirring people up.

But let’s say we attend an event presented by an honorable, well intentioned speaker. We get there, we get swept up in a speaker’s charismatic flow, and we feel good.

Then we go home. Now, some of us do take new ideas home with us, maybe even an actual breakthrough, but most do not.

So here’s a little secret:

Any breakthroughs you make do not – do NOT – come from the speaker. They are something that was already inside you which found it easier to come out and introduce itself during that time when your attention was focused in a different way.

Of course it doesn’t have to be an event. Other experiences can also help you step outside the limits of your usual thinking. Do-it-yourself experiences like meditation, for example. Or hypnosis. Dreaming. Extended fasting. Even some psychotropic substances can reportedly work.

But don’t expect any of these experiences to be like a subway turnstile, where you pay your fare and you get your ride. Nothing like it. You can’t just insert your token and slip right through to the “good stuff.”

It’s more like a door with a sensor, and that sensor is looking for something inside you, not a particular technique or meditation.

Let’s say, however, that something worked for the lady across the street just yesterday. It’s natural to assume that we’re as good as she is. And it’s natural to try what the neighbor lady has already tested and proved. So we try it, and when it doesn’t work, we try it again. And again … and again …

Has that ever happened to you? Copying somebody else’s path? But although it probably won’t get us the results we desire, it does serve an important purpose. It helps sharpen our intention, our awareness of why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Then, eventually, if we are very determined, we begin suspecting that we’re not moving forward. Maybe we start getting curious – or just plain bored. But still we don’t quit. Instead, we begin casting about, exploring, tentatively at first, and begin discovering new things. They may be little things, true, but it feels good to be in motion. And as long as we stay hungry for that inner experience of new ideas, new understandings, new peace, we’ll keep moving forward.

So, in your own mind, be very clear about this. It’s not the exciting, charismatic, hyperactive speaker who just ran onstage and is now waving his arms around and shouting passionately. That may be great show business, but it’s not where your enlightenment and growth will come from.

Of course, learning new techniques is perfect for helping us get things done in the physical world. We’ve talking practical results here, like learning the guitar or carpentry or computer programming. The inner world, however, is not so linear. The rules (if we can even call them that) are much more amorphous. And to our linear, materially-oriented minds, it can sometimes seem that the rules for spiritual things slip and shift all over the place.

In spiritual matters, your growth originates deep down inside you. That quiet little voice – more of a feeling, really – that gently nudges you in a new direction. That’s what you’ve been looking for.

Getting all stirred up isn’t growth. It’s just a pleasant rest stop along the way. You pause there for a bit, enjoy the view and the amenities, then it’s back on the road again, refreshed and refocused. And you’re back to pursuing what’s over the next hill … and the next.

Cheers from sunny Japan,