The Manual

There are things that are within our power, and things that fall outside our power. Working within our sphere of control, we are naturally free, independent, and strong. Beyond that sphere, we are weak, limited, and dependent. Focus your attention only on what is truly your own concern. If you wish to have peace and contentment, release your attachment to all things outside your control.

The Manual

Whenever distress or displeasure arises in your mind, remind yourself, “This is only my interpretation, not reality itself.” Then ask whether it falls within or outside your sphere of power. If it is beyond your power to control, let it go.

People are not disturbed by things themselves, but by the views they take of those things. When you are feeling upset, angry, or sad, don’t blame another for your state of mind. Your condition is the result of your own opinions and interpretations. Blame no one.

Do not take satisfaction in possessions and achievements that are not your own.

Do not wish that all things will go well with you, but that you will go well with all things.

Lameness may strike your leg, but not your resolve. Sickness may weaken your body, but not your determination - unless you let it.

Whenever a challenge arises, turn inward and ask what power you can exercise in the situation.

Do not say of anything “I have lost it”, but rather, “I have given it back.” For as long as the Source entrusts something to your hands, treat it as something borrowed.

  • Has your wife died? You have given her back.
  • Has your child died? You have given him back.
  • Have you lost your home? You have given it back.

Do not give anyone power to upset you. No one can steal your peace of mind unless you let them.

Be content to be considered plain or even foolish. Do not strive to be celebrated for anything. If you are praised by others, be skeptical of yourself. It’s not easy to hold onto your inner harmony while collecting accolades. When grasping for one, you are likely to drop the other.

If you’re waiting for a particular platter to come around, do not lunge for it - be patient. If it passes you by, don’t complain.

Think of life as a play, and yourself as an actor. Your role and time on stage is up to the Author’s choosing. Play your part to the best of your ability.

Learn to distinguish between the reality and interpretation, especially when you come across a “bad “ omen. Remind yourself, “Nothing is foreboding to me. All signs point to good luck, if I interpret them that way. Whatever life brings, I can use it to my advantage.”

If you make peace with all things that are beyond your power, refusing to fight them, you will be invincible. Instead of wishing to be someone else, desire to be free. The way to be free is to let go of anything that is not within your control.

Whenever anyone provokes you, remember that it’s actually your own opinion provoking you. Do not be fooled by how things first appear. With time and greater perspective, you can regain inner peace.

Continually remind yourself that you are a mortal being, and someday will die. This will inspire you not to waste precious time in fruitless activities, like stewing over grievances and striving after possessions.

Do not adopt any air of superiority, for any reason whatsoever.

If you find yourself acting to impress others, or avoiding action out of fear of what they might think, you have left the path.

Find your significance within yourself. Within your own sphere of power - that is where you have the greatest consequence.

Whenever misfortune befalls you, ask yourself how you would react if it were someone else in the same situation.

Do not hand over your mind to anyone who insults you. Do not dwell on their words and don’t let them dominate your thoughts.

When you embrace your wife or child, remember that they are mortal beings. By accepting their nature rather than denying it, if either should die you will find the strength to bear it.

In every situation, consider what precedes it and what may follow - then act.

When you hear predictions of the future, do not become fearful or excited - remember that future events are beyond your control. Keep the same serene mindset you had before hearing the prediction.

Be the same person in public as in private.

Speak only what is useful and beneficial. In conversation, avoid idle chatter about horse races, athletes, celebrities, food, and drink. Refuse to participate in gossip - tearing down, inflating, and judging other people. Among friends, shift the conversation to worthy topics; among strangers, stay silent.

Avoid taking oaths (binding your will to another person or group of people) as much as possible.

Avoid the extremes of elation at a win and devastation at a loss.

In company, do not prattle on about your own adventures and misadventures. However exciting your exploits are to you, others may not be so interested. Also, keep your language free of obscenities. Do not dip into the gutter in search of cheap laughs.

When you feel burning desire for something that appears pleasureful, you are like a person under a spell. Instead of acting on impulse, take a step back - wait till the enchantment fades and you can see things as they are. Consider the cost of pursuing this potential pleasure, every consequence that may follow from acquiring or experiencing it, and how you will feel about it the next day. Then consider how you will feel about yourself tomorrow if you resist the temptation today.

Whenever you act from clear judgment, doing what needs to be done, do not worry about what others will think - even if the whole world might misunderstand you.

Black and white thinking may seem powerful in speeches and debates, but real life is mostly gray areas.

If you win the adoration of others by pretending to be someone you’re not, you may gain celebrity or high office - but you will lose out on the fulfillment of a life best-suited to your attributes and abilities.

Watch out for obstacles and errors in your thinking, just like you watch for obstacles in your path.

Our possessions should be suited to our bodies and lives, just as our shoes are suited to our feet. Could you run better if your shoes were larger than your feet, or gold-plated and diamond studded? Of course not. Once you let your appetite exceed what is necessary and useful, desire knows no bounds.

It shows a lack of an inner life when one is overly focused on bodily things - whether indulging in food and drink, exercising to exhaustion, or spending excessive time on grooming. Care for your body as needed, but put your main energies and efforts into cultivating your mind.

I am richer than you != I am better or more valuable than you.

Do not judge people unless you perfectly understand their motives and context. Do not mistake your impression for the whole truth.

Do not proclaim yourself a philosopher, or go around preaching your principles. Show them by example. Do not give a speech about how everyone should eat. Only eat as you should.

Stay mostly silent, ask questions and listen intently. Do not spew your undigested thoughts, show their results in action.

Do not make a spectacle of self-deprivation. When you fast, tell no one.

An ignorant person is one who is tossed about between elation and despair by external forces and events. A philosopher is one whose thoughts and emotions are internally anchored.

The whole point of learning is to live out the teachings.

Philosophy is for living, not just learning. Practical application of principles is essential.

Written on August 20, 2023