How to harness the energy of love

June.22. 2015

Unlike other forms of energy, love’s energy does not work in unilateral ways.

For example, gravity is unilateral.

It’s always there, it requires nothing from you. You want to tap into it, just create the right conditions and it will work for you effortlessly.

But not the energy of love.

The energy of love operates as a flow, as an exchange of energy rather than a one-sided affair.

In order to access it, you must first release some yourself.

You can try to access this energy simply by demanding it, or you can try to force it to come to you, but you will not succeed.

In fact, the more you demand or force that energy to come to you, the less of it will come.

Instead, you access the energy by first producing it yourself.

And then spreading it around, and over time, this energy that you send out will begin to attract other like energy and soon you will be surrounded by it.

And the great thing is, it’s a totally dynamic and responsive thing.

The more energy you send out, the more you receive.

It works in reverse too, if you’re stingy with your love energy, you will expect the universe to be stingy with its love energy too.

Perhaps one of the best lessons of love’s energy is one I learned from my mother.

One day, on one of my annual trips to Borneo, she said to me, “Go and look at that plant in the corner. It’s such a nuisance. I’ve tended and looked after it for over a year and still nothing, not even a flower. If it’s not going to grow any flowers, just pull it out and throw it into the rubbish.”

That’s the lesson of love’s energy in a nutshell.

Love exists in a dynamic exchange.

To tap it, you must be generous with your own energy first.

If you’re stingy with it, if you give nothing back, you risk stopping its flow.

Which leads us to our first observation.

Unlike what people say, love is conditional.

There’s no such thing as non-conditional love.

Love always operates as an exchange. It will only come if it goes out (or as the Chinese say, “got come, got go”).

But how about a little baby?

What can the baby give you to deserve that love?

If you have to ask that question, you’ve probably never experienced the love in those tiny fingers. That love may not be a conscious type of love, but it is no less powerful than more conscious manifestations.

Or how about a plant?

I know I’ve used the example of tending to a plant many times. (Now you know where the examples come from, my mother is an avid gardener)

Notice how the more love you pour out on a plant, the more it responds, not directly but indirectly, by blooming beautiful flowers for you, filling your garden or apartment with its fresh scent of love.

So the secret is simple.

If you want to harness the energy of love, you must first give it out yourself, spread love all around you, and soon, you will be basking in an abundance of love and goodwill.

And whatever you want to accomplish in the universe will be done effortlessly and miraculously.

All that love surrounding you will do it for you.

There’ve been many attempts to explain this energy.

The law of attraction, karma, reaping what you sow.

They all describe the same thing.

Which is that if you want the universe to work for you, if you want to tap into all its abundant energy, all you need to do is invest in a little bit of that positive energy they call love.

As an aside, if you’re one of those sorry people who are stingy with love, and you want to hoard it all for yourself, well, that’s really a dumb way to love yourself.

Because if you’re not generous with your love, that’s all you will have eventually, your small measly pittance.

No amount of love you think you have can be measured with the infinite amount of love in the universe. If you’re generous with your love, it will be returned to you a hundredfold.

Isn’t it better to access all that energy rather than try to hold on to what little you have?


The energy of love

June.4. 2015

The key to an effortless enlightened life is to tap into the abundant energy of the universe.

Martial artists are well aware of this.

They understand the flow of energy in the universe, and instead of going against this energy, they work with it.

So for instance, if they’re fighting an opponent, they don’t try to oppose him directly; instead, they blend with him and try to harness his energy to redirect it back at him.

The opponent’s energy is of course part of the universe’s energy and by redirecting it, they’re tapping into that energy to accomplish their goals.

Learning how to blend with the energy of the universe and using it to accomplish your goals is a fact that eludes many people.

They think they have to rely solely on their own energy to accomplish their goals.

But that’s an inefficient and ineffective approach.

Our energy, physical or otherwise, is limited.

If you rely only on your own energy, you will be limited by what you can do.

For example, no matter how strong you are, you can never match the strength of a horse. So why not harness the energy of the horse to do what you need to do? Which is precisely what our ancient forebears did.

A beast of burden is only one example of the universe’s energy, but there’re other more subtle forms of the universe’s energy out there.

Think of gravity.

Gravity is an omnipresent force around us. It’s everywhere, so why not harness it to accomplish what you have to do?

Which is what the ancient designers of irrigation systems did. They used gravity to transport water around them.

When it comes to subtle energies, perhaps the most subtle of them all is love.

Yes, love, that much maligned, much abused, and misused word.

Thanks to the dream merchants of Hollywood, the word has come to mean a whole lot of other things which has little to do with love and more to do with self-gratification.

In its purest form, love is energy–positive energy.

When we love something, we pour out our heart and actions at this thing, this produces positive energy towards the thing.

Positive because it’s all good energy, intended to create good outcomes.

So for example if you love your plants, you’ll be showering them with attention, feeding and watering them regularly, and you’ll be spending as much time as you can with them.

Or if you love the guitar, you’ll be playing it all day long, every chance you have.

In other words, love is manifested in action and energy, always towards good positive outcomes.

Many people have this mistaken belief that love is a feeling.

Let’s say that all you do is stand over your plants and feel deep love for them all day long, but you do nothing for them and they die of neglect, would anyone believe you if you tell them that you love them?

Sometimes, I’d have students who don’t practice and yet they tell me that they love the guitar, and I tell them, that ‘love’ they think they have for the guitar is a fantasy.

Because if it was real, they’d be playing it all day long, every chance they have.

You can feel love all day long for something but if it’s not manifested in action and energy, it’s just so much empty emotion.

And of course, when I tell them this, there’re the usual protestations, to which I always say, if you really feel love for the guitar, show me, don’t tell me.

Next, how to tap into the energy of love.


The meaning of life

May.30. 2015

Philosophers have debated over it for years, great teachers have tried to give us answers, and I think I’ve finally got it all figured out.

Life is a cosmic accident that is best lived out in blissful forgetfulness.

And in this, we’re all hugely blessed.

Never before in the history of mankind have there been so many ways to drown ourselves in forgetfulness, so many activities, substances, toys at our disposal to help us forget ourselves.

Mind bending drugs, gadgets, social media, video games, TV reality shows–you name it, we got it.

All designed to make us forget our mundane existence and keep us entertained.

And that’s the key.

As long as we keep our minds occupied with one pointless pursuit after another, we feel like we’re filling up our lives with meaning and purpose.

The mecca for all these pursuits is of course America.

The land of the free, home of the brave and the bored.

That’s why the entire focus of this great society is on how to keep ourselves entertained.

And when it comes to entertainment, nobody does it better than America. Call it the genius of American ingenuity and inventiveness.

We can take anything and turn it into entertainment.

Politics, food, sex, religion, education (especially education. As a teacher myself, I’m aware that the buzzwords these days in education are “innovative teaching strategies” which is just another way of saying, “make it entertaining”).

As the old saying goes, “ignorance is bliss.”

I would add, “and forgetfulness (or entertainment) is heaven.”


The Theory of Everything

April.13. 2015

It was said that after he discovered the theory of relativity, Einstein set out to try to uncover the secret of all secrets–the theory of everything.

A principle that ties in all the disparate forces in the universe.

He never found it.

That doesn’t mean of course that it isn’t there. I believe one day, someone will find it.

But the idea is intriguing and one that particularly resonates with me.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always believed in reducing things to their basic elements in an effort to understand them.

It’s what I tried to do with the Art of Virtuosity, where I was able to identify basic principles that are crucial to virtuosity.

Well, the other day, I uncovered, purely by accident, one even more basic principle that ties in all these principles.

This principle is so powerful, I have to call it the theory of everything (well at least for the guitar).

I have been aware of the principle for years and have written about it in numerous short articles.

But I had not been aware of its role as the principle that connects all other principles.

What is this principle?

Without giving away the plot too much, I’ll have to say that it involves the fingertips.

A way of manipulating the energy at your fingertips so that they function like automated engines.

This principle is so powerful that when you discover it, speed, power, and precision occur effortlessly.

Your fingers will seem to be filled with a special kind of energy, they will seem to play themselves.

Of course, this may sound like so much mumbo jumbo to some.

It is always hard to understand something when you haven’t experienced it yourself. But believe me, this principle is very real and its results are very real.

So how do you discover this secret for yourself?

Practice is the key, many hours of practice, countless hours.

Next, patience—because you’re probably not going to get it next week, or maybe even next year, or the year after. So how long do you have to wait? As long as it takes.

And an open heart, no preconceptions. Just give your body and fingers complete freedom to explore and go where their instincts lead them.


Wisdom as a tool

March.28. 2015

Wisdom for me is a tool.

A tool to elevate your existence and create a more effortless life for yourself.

That’s what tools do—they make life easier for you.

For example, have you tried driving in a screw without a screwdriver?

Or a nail without a hammer?

Or tried to cut a board without a saw?

Without tools, life is a constant struggle. With tools, life becomes easy and effortless.

And that’s what wisdom does for you.

It gives you the tools to cut through the crap of life and see right to the essence of things. So that you can concentrate on the things that matter and not bother about the rest.

This makes life easy and effortless.

You don’t waste time and you still get to produce great results.

For example, if you work in a big impersonal organization. Organizations tend to operate with many layers of bureaucratic red tape (otherwise known as policies.)

You can blindly follow every one of these policies, but you’ll be wasting precious time and worse, you won’t be able to do your job, the job you’re hired for.

Or you can figure out which of these ‘policies’ can be dispensed with and focus your energy on doing your job well.

And this is where wisdom comes in.

What is your job?

Is it to fill out countless reports for your supervisors so that they can cover their butt and look busy and engaged?

Or is it to get things done?

For example, if you’re a teacher, the essence of your job is to educate.

Once you figure this out, you can focus all your energy on teaching.

And do the minimum on the rest. (Minimum here meaning doing what you need to do to give the appearance of having done what is ‘required’ and nothing more.)

This way, you’ll be able to produce the goods and still look good to the paper pushers and rule enforcers.

In guitar playing, wisdom will tell you that the essence of what you do is to play and express yourself on the guitar.

Everything else is secondary.

So if you’re playing well, but your teacher still tells you that you need to change your hand position because it doesn’t quite fit his idea of what is a good hand position, it may be time to look for another teacher.

Because obviously, he is more interested in enforcing his preconceived ideas than in teaching you.

Wisdom is especially important in sorting out the real from the phonies, the sincere from the scammers.

If you go to a church and the pastor tells you God wants you to contribute more money so he can expand his church, that’s an instant red flag.

Because wisdom will tell you that the essence of religion is to bring you salvation and not to help someone build his own megachurch. (Which sounds more like an ego trip than the word of God.)

Or if he tells you God wants him to have a new jet, stay very far away.

Because you’ll be financing his lavish lifestyle instead of finding salvation.

This has nothing to do with not being generous with God’s gifts to you, it has everything to do with not being taken in by some scammer.

Wisdom to me is a functional tool. Something that is actionable, something that actually makes a difference to your life.

It’s not to be confused with the ‘sage-like’ wisdom that does nothing for you except make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Yes, you can find your ‘inner child’ or ‘live in mindfulness’ but that’s not going to put food on the table or pay your bills.


The natural order of things

March.2. 2015

Wisdom, I’ve found, has a lot to do with the natural order of things.

What is the natural order of things?

It’s how things work in their natural state.

Take a mountain stream. Left to its own devices, it will find the straightest and most direct path to the ocean.

That’s how streams operate in the natural order of things.

And that’s how we operate too when we gain wisdom.

We begin to act like the mountain stream. We naturally find the straightest and most direct path to our goal.

And usually this means a path of least resistance.

A path of directness of purpose.

A path with only one objective, to reach the ocean.

That’s the simple scenario of working within the natural order of things.

But it gets a little more complicated at the human level.

Because along the way, your directness of purpose and efficiency must not create any resistance.

Because if you create resistance, you bring the forces of the universe against you.

(Think of the resistance as obstructions in your path to the ocean.)

Suppose your directness of purpose has to do with defrauding people, and you’re quite efficient at doing that, and for a moment it might appear that you have been uplifted—you’re living in your fine downtown mansion.

But you can’t defraud people without creating ill will and bad feelings, and this creates resistance in the universe (for you), and you soon find that your uplifting was only temporary.

This is the problem with some people.

They forget that the universe is full of energy and you want that energy to work for you, not against you.

The minute you create bad feelings and ill will, you invite that energy to work against you.

In other words, you’re not working with the natural order of things, and sooner or later, you will find your reality has been downshifted instead of uplifted.

Let’s see how this relates to the guitar.

Let’s say that you’re filled with directness of purpose and efficiency and you practice diligently every day.

But your directness of purpose is to follow someone’s prescriptions for guitar playing rigidly, without considering whether it’s working within the natural order of things in your body.

And the result is resistance within your body.

And sooner or later this resistance will manifest itself in subtle and unsubtle ways.

Subtle—by limiting your technical development and unsubtle—when you start suffering from all kinds of “overuse syndromes.”

(Neither one of which you might call uplifting outcomes.)

There’s, of course, no such thing as overuse syndrome, only misuse and abuse syndromes.

If you work within the natural order of things in your body, you can practice ten hours a day and not experience any ill effects.

To rephrase my original point.

Wisdom, I’ve found, really means understanding how the universe works and working with it in a way that creates least resistance and brings you to your goals simply and efficiently.


Some additional thoughts

February.28. 2015

So is wisdom an intrinsic thing which can only be accessed by people with special ‘talents?’

Can it be imposed from outside?

Can you buy wisdom and become a wise person as a result?

Can you seek a master and become a man of wisdom too?

To answer these questions, let me recount the story of a great musician.

In the middle of a great concert career, he suddenly lost his technique. Somehow, he found he couldn’t play as freely and as naturally as before.

The critics noticed it also, the old brilliance was gone.

This is someone who, as a child, had played to ecstatic crowds from Berlin to New York and then somewhere around age thirty, he suddenly lost his technique.

The story goes that despite his best efforts to try to regain his former technique, he never found it again.

His playing was still great by any standards, but that spark of pure genius, the effortless touch of the prodigy was gone.

So what changed?

Did someone take that wisdom away from his hands and fingers?

Did he wake up one day with new hands and fingers?

No, everything was essentially the same.

Still the same old body, the same hands.

What happened was he had lost the wisdom in his body.

A wisdom he had intuitively found from years of playing and experiencing as a child.

A wisdom that enabled his body to find that sweet spot where everything clicked into place to produce a perfect alignment of hands, fingers, muscles, and mind.

That wisdom had nothing to do with his body or with any innate talent.

Because when it left him, the body was still essentially the same.

And it was unconscious, because if it was conscious, he could have been able to recall it in an instant.

Imagine someone with a deep intimate knowledge of something (his own body) and of a particular body experience (playing the instrument), and yet suddenly not being able to reproduce that experience, no matter how hard he tried.

It just goes to show.

Wisdom can’t be imposed from outside.

It is an internal thing which means no one can give it to you, you’ll have to find it yourself.

It has nothing to do with a particular body or mind.

And it operates at an unconscious level, which means you can’t force it to happen at will.


The second thing

February.20. 2015

So perhaps you think you’ve found the wisdom you’re looking for, but how do you know that it is really ‘it?’

Especially if you’ve been searching a while, you’ve probably experienced a few false alarms along the way.

How do you know you’ve arrived at your goal?

The answer is in the results.

Perhaps you’re looking to play a certain technique on the guitar and for some reason, you’re unable to get what you want.

Your fingers just wouldn’t cooperate.

No matter what you do, you could not produce the effect you’re looking for.

Then one day, by accident, you change something in the way you attack the strings, or the way you hold the thumb and suddenly, voila, you’re able to produce that effect.

The change is instantaneous.

Almost miraculous.

This is what it feels like when you finally stumble onto the truth.

You will see instant results.

But the principle doesn’t only apply to the guitar.

You see the same principle at work in life.

For example, the uplifting power of wisdom creates good positive energy.

When you surround yourself with this positive energy created from your newfound wisdom, you will find that whatever you want to accomplish is suddenly easier.

Consider the carrot vs. the stick approaches.

You can try to force an outcome with a stick but it takes too much effort and involves violence which means that whatever outcome you get, if you get any, is not pretty.

Plus, you create resentment which will come back to haunt you.

But if you use the carrot, it’s effortless and the outcome is filled with positive energy.

That’s because everyone wins in the carrot approach. The other party gets to eat the carrot and you get your outcome.

The reason why you get instantaneous results is because the wisdom to accomplish what you want to accomplish was always within you.

You’re just setting it free.

That great guitar technique was always in your fingers, but may have been locked up by some misalignment in your body and by realigning your body, you’re finally setting it free.

That wisdom within your mind was always there, and by a shift in perception, you’re finally seeing it for the first time.

In other words, that wisdom you were searching for was always within you in the first place, unable to emerge, and when you finally discover the secret, the pivotal principle, you’re finally setting it free.

This is the second thing you need to know on your wisdom journey.

When you find what you’re looking for, it should feel like you’ve come home.

Everything finally feels right, no more struggle.

All the imbalances, the misalignments in your thoughts and body are suddenly resolved and now you’re able to see the whole situation perfectly.

So do not believe those who will try to sell you their ‘wisdom,’ and when you tell them that it’s uncomfortable and unnatural, they tell you to be patient, that it will take time for you to get ‘acclimated’ to it.

The truth is that true wisdom should feel right and work immediately.

You should see the results immediately.

Yes, there will usually be a transitional period, when you’re between the old and the new.

During this time, you will find yourself lapsing back into the old and the old problems will come back again.

So you want to stay vigilant and keep yourself focused on the new in the early stages, and you might have to do this consciously.

But once you solidify your new wisdom state, it should become automatic.

It will become a part of your natural state.

The period of adjustment has nothing to do with acclimating yourself to the new. Rather it’s in making sure that you do not lapse into the old.


The pivot principle

February.7. 2015

Most of the time, in wisdom journeys, you’re just wandering around, trying different options, different approaches, hoping to find the one that will bring you to your destination.

Sometimes you will get lucky and stumble onto the right path by instinct, or by accident.

Sometimes you will have someone else’s road map and know what to look out for and your journey is shortened considerably.

The problem, however, is that when you do find the ‘right’ option, how do you know it’s really the one?

It will look just like every other option. There will be nothing to indicate that this is it, this is the one that will lead you to where you want to go.

Well, there is something that will help give you a clue.

It’s what you might call the pivot principle.

The pivot principle is the one key element that will crystallize all the other elements. When you find this element, the others automatically fall into place.

You might call it the key to the kingdom.

Or the breakthrough principle.

Because it will literally unlock the door to the wisdom you’re searching for.

For instance, in guitar playing, once you find this key element, the other elements will become immediately obvious.

Let’s say you’re searching for your ideal hand position, that sweet spot where playing becomes effortless.

And you don’t know where to start—how should you play with the thumb, what angle do you hold your fingers, should you play from the left side or the right side or square against the strings?

All critical issues which have no answers.

That is until you find this key element.

And when you find it, everything else immediately falls into place.

You will know exactly what to do.

The reason is that nothing works in isolation, everything works together.

For instance, how you play with the thumb will impact your fingers, will impact the angle of your attack, will impact the direction of your strokes, which will in turn impact how you play with your thumb.

And there are no clear answers until you find that one principle that clarifies everything else.

The same principle applies in life.

Many times, you will struggle with a seemingly intractable problem until one day, almost miraculously, you stumble onto the one concept that will put everything else into focus.

And you know exactly what to do.

So most of the time, our search for wisdom is to find this one principle that unlocks all the others.

And the only way to find it is to keep searching.

To never give up.

And to understand that the journey can take years.

Sometimes I hear the word ‘frustrated’ in connection with a particular search.

‘Frustrated’ indicates that the person has certain expectations of finding what he’s looking for quickly and when he doesn’t find it, he gets ‘frustrated.’

Unfortunately, the search for wisdom does not follow any schedule, especially not one that you set. It will happen when it happens, and until it happens, you keep on searching.

This is the reason why wisdom is a rare commodity, because it takes so much time and effort.

But the payoff is immense.

Because when you find it, life (and whatever goal you’ve set for yourself) becomes effortless.

Next, the second thing you need to know on your wisdom journey.


A simple guide to embarking on a wisdom journey

January.26. 2015

Wisdom journeys are filled with pitfalls.

First, the incredible (one can say even infinite) array of possibilities out there.

Just to take one example, if you’re searching for that great guitar technique, there’re an infinite number of ways to hold your hand, to strike the strings, etc.

Or if you’re searching for success in life, there’re an infinite number of choices lying ahead of you.

How do you know what combination of factors is the right one, the one that will give you that great technique you’re searching for, or lead you to that fulfilling abundant life of your dreams?

To complicate things, there will be false prophets at every turn who will obfuscate the situation and mislead you with half-truths and/or false ‘truths.’

And some of them will be very persuasive.

How do you separate the true prophets from the imposters?

(True prophets being those who will help bring you to your destination, imposters those who will lead you astray, mostly to serve their own interests.)

To help you navigate the treacherous waters of wisdom seeking, I’ve come up with this simple guide to help you on your journey.

Keep in mind this is just a guide and not a prescription.

Before we start, let’s define what true wisdom is.

True wisdom has one basic component.

It uplifts you.

“Uplift” here has no moral connotations.

It simply means that it has a positive impact on what you do and brings you to a higher plane of existence, hence the word ‘uplift.’

For instance, in guitar playing, it makes your playing better.

In life, it helps you achieve greater success in whatever you do.

The basic premise is that when we achieve progress in what we do, we move to a higher level of existence, in other words, we’re ‘uplifted.’

An additional clarification.

The wisdom we’re talking about here is simple practical wisdom, the kind that helps you get the job done, become a better person, succeed at a venture, perhaps play better guitar…

No sagelike wisdom or anything of the sort.

So how is wisdom different from knowledge?

The first difference is the uplift component.

Knowledge can bring you up or down–it does not need to have the uplift component.

(This explains why so many smart people do dumb things. Knowledge does not equal wisdom.

Knowledge that uplifts is sometimes also called wisdom.)

The second difference is that knowledge is conscious while wisdom is mostly unconscious.

For example, being able to play the guitar requires tapping into the wisdom of your body which is unconscious.

Unconscious because it’s a part of your psyche, your being.

It operates in the background without you being aware of it.

The third difference is that knowledge comes from without while wisdom comes from within.

For example, teachers give you knowledge.

But practice gives you wisdom.

A teacher can give you the knowledge to execute a particular move but until you gain the wisdom in your body to execute that move, you will never fully understand that knowledge.

This is what the great teachers mean when they say we must look inside ourselves, not outside, for our own salvation (or enlightenment).

Next, the two things you need before you can reach your goal of attaining wisdom.


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