Before I begin, let me say how good it is to be back. It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 months, but it has. And while the break was the exact room I needed, it’s wonderful to be here again. I’m refreshed and renewed. If you haven’t signed up for the automatic updates, please do so at the end of the post.
We’re about to start a new chapter in our journey.
Rooms 444-450: Become a Pioneer
“What is now proved, was once only imagined.”
I think that when a man pulls that first grey hair from his ear, he becomes more philosophical, his eyes tilting up to the stars, suddenly pondering the great mysteries of life—what makes the world spin and our hearts beat.
At least that’s the cliché, isn’t it? We look in the mirror, don’t recognize our aging bodies and then go looking for who we really are. That or buy a Corvette.
But it’s not just old age and a wrinkled body that sends us searching for answers. Being young and rebellious will get you there as well. So will a sky full of stars, a baby being born, or anything that makes you feel the miraculous.
And then, of course, there’s despair and hardship. Things like cancer, losing your house, or finding out your husband is in love with someone else. Earthquakes. Unemployment. A drunk driver. It’s all those punch-in-the-gut, phone-ringing at 4 a.m., earth-shattering moments, when life seems absurd and random.
When our backs are against the wall, that’s when we go back to church, start meditating, or get in a van and head for the mountain top with our Eckhart Tolle books. You can call this the “suffering pioneer syndrome”, or “going west” when it’s too damn miserable to stay where we are.
Of course, it really doesn’t matter what causes us to become seekers. It doesn’t matter if it’s a miraculous sunset, a follicle in our ear, or sorrow in our gut, it’s all the same nagging ache of discontent—that inner knowingness that there is infinitely more than what we can see and touch.
The problem with using sunsets or discontent as the spiritual firecracker in our shoes is this: as soon as they disappear into the horizon or the pain goes away, we often put away our spiritual telescopes, turn on the TV, and start binge watching on Netflix.
We let our “inner pioneer” go to sleep, and join in step with the rest of the busy world, convincing ourselves that knowing all the answers is beyond this lifetime. Maybe that’s why faith was invented, so we don’t need to worry about knowing. We can just believe instead. And I’m not knocking faith, or religions that call for it. Faith is a critical component of our journey. Like trust, it’s a knowingness that connects us to our Source and the infinite power of the Universe. But if we’re not careful, faith can lead us to play it safe. It can make us lazy, turning the job over to a third party.
Faith, like trust, works best when it’s combined with curiosity, action, and responsibility, which is why virtually every spiritual leader from Buddha to Jesus has said that all the answers we seek lie within. In other words, we were born to be pioneers, and to seek out the mysteries of the Universe for ourselves.
But if that’s true, then why is it that most of us need to be dropped to our knees before we start to move? Why must we wait until a hurricane strikes and we’re standing on the roof of our house as it floats away before we ask ourselves the question, “Is there more to life than this?”
I suspect that for many of us, it’s because we have been taught that the answers aren’t accessible to us until we’re facing a white light at the end of our life, or that truth is something that is doled out by those who are much wiser than us.
Of course, there’s another reason. We don’t have time. We get busy, preoccupied and distracted. There are kids to feed, bodies to exercise, and paychecks to earn.
And while all that might be perfectly true, it’s what ancient traditions call Maya, or the illusion of life. It’s when we start to believe that our everyday routines are the reason we’re here on Earth. It’s believing that we’re only here to find a mate, raise children, make a living, and retire well.
But in reality, these are only things that help us on our real journey. They’re the books and the classroom, not the wisdom and truth. They’re the path, but not the enlightenment.
I know that’s a lonely thought. You mean my booming business isn’t the brass ring, my spouse isn’t the center of the Universe, my kids aren’t the reason I wake up in the morning?
While frightening and admittedly uncomfortable, this awareness is really the first step to finding truth. Fortunately, it’s a step that also puts us on a path that will help us enjoy our lives even more. Knowing we’re part of something larger than our tiny world not only liberates us from the illusion of life, but it creates an even greater reverence and love for the people in our life, and our mission here on Earth. I am a better husband and father because I know this.
Obviously we don’t have to go looking for meaning if we don’t want to, anymore than those around us should. We’re all on the same road, heading in the same direction. It makes no difference what on-ramp we get on at, or how fast we go once we’re on the freeway.
However, should that nagging discontent grow, we can choose to become pioneers at any moment in our lives. We don’t need to be in a crisis, or at the beginning or end of our lives, we just need to believe there is more to life, then go searching for it.
Rooms 444-450: Become a Pioneer
This room is not about becoming pioneers. It’s about remembering we’re pioneers.
We come into this world as wide-eyed children, accepting nothing and questioning everything—curious and bold, seeking adventure and answers with every step. But somewhere along the line we grow up, get busy, serious and focused. We trade in curiosity and boldness for certainty and comfort, unaware that we are putting ourselves on a collision course with discontent.
Finding our way back to our original path is challenging and not for the faint of heart. You could say it’s like being on the Star Trek Enterprise, which requires a fierce desire to “boldly go where no one has gone before.” But that’s not entirely true.
Plenty of people have gone before. In fact, there is a world of enlightened beings out there who have discovered all kinds of incredible truths. Start looking for your own truths and I guarantee they’ll start bumping into you at the grocery store.
And to be clear, getting back on this pioneer highway isn’t about looking for tunnels, or lights, or angels, or even portholes into other dimensions, although it could be. It’s about being unafraid to walk into darkness, look up at the sky and ask a question that matters. A question that moves the needle in your life.
More than that, it’s about accepting that there is more to the world than we can see, hear or touch. And in keeping with the re-energized and continuing mission of The Other 999 Rooms, it’s about accepting that we were born into a house with a 1000 rooms, but mostly live in one.
Unfortunately, nobody can tell you where to begin your search. You can’t just Google the mystery of the universe, anymore than you can punch in the GPS coordinates for finding enlightenment.
However, there are qualities of character that we can adopt, and skills we can cultivate. We can live the life of a spiritual pioneer, and then wait for the universe to sweep us off our feet and take us to places we never imagined.
Here’s how we can start:
We can accept silence into our lives, with the knowledge that right this minute the Universe could be whispering the Holy Grail of secrets into our ears, but if the world around us is blaring with noise, nothing new is going to make its way in. From this moment forward, cultivate an appreciation for silence—less radio, TV and internet, but also less fear, doubt, worry, and all the inner chatter that keeps us from hearing what we were meant to hear.
We can also sit in silence. Start with two minutes, five minutes, then ten. Add a minute a week, or a minute a month. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we learn to pause, breathe and find comfort with the silence until we are still enough to hear what we were meant to hear.
We can transform silence into contemplation. Stillness is fine, but contemplation is active and puts us in the center of our own orbit, turning imagination into a bridge that connects us with our inner worlds. Don’t overthink it. Forget the pillows and postures and palms in the air. For now, just do it as you do it. There’ll be time later to turn yourself into a yogi. In your mind’s eye, start in one room, then slowly expand your vision until you see yourself in another room, and then another.
We can ask “Why is this happening?” every chance we get. The universe doesn’t give all the answers at once. It’s a puzzle, which begins with an inquisitive mind. Not just why am I here on Earth, but why do I keep blowing the same tire on my car, or how come I get a rash every time a certain person walks into the room? No question is too small or insignificant. The small puzzle always connects to the larger one, just as the moment always connects to eternity.
We can look in places we don’t want to look. That means in corners, behind the couch, and under the bed. It’s fine to seek out the secrets of infinity, but what does it mean if we can’t take ten metaphorical steps into the attic of our own house. Seeking truth means being unafraid to explore all the parts of our lives, which means putting a microscope to all the crap in our world, and even more, to all our hidden dreams and passions. Follow your life closely and it will take you to where you need to be.
And finally, we can ask for more. We can’t have what we don’t want and desire with every fiber of our being. And if we don’t ask—which is really looking—we’ll end up nowhere, or in a place we never intended to go. Even worse, we’ll end up in the same place we started.
This is what it means to seek out The Other 999 Rooms.
Right now, we’re at 450 rooms. We’ve taken a small breath on this journey, but there’s so much more to see, and endless more rooms to explore.
Anita Moorjani, in her beautiful book, “Dying To Be Me,” describes humanity’s search for the riddles of the universe like we were walking into an enormous, never-ending warehouse, using only a flashlight.
To become a pioneer, we need to be bold enough to walk into that warehouse and brave enough to switch on the full power of every light we own.
It’s time to turn on the spotlight and let the real show begin.
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