My friend and I agreed that everyone these days is promoting something, and we’re swamped by these promotional posts, emails, phone calls, targeted site ads, and whatever other innovations people think up. We also agreed that consumers only shell out money for what we really want, so a lot of these promotional efforts are mostly a resource drain benefiting only the postal service, which counts on mail promotion for billions in revenue per year.*

 Then I was listening to a spiritual talk in which some congregants were saying that God is the one who promotes. They meant it, however, in the sense that God is the one who advances a career. They were talking about King David and the fact that he didn’t seek the kingship, but God was the one who made him king. Nonetheless, I also had to take what they said to mean that God is the one who promotes the service or business.

 Of course we feel we have to do something to get the word out and really that would seem to be the right thing to do. But at the same time, I’m not sure that’s how people connect with goods and services. Much occurs through networking—someone mentions a book, a product, a practitioner, and you give it a shot—and we can interpret that in the “meant to be” category if it works out.

 If we have something to promote, how do we know what we should do? I think “be reasonable” might serve as an initial guide. Do what is humanly reasonable to get your name out there, to establish your brand, and to make finding you and your product or service “by accident” a simple proposition.

 On the other hand, desperation and the expenditure of more money (and time and energy) than you can afford doesn’t seem to make all that much sense.

 Let’s go back to the idea that only the people who really want what you have to offer are going to buy from you. You can’t force individuals to get on your bandwagon if they don’t honestly want to. To return to the “what’s meant to be” train of thought, why not allow whatever is meant to be to occur? Take the results of your efforts with some degree of stoicism and accept that the people who are meant to patronize you will do so and the others won’t, that pushing harder isn’t the best approach.

On Facebook some people post about themselves constantly. They’ve been told that potential customers, readers, clients want to know who they are. But what comes out often seems to be extreme narcissism, and if that’s who they are, then maybe they’ll find no payoff in presenting that quality under a spotlight.

 Relax. Let the Source, God, the one who runs the universe, do the promotion. Let’s make ourselves available by putting out the word, then take a breather. Since we can’t force the universe to cooperate with us, let’s spend a little time learning to cooperate with the universe. And have some trust.

 *(By the way if you want to opt out of some of some categories of promotional snail mail, go to Supposedly that works.)

 Not to be pushy, but maybe you want to read a short story of mine, “Civil Disobedience”:  No charge whatsoever.


Why Not Me?

Be the one.–Jerry Jenkins

 Perhaps some of you may be asking, ‘Will I be able to go that far? After all, I am not a prophet. I am not a god.’ Brothers and sisters, do not put yourselves down. Also, do not weaken the reality that exists within your being. Have faith in the greatness of God. Everything is in God’s hands.–Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (the founder of Subud)

 We think that others can do it—whatever “it” is, but that we won’t be able to because we’re not enough; we’re not up to the task or the realization. But that’s because we see ourselves as weak little individuals, and in thinking that as weak little individuals we probably can’t accomplish anything, we’re somewhat correct.

 Somewhat, though certainly ego can bolster itself, puff itself up, and do many things.

 But in reality, the doer is never the little self, but is always the Self, because that is all that even exists. Hard to grasp except as an intellectual concept, yes.

 But as Bapak explains, a reality lies within us that is capable of greatness. Suppose we try to accept that possibility a little more than we do and open ourselves to what might emerge.

 A sense of inadequacy is as ego based as is a sense of pride. It starts with a definition of ourselves that’s not necessarily accurate. Maybe we’re just as capable as everyone else of fulfilling all the human basics and then some. Why not me? Why do I think I’m so very different from everyone else that I, in particular, am excluded from an activity, a process, a realization that other humans are suited to. These are mental prohibitions more than anything.

 Sure we think some people have an easier time at some things than others—or so it appears. But maybe that’s not the truth exactly. Maybe we have simply decided how being able to do something, to understand something, to have an imagination, to have friends, to attract a mate, even to be struck by enlightenment will show up. Maybe our picture of what the initial steps of these look like is a false conception. Could it be that others who apparently do well at something actually had the same struggle that we’ve had but simply continued on nonetheless, until they came up smelling of roses?

 Why can’t we be the ones who are written up in the history books or whose stories are the basis of great inspiration to others? What makes us so willing to accept the impossibility of our own capacity?

 The process may be different for each of us, and yet our evolution can be equally assured as the ones who stand on stage with great pizzazz. Maybe our development is a quieter one and takes place deep inside in a more hidden way until we burst forth just as amazingly as those others who seemed to do it all better than we ever could.

 Why not me?

 No reason why not. No reason at all. Carry on, and move forward with those yearnings to propel you.

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That the drive to succeed is a hallmark of our times isn’t any great secret. And watching a bit of the Academy Awards the other day made me feel that the only people who have significant existence are the Hollywood stars. Millions of us had our eyes glued on these people as if they were the only people in the world, and seemingly they are. Most important, of course, was what they were wearing.

 Some of these people do seem very nice, and we like them (though we don’t know them), and we wouldn’t hesitate to join them for lunch if asked (but we won’t be asked).

 They’re sort of more real to us than ourselves.

 Because we are the little people who don’t feel we count. And maybe we don’t count in a world of so many billions, a world that glorifies fame.

 We say this isn’t so, of course. Though maybe it’s true. We could never get what these people get, the adulation, the respect, and all kinds of free expensive stuff. This is a life that most of us will never live, but that apparently so many of us crave.

 “If I just had that, my life would have meaning.”

 Success doesn’t have to be the same thing for everyone. We don’t all want to be actors. I, myself, know a lot of writers, well published, published and just starting out. Who wouldn’t want to be a best-selling author? Or win The Voice. Or sign with the Jets, Mets, the Met, or New York City Ballet. Life would be good. Some people even want to be famous spiritual teachers—definitely a misunderstanding somewhere in this ambition, huh?

 But what does everyone really want?

 I think we want to be recognized, to exist in the eyes of others, to be what we always hoped we could be but never really felt we were, a person of importance.

 Half of everyone’s behavior is a cry to be noticed, even and maybe especially, the people who seem to want to blend into the woodwork (because they don’t know how to shine).

 Yet… And you knew that the yet was coming here.

 All of this striving, all the results, positive or not so positive, are nonsense.

 Success, real success, can take place on a dung heap. In a railroad apartment on the Lower East Side with a shared bathroom in the hall. On the street in Cartagena, Colombia, where the successful one sleeps on the sidewalk after begging for a bite of bread. Or in an Art Deco palace in Himachal Pradesh, India, or a celebrity mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

 So what is success? Success is discovery of who and what we are, the integration of the inner and the outer so that the personality and the true core self are one, so that the personality can serve the true core self and the true inner self can liberate the confused and impermanent outer self.

 And we are on our way to success because that’s the only destination.

 Success is self-acknowledgement, self-recognition, self-adoration without ego.

 The distance to travel isn’t as far as we may think.

 Easy to say and hard to do? And yet…yet, it happens to someone every day. Have you heard the saying “why not me?”

 What to do while waiting for enlightenment? Read a novel.

 It won’t do you any harm.

Persistence Pays

In my last piece, I told people not to hold on—and I meant it. But I didn’t intend for all of us to let go of everything we’re working toward—although letting go of long-cherished goals, and even mastery, has its place as well. I do, indeed, believe in the familiar old adage “persistence pays.”

We have to persevere in many areas, of course: losing weight, saving money, learning a skill, getting an education, holding together a valued relationship (many precautions apply here, as you might guess), healing ourselves of whatever plagues us, etc. etc.

As Winston Churchill (age 67) said at the Harrow School in 1941 when the war was on: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Clearly, here, in one of the great speeches of history, Prime Minister Churchill is talking about an urgent matter, a matter that resulted in his being known as the outstanding leader he undoubtedly was. For England to give in to Germany was unthinkable. The aim in fighting the war and the threat of the outcomes should England lose were always on Churchill’s mind.

Similarly, we have issues in our own lives that may spark a sense of ongoing urgency. We have objectives that are worthy of persistence—the need to heal an illness, for example. Actor Christopher Reeve, after a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, became as well known for his efforts at recovery and for championing the cause of such recoveries, as he was for his acting career. Though Reeve never did walk again, he made unusual strides. He said, after a study of his brain waves that showed his incredible resilience, “…there are no absolutes, and patients should be encouraged to push as far as they can.” (

This is a different kind of “holding on” than maintaining a death grip on what we think is ours or that we should have, but which doesn’t really belong to us.

But how do we know the difference?

I don’t think determining when you should let go versus when you should persist is so very difficult.

If other people are kicking you in the shins and saying, “Let go. You’re hurting me,” then very likely you should let go. (Not in all cases, of course—just actual harm to someone else.)

If the only person you might damage by sticking with your objective is you, then you have to determine how badly you could injure yourself in the process of continuing, and how realistic you believe achieving your goal is. I’m thinking of people who keep on keeping on when their chance of getting anywhere is zero. Of course, that’s totally in my own view, whereas they might sacrifice everything and actually succeed beyond their (and my) wildest dreams. Or they might learn enormous amounts about their passion and about self-discipline even if they never get anywhere at all.

So don’t listen to me. Fight the good fight if you’re led to—though possibly you’ll be better off letting go every once in a while and seeing if your dream returns to you.

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