This is topic The Science of Self Realization in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
I borrowed the thread title from a book I bought from a Hare Krishna dude at an outdoor music festival. He was selling it for $7. I was in a whimsical mood and thought "seven dollars for self-realization! What a bargain!" It turned out to be a really wise and fascinating book by a holy man. Not at all a nutjob like I was expecting. And I like the title.

This thread isn't about that book, though. It's about a book that's brought me more deep insight and self-realization than any book I've ever read. It's put out by my church for the instruction of missionaries. It's called Preach My Gospel.

Wait! Before you go, listen to this. The book's biggest value is not in the things it teaches but in the questions it asks. And in its margins. Throughout the book there are fat lined margins, and even whole lined pages interspersed. And embedded in the text are lots of interesting questions that have prompted me to dig deep and come up with some answers that surprised me. Along the way I found so much inspiration and excitement about my life, so much enthusiasm and eagerness to live life in a drastically fuller, richer, higher, and better way, that I'm prompted to share it all with you guys, my true family, my jeesh.

I want to share my answers, but even more do I want to share the questions. And to hear YOUR answers. I think it might make a very cool thread.

Okay, so, a few disclaimers. Cynicism is something I expressly choose to abolish from my worldview. So if starry-eyed optimism nauseates you, this may not be the thread for you. If looking forward with a perfect brightness of hope sounds stupid to you, then I doubt you'll enjoy what's coming next. However, regardless of your own slant on life, I want to hear your answers to these open-ended questions. PARTICULARLY if you view life very very differently than me, I have a burning curiosity to know what you think about these topics. Whether your take be funny, silly, wry, cynical, sorrowful, despairing, or exceedingly hopeful like mine, I think it will be utterly fascinating to hear what you have to say.

So, without further ado, I will close this opening post and get on with the first topic.

[ July 30, 2007, 08:06 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
I'm going to adapt these questions so that they apply to anyone of any or no faith, not just missionaries or Latter-day Saints. I'm going to put the actual questions in boldface, and quoted (though I'm paraphrasing) so that they stand out in the thread.

So the first topic is this:

What is your purpose? What is your life about? What is your mission statement? What is it you're trying to accomplish with your existence?
(For those following along in their books, I skipped the introduction and went straight to chapter 1.)
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
Here's my answer to the first question, that I scrawled in the margins of this chapter.

1. (Being a geek, I decided to number my points.) Love is the first most important principle!

2. Listen with all your mind, heart, and might. (I'm addressing myself, here, a convention that's already rather nauseating. Probably the weak-stomached should just skip straight to the Add Reply box from this point.) You can't love someone unless you know them, and you can't understand them unless you listen.

3. Pray daily, hourly, at every opportunity, while eating, when waiting, each morning and evening, while traveling, while waiting for water to boil. Bathe in the fountain of life and spirit. Refresh your soul, renew your feelings and sensitivity. Regain strength from the infinite source.

4. Read and Study all knowledge from the best books.

5. Be Diligent and Devoted to make good progress. Do not waste time in idle or low-quality pursuits but make every day count. Every hour of ever day accomplish something that matters to you.

6. Repent. Be teachable, remember the wrongs that you've done and strive to redress them. Rebuild damaged relationships. Lay a broken heart and a contrite spirit at the Lord's feet each day.

7. Forgive. Let go of hurts and injuries and be healed and made whole.

8. Keep Promises to yourself and others.

9. Practice Excellence in all you do.

10. Remember Who you Are, heir to the kingdom. To whom much is given, from her will much be expected.

11. Duty. Those over whom you have power deserve your very best service, efforts, respect, love, and goodness. Whatsoever you do to the least of these...

12. Have Faith. Be not ready to condemn or give up. Stay the course, persevere, look forward with a perfect brightness of hope.

13. "Humility means that one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others... Nonviolence means not to put others into distress... Tolerance means that one should be practiced to bear insult and dishonor from others... Simplicity means that without diplomacy, one should be so straightforward that one can disclose the real truth even to an enemy... Steadiness means that one should be very determined to make spiritual progress... Self control means that one should not accept anything which is detrimental to the path of spiritual progress." These are the qualities of the wise soul, as listed in the Bhagavad Gita. Strive to embody these qualities.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
An interesting aside (to me) is that I chatted a while with the Hare Krishna dude from whom I bought the eponymous book, and we discussed various cool elements of Hindu thought such as nonattachment, karma, and our desires for the illusory material things of this world. Then I coughed up the seven smackeroos and went off to listen to some sublime tunes in the park while sampling this book (the Krishna book, not the LDS one, of course). Anyway, much later I found out that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness sells tons of similar titles, and the going rate for them is $5. So it was with much hilarity that I realized my unattached unwordly monk was raking in 40% above the going rate. It became even more of a bargain, though, because in addition to the book -- which was excellent -- I also got a great belly laugh. Wherever that monk (or non-monk) may be, I wish him well. [Big Grin]

Being an uber-geek, I have written my mission statement and goals once before, and I happened to find it on my hard drive. I'm going to paste it here verbatim, and see what points overlap. All the caveats above apply here doubly. [Big Grin]

Mission Statement

• Love

Love people and animals, take good care of them, respect them, respect their free agency and choices, appreciate them as they are, enjoy their company, promote their happiness and well being, share their joys and sorrows.

• Learn

Understand how everything works, study science, math, and liberal arts, read good books, see good art, listen to good music, study history, languages, all of human knowledge, advance in engineering knowledge, pursue formal studies where possible.

• Make

Build useful and beautiful things. Express joy, wonder, hope, love, acceptance, beauty, awe, terror, pain, humility, and inspiration through the things you make. Write, sing, paint, play music, create excellent things, run, dance, pray, meditate, be.

• Grow

Increase in self control, humility, nonviolence, simplicity, tolerance, faith, hope, love, and joy, progressing always in an upward spiral.


• Human species survives for the next few hundred years.

• War becomes rare or nonexistent.

• Oppressive governments become a thing of the past. Basic human and animal rights are respected by all in authority everywhere.

• Adequate nutrition and clean water become available for all humans and domestic animals.

• Mass extinction of species is halted.

• Space is explored and colonized.

• Humans begin to honor the implied contractual relationship between ourselves and domestic animals.

• Prejudice based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, creed, and gender, is eliminated.

• Every child grows up loved.

• Honesty, openness, truth becomes the norm in public life. Lies and “spin” no longer rewarded or respected.

• Taxes are eliminated as governments build endowment funds to provide their own operating expenses out of interest earned by the fund.

(Okay, I know these are grandiose, but I can't help it. The book (not either of the books I mentioned above but yet a third book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"), told me I had to be honest and tell what my true goals in life are. And I have to do what books say, don't I? So I was and did. I don't have to accomplish these single-handedly, obviously. But I would like to begin things that were regenerative, that kept building under their own momentum. I would like to start things that could snowball eventually into these outcomes. I would like to plant seeds that could someday bear these fruits.)

[ July 30, 2007, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
Suddenly my goal of publishing a novel seems kind of puny. I don't care. That's my goal and I'm sticking to it.
Posted by Qaz (Member # 10298) on :
Tatiana, I could not find this book or booklet online. Can you give more detail about its title and author? Or was it just made within your ward? (I am not LDS but it sounds worth a look.)
Posted by Eduardo St. Elmo (Member # 9566) on :
I wholeheartedly agree with everything stated above. (including AvidReader's post)

As to my purpose in life? Well, it's surprisingly simple: to love, learn and teach.
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
'Preach My Gospel' is the new Missionary Training Manual.

You probably can't order it online, but if you have a local LDS meetinghouse, you can request one from there.

Or from a pair of missionaries.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
Qaz, you can order it online. The url keeps messing up when I try to post a link, though. Go here then enter Preach My Gospel into the search box. It's the last one on the list, Item number 36617000, the one that's not French or braille or whatever. Six dollars for one, or if you have 21 friends who also want one, you can pool your funds and pay only $4 each. [Smile] Shipping is usually free when you order church materials.

(I'm paraphrasing the questions to make them applicable to a more general audience, so don't be surprised when they don't match exactly.)

AvidReader, I like about your goal that it's so achievable and well-defined. It is easy to see just what needs to happen in order for it to come to pass. I think I can learn from this to make my goals more specific and bring them more into my immediate sphere of influence.

Eduardo, I love about your purpose that it's so easily expressed. I love that it's all verbs with you as the actor. My purpose seems overly verbose by comparison. [Smile] Reading yours, I want to pare mine down to essentials. To have it be straightforward and eloquent.

Also, as Scott said, any LDS missionaries you happen to see would likely be delighted to order you a copy of the book. [Smile]

[ July 31, 2007, 10:47 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]
Posted by Eduardo St. Elmo (Member # 9566) on :
Well, Tatiana, I do have to admit that this is just one way of expressing my goals. In any case I haven't gotten around to the teaching that much, but the other two are fairly simple to accomplish IMO.

Also one must remember that "everything that is simple is theoretically false, while everything that is complicated is practically useless." To get past this dilemma, one needs to be able to state the same ideas both simply and in a more complicated fashion.
Posted by vonk (Member # 9027) on :
What is your purpose? What is your life about? What is your mission statement? What is it you're trying to accomplish with your existence?
Well, I don't think my purpose or goals are nearly as grand as yours Tatiana, and maybe a little less simple than Eduardo's.

My purpose it to enjoy myself to the fullest. I want to be happy and content 100% of the time. I know this isn't possible, but I feel that if I am always working towards this goal I will be constantly improving. Now, I know this sounds selfish, but being happy, to me, includes making the people around me happy, raising happy children, and having a happy spouse. In order for me to be happy 100% of the time, everyone around me has to be happy 100% of the time. Again, I know this isn't really feesible, and that other emotions are necessary to live a balanced life. If I shoot for the moon, even if I don't hit it, hopefully I'll hit higher than I would have aiming for a realistic target.
Posted by Omega M. (Member # 7924) on :
I don't know if I've given myself a purpose. Probably my highest goal is to marry a woman that I would find endlessly fascinating and would be able to get ever closer to in understanding, so that we'd ultimately feel like extensions of each other---in some way that wouldn't be sloppy and sentimental.
Posted by MattP (Member # 10495) on :
I'm more or less where vonk is.

At to goals, there's nothing wrong with grandiose goals, but you've also got to have a plan. What are you going to do to encourage the exploration of space and when are you going to do it? A goal needs to be something you can, as an individual, work towards, not just something that you'd like to happen.
Posted by Qaz (Member # 10298) on :
Mission = vision + action, I have heard.

I create a world of (quality) by doing (action).
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
All right! Time for the next question. I'm about to sleep so I will post only the question tonight, and defer my answer until later.

What do I want to study and teach? Of all the things there are to be learned, what should I focus on learning? Of the many things I teach those around me, consciously or unconsciously, every day, which things do I most want to convey? How can I improve as a teacher and learner? What things matter most of all the things we can teach and learn?

Posted by pooka (Member # 5003) on :
My overall life mission is to give hope to young people who lack it. I think the main way I'm supposed to go about this is through writing. This came to me when I was praying about whether to marry my husband and I decided that while the conduit of pure intelligence was open, I would ask the Lord if he had any other ideas for me.

But I kind of have a problem finishing things.
Posted by AvidReader (Member # 6007) on :
I want to explore relationships in my writing. I don't think most people my age have any clue how they're supposed to work. My friends (one of whom is now divorced, btw) looked at me like I was out of my mind when I said I considered a relationship another job. They couldn't believe that I'd schedule time with my sig-o or plan to try new things together. They all thought these things should just happen.

Part of the problem is that I don't think we recognize our bad relationships. We don't have a lot of standards to compare them to - unless you count everyone's frequently divorced parents.

I know somewhere there are people who got married, dealt with their problems like committed grown-ups, and stayed married forever, but I don't know them. No one I know knows these people. So maybe I can make some up and contrast them with the relationships I actually see and the folks like me who haven't seen it can learn something.
Posted by vonk (Member # 9027) on :
What do I want to study and teach? Of all the things there are to be learned, what should I focus on learning? Of the many things I teach those around me, consciously or unconsciously, every day, which things do I most want to convey? How can I improve as a teacher and learner? What things matter most of all the things we can teach and learn?
I think the most important thing to learn and to help others learn is common courtesy and basic human decency. If everyone in the world practiced these basic tenants many of today's problems would be absent. Obviously I'm not an expert at either, but I tend to think I'm pretty good, and when I learn a new thing that is generally thought of as polite, or find out a particular comment or action garners a positive response in others, I try to utilize it as much as possible. I think that if everyone at least made an effort to be nice to the people around them, to be sincere in their emotions and still deliver them in a copasetic way, and to listen and give aid when possible, we would all be much happier with the earth, and the earth would be much happier with us.

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