The Seven Secrets of Everything: Part 4

Congratulations, if you have read the first three parts of my blog.  If you have not, you should really go back and read the first three parts before you read Part 4.  If you have read Parts 1-3, now it is time for the last two Secrets of Everything.  Let me warn you that these last two secrets are the most difficult of all.  If you can master these two and the other five, you will truly have a glorious life.  You will live a perfect or near perfect existence.  Of course, perfection is impossible.  Thus it is more likely, you will seesaw on one or more of the Seven Secrets.  Sometimes you will do well and other times you will slip and might even fall off the see-saw.  The trick is to keep getting back on again.  Don’t give up.  Keep trying.  Remember what Gandhi said:  “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.  Full effort is full victory.”

Secret 6.  Never get sick, lose your cool or be unhappy. 

I can hear your thoughts now.  Impossible, ridiculous!  How can anyone never get sick or always be happy.  We are not always in control of what happens to us so how could anyone practice this Secret.  Totally useless!

What if you are wrong though?  What if this Secret is not useless!  Allow me to present my side before you dismiss what I have to say.  Let me explain each part of this Secret, and then you can accept or reject my arguments.   It will cost you nothing and might just be worth your time.

First of all, in respect to sickness and illness, you will get sick.  You cannot avoid it.  Nevertheless, many people are more sick and ill than other people.  Have you ever stopped to wonder why?  Some of it is certainly genetics, some environment and some culture.  However, some part of sickness is due to our own choices and decisions.  We call this lifestyle choice.  Some of us eat too much, some of us do not exercise enough, some of us have too much self-induced stress, some of us eat or drink the wrong things.  Are all of you choices wise?  Do you watch your weight?  Do you eat and drink the right foods?  Do you smoke?  Do you exercise regularly?

If you can say that your diet and exercise are exemplary, then you can blame, God, your mother or the weather the next time you are sick.  However, if you eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much and never exercise, then how do you know if you are not responsible for your own infirmary?  I am sorry but I see too many people who act as though good heath was not in their control.  It is in your control to a larger extent then you want to believe.  Make the right choices and you will see your health improve dramatically, whether or not you have good genes or not.

Next, we take being cool and being happy.  Buddha said that unhappiness is a fact of life.  Sorrow and suffering are part of the human condition. However he also said that:

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon…. If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.”  — Gautama Buddha

Our thoughts and beliefs are what we feel and are the precursors of all of our emotions.  We choose to be happy or sad.  We choose to be angry or calm.  We cannot live in a world without sorrow or a world without people who will test and challenge us.   We have no choice over the behavior of others.  We can choose how to react to these situations.  We can choose to be sad or happy.  We can choose to be angry or thoughtful.  Our choices of how we react to outside events are 100 percent in our control.  The fully responsible individual is one who chooses his actions and reactions to the events and people that are part of his/her life.   No one can make you feel or even do something unless you choose to do it.  They can kill you or they can hurt you, but they cannot make you think or feel anyway other than you choose to feel and think and act.

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take

That for a hermitage.

If I have freedom in my love,

And in my soul am free,

Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.  

 — From, To Althea, from Prison by (Richard Lovelace, 1618-1658)

 Secret 7.  Don’t let death or failure get you down. 

Some of us will know the moment of our death and some of us will not.   The only thing we all must know is that we will die.  I am 67 years old and it seems hardly a month has gone by for the past five years or so that I am not going to the card shop to buy a sympathy card.  My heart goes out to the friends and relatives of mine who have lost loved ones.  Some die way before their time as in the case of several who died in accidents or in wars.  Others live to a “ripe” old age of ninety or more and pass away at night in their beds.   Some die with great pain and others seemingly painlessly.  My father died at age 60 and my mother at age 67.  My younger sister died at age 59.  Some died or natural causes and some of “unnatural” causes.  Two of my close cousins committed suicide, one by hanging and one by gunshot.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”  — Steve Jobs

When I was diagnosed with Prostate cancer two years ago, I did not need a “wakeup” call.  I had woke-up many years before with the passing of too many loved ones to count.  I wondered whether to ignore the diagnosis and live with it or whether to have it treated and live with the after effects.  Should I go through with surgery, incontinence, impotence and would it be worth it? Or would I simply find out that the cancer had spread and further treatment was useless?  What was the quality of my remaining life worth?  Would it be one of radiation, chemo, surgery and pain killers for ten or fifteen more years or should I just live the rest of my days as best I could and let “nature” take its course.  It was not an easy choice to make.

Now that I have survived the surgery and the doctors think they have removed all the cancer (I have heard many cases of it returning), I am left to deal with the after effects and as I have joked to die in ten or twenty years from something else.  Many people would say it just was not my time.  However, I have not the slightest clue when my time is, so maybe I just got lucky or maybe modern science and medicine helped me to beat the odds.  Perhaps, it was all the prayers that many friends and loved ones said for me.

I confess I am grateful to know I will live to write at least a few more of these blogs.  Some have said that “They have not yet begun to fight.”  I have not yet left my mark on the world.  Thus, I continue to write these blogs and hope that with whatever time I have left, I can help make a positive contribution to the world and the lives of those living today and in the future.  What other reason is there for life if not to help others.  If we fail in this task, we must simply start over and over and over again.  Like with the uncertainty of death, we face the uncertainty of making a difference.  We may never know if we made a difference, but we must keep trying and we must simply have faith.

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?” –Mother Teresa

“God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.” — Mother Teresa

Time for Questions: 

What is the meaning of your life?  What value do you want to leave the world?  What would you want them to say about you at your funeral?  Do you keep trying or do you give up?  Where have you made a difference in the world?  What could you do today to make a difference tomorrow?

Life is just beginning. 

In many respects, the Seven Secrets of Everything reflect the ideas of the Eight Fold Path that Buddha described for right living.  These are summarized below in the chart.  They are broken down under Wisdom, Morality and Concentration.  I think my Seven Secrets of Everything exemplify these concepts.  I have not really found any new secrets since Buddha was here long before I was born.  Practice my Seven Secrets or follow Buddha’s Eight Fold Path and you will find the life with meaning and righteousness that all human beings seek.

eightfold-path

“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

“Furthermore, there is the case of the person who has done what is good, has done what is skillful, has given protection to those in fear, and has not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have done what is good, have done what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and I have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. To the extent that there is a destination for those who have done what is good, what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel, that’s where I’m headed after death.’ He does not grieve, is not tormented; does not weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death. — Abhaya Sutta: Fearless

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Fred
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 15:32:34

    Thanks, John. You’ve jump started my day in the right direction..towards “happiness”.
    🙂

    Reply

  2. johnpersico
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 23:54:14

    Thanks Fred, I am glad it helped. My one major effort each week but I think I am slowly getting my energy back.

    Reply

  3. Fred Broussard
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 15:47:22

    Another good work, John. That was as uplifting as scripture.
    You’ve given me a good beginning for a day along my life’s journey..again!
    Have a great day.
    Fred

    Reply

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