My name is Dieter, and this is what I do. In one way or the other, this has always been the truth about me. I come from a long line of spiritual teachers, and from a very early age I started training to be a part of the family business. I was good at it, and I think I was helping people. I was on track to be the leader of a big church, and I was exceeding the expectations that had been placed on me. And then something happened.
I walked away. I began to realize that there was a lot of life that I wasn't experiencing, and by the same token a fair number of folks who would never hear what I had to say. Put another way, I think that for something to be truly meaningful, it has to apply to everybody, not just people in one specific situation or community. So I decided to jump the fence.
I must have taken a hundred odd jobs. I worked at a record store, I answered phones, I did bookkeeping, I designed websites. I even sold used cars for a while. I was willing to do whatever it took to feed my family, and, to be honest, it felt good to sweat a little.
To be sure, there were some tense times when I didn't know what was going to happen next. But I began to realize that those transitions were educational and even healing. I learned that when I let go --at first because there was no other choice, but gradually as a result of deliberate action-- and trusted, I was taken care of in surprising and beautiful ways.
I learned how to get out of life's way, and by and by I focused more on the gifts I could give and less on what would happen or how I'd be compensated. Along the way I uncovered something magical. Whatever you're doing, finding something you can be passionate about will make you greedy for truth and allergic to pretense.
When you've been touched by meaning and you give yourself over to it, you can be a success in any undertaking, because you'll be truly present. I got raises and promotions. With no real background or training (my degree is in Theology, if you must know), I rose to the top of whatever organization I was a part of. And, when I'd learned and taught all I could, my old jobs and relationships went away and I slid right into new ones, sometimes before I even knew what was going on.
Wherever I found myself, people found me. Invariably folks came to me with a hunger to grow, to find passion, to live deliberately. And as I worked to help them, and saw them find victories of their own, I realized that my life's calling had been right where I'd left it all along.
I'm here to help you find a life that you love, one that feeds you instead of making you feel tired. We're all in this together. When you win, so do I, and so does the world.
Like I said, this is what I do. I've been writing and teaching about it for a long time now, and have decided to put some of my early writings together as the book you're reading now. Some of this is a little rough around the edges, but I hope you'll enjoy it. Thank you for going on this journey with me.
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
That’s Kafka. But you knew that. It’s a great quote, and the odds are excellent that, if you’re the kind of person who reads what I write, you’ve run across it before. The quote gets shared a lot because it feels true; it scratches the “consider the lillies of the field” itch and reminds us that the universe takes care of its own. So often success comes not through trying to force an outcome, but rather by learning how to get out of the way.
Yes, of course there’s something to be said for hard work. But intention is important here. If you work because you believe in lack, because you’re trying to fill a hole, because you’re afraid, you’re never going to get anywhere. On the other hand, if you get in touch with something inside you that feels so profound, so beautiful, so true that you can’t help but take action, you’re on the right track.
Getting there requires silence and stillness. Happiness, growth, success, prosperity, heroism, revolution depend on a metaphorical trip to the wilderness, as you know from every hero story you’ve ever read. So what happens when we can’t sit still?
How many stimulus-free moments have you had in the past week? They’re increasingly difficult to come by. The next time you’re in a restaurant glance up from your smartphone for a second and count how many folks are texting (or tweeting, or instagramming a picture of their nachos to share on Facebook). Count the number of kids who are playing games or watching videos on their parents’ mobile devices.
Does your television rock you to sleep at night? Does a clock radio (or the digital equivalent) wake you up in the morning?
Same here. None of these things are bad in and of themselves. But the cumulative effect is a culture that seems to be afraid of silence. Here’s my theory: when we’re still and quiet, when we’re present, we eventually encounter the truth about ourselves. I think that some folks are convinced that what they might find there isn’t worth the trip, so they rush to fill any space that might be created before something dangerous happens.
That “I’m not okay, you’re not okay” worldview is reinforced by all kinds of institutions for all kinds of reasons.
But they’re wrong.
You and I have seen moments of genuine heroism, grace, and beauty. Too many to ignore. You and I know what love feels like. The problem isn’t that we’re inherently inferior. The problem is that there are too many things getting in the way of letting that light shine.
People feel angry, hurt, afraid, or bored as a response to an excess of layers of abstraction between their current experience and the truth of who they are. Instead of tossing some of that baggage aside, some folks reach for some kind of distraction, superficial validation, sense gratification. Of course, that’s just adds layers, and the problem intensifies. Maybe that’s the beginning of addiction. It’s definitely the reason it’s hard to quit playing Candy Crush, even when you’ve got a term paper due.
Instead of reaching for the morphine button, sit with the boredom, the misery, the frustration for a minute and see what it has to tell you. If you can’t be YOU when you’re bored, you can’t get it from a metaphorical bottle.
There is something about you that is so beautiful, so true, so unbelievably world-changingly awesome that it, and you, are required by the universe. Getting to a place where you can express it requires nothing but your stillness.
What can you turn off today?
I'm re-reading Doctor Cady's brilliant How I Used Truth, and ran across one of my favorite quotes:
"God will make of us spiritual Giants if we will but take away all limits and give Him an opportunity."
There it is. Before you take that next step, speak that next word, linger another second in that job or relationship, ask yourself if it is going to fortify your limitations or tear them down.
What can you do to let go of a little fear and build a little trust today?