So, I’ve recently been reading Personal Development for Smart People, being an avid follower of Steve Pavlina, and having just finished the book.. I’ve found myself having experienced a real roller coaster of a ride.
Not least, because of how self-reflective the book is, and how it forces you to examine your life, from so many different angles, and so many different perspectives, and so many different lenses. But also, just because it truly is heavy reading. Perhaps, it’s just me, but whilst certain chapters just flowed, and I was able to read, easily and effortlessly, other chapters just totally bogged me down, and sometimes, it would take me a few days to repeatedly go over the same words, until I could move on. Ironically, as soon as I put the book down, or got past that part, I would be just fine.. which makes me wonder.. is it the book or was it me, that was putting up the resistance??
Being outside of the US, I only got an electronic version of the book, but straight away, I could feel this book had a very significant “conscious” element to it. I didn’t calibrate it, to the levels of consciousness, using Kinesiology, like David Hawkins does, in Power vs. Force, but intuitively, I’ve often noticed, that certain books, websites, and other written materials often carry a certain energy, especially if there are purposeful intentions behind what’s been created. I’ll write more about my experiences, and understandings of energy and intention around written works another time, but for now, suffice it to say, that this book felt a little “lighter”, and had an energy around it, that was perceptible.
As I started to make my way through the book, having already read the table of contents online, I was acutely aware of the correlation between the 3 Core values of Truth, Love and Power, and the overlap, between these and the core guiding principles that I’d encountered in the work of The Pachamama Alliance, and the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium.
The work of the Awakening the Dreamer symposium, is to bring forth an “environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just human presence on this planet”.
Within the symposium, Environmental Sustainability captures the essence of living in balance with the physical world, being honest about what’s really happening, and in light of that honesty, taking new actions, as a consequence. Something which having read Pavlina’s book, I believe is signifantly connected with being Truthful, in terms of what’s happening, and having an open and honest evaluation, with the forthrightness to acknowledge what’s really at play, regardless of whether it’s good or bad.
The component of the symposium that deals with Spiritual Fulfillment, deals with our own inner connection, or lack therof with others, in our day to day lives. The component of Love, that Pavlina talks about relates to the notion of connectedness, and how, once we are in our loving space, we automatically feel the connection between ourselves, and others. It is that connectedness, or absence of it, that is talked about in the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, when addressing the component of Spiritual Fulfillment, which gets discussed as the lack, and emptiness… Being devoid of meaning and connection.. Living empty and meaning less lives, which is often attributed to not “doing what you love”.
As for the Socially Just human presence, I believe that to be directly connected the the element of Power, that Pavlina discusses. A socially just world, is one in which people claim their power, and the capacity for injustice to occur is non-existent, since everyone is equally empowered. Power is not the same as force, which comes into play, when a situation becomes unjust or is unfair. And it is this very absence of Power, that is touched upon during the Symposium. Admittedly the handling of social justice, during the symposium, leans more heavily towards looking at the inequalities in the world, between people, between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots, the differences that exists because of race, and culture. To me, that is but the flip side of Power, for when power is absent, true power, then such inequalities are indeed possible.
Whilst the symposium may present each of these issues in a more global reaching light, looking at the plight of what is, and current status quo, the symposium, having been birthed a few years ago, started a conversation in the world, which I believe is being refined, and rephrased by Pavlina, in his book. Whilst I doubt there’s any strong connection between him and the work of the Pachamama Alliance, consciously, I know the two strands are directly connected. Why do I say this? Because both were born out of the same call from the earth, from Pachamama. One originated, in the Amazonian rainforest, the other in the consciusness of an individual seeking growth. Both mirror the fact that we are in a changing time. As people connect with their own innate wisdom, their own innate consciousness, they start to be able to access the consciousness of the planet too.. That is not something which is different from country to country, or by race, language, or religion. The world over, we as a humanity are sharing the planet we live in, and as we start to bridge the chasm, between the world we are in, of individual, seperate, disconnected beings, to realising that actually, we are all part of a blueprint woven through the ether of life, that collectively sustains life on this planet, we will have to look out our place in this world anew.
It seems that increasingly more and more people are waking up, in a crisis. Their lives, amounting to nothing, having acquired all the material trappings of wealth, status, and success, yet feeling hollow, and empty inside. This isn’t just co-incidence that this is happening all over the world, in this unprecedented manner. More and more people are choosing to say no. Are stepping away from what was once thought to be the “only” way, and asking anew, how can we do this differently??
From the emergence of online portals such as Kiva.org that allows you to lend money to people in developing countries directly, to Zopa.com, which allows you to lend money to each other, challenging the traditional lending cycle of the banks, people are increasingly engaging with the world on new terms, and technology is allowing them to do so in a way that breaks down the old structures, that were fixed, and impermanent. Life no longer has to follow the same patterns of previous generations, and with that comes a recognition of the fact that what has happened in the past, is not going to be sustainable going forward. With increasing global populations, and reducing available resources, it’s time to re-think the equation of life, and Pavlina’s book does a great job of thoroughly dissecting everything in your life, and helping you reconstitute it in a new direction, based on some core, and fundamental principles.
Is it the only book out there that does this? I don’t know. But it is one of the few that I’ve read that really brings Personal Development into the realm of Science, not art… Taking things step by step, in a methodical, and meticulous manner, Pavlina ruthlessly dives into each of the core values, and then builds upon them, until you’ve been cut open, and forced to bare yourself, so that you can see what’s really under your skin. Then, in the second half of the book, he slowly starts to re-build the very thing he’s dissected, providing suggestions, experiments, and his own experiences of what’s worked for him, to help find a new road out of the chaos, and confusion that might ensue, when you see your flaws for what they are, and find yourself to be openly honest about living a life that is far from ideal, in every sense of the word.
I can’t say that I’m “taken” by his style, and approach.. It’s perhaps a little too linear, and logical for my liking.. At times, it seems to lack heart. But then it’s perhaps also at the same time, providing me with an accurate mirror of myself, and my own reality, which makes it all the more unbearable, and untolerable. It’s definitely not another one of those wishy washy, self help books, or flowery, spiritual books, that’s for sure. And I’m pretty convinced, having experienced Steve Pavlina’s wisdom for a few years now, that following even just a small part of the book, will lead to tremendous growth, and success, in any area of your life. The real challenge is going to be sustaining that change, and transformation, in a world that increasingly is crumbling apart, and reading this book, could very well shake you, from your very core, destroying any sense of success and accomplishment you thought you had, whilst forcing you to openly and honestly, set a new course in life.
For me, there’s definitely many many great parts to the book, and whilst I found certain chapters unbearably tough to read, with moments when I was just falling asleep, whilst attempting to read the words on the page, I think there’s enough value in the book, that even if you only read the bits that interest you, you’ll get enough value out of it, to have made the book a worthwhile investment. I for one, will always suggest, when in doubt, listen to your heart.. Feel your way through something.. If it feels right, pursue it. If it doesn’t don’t. Simple as that.. And in time, you may be able to intuit your way through life in a more enriching and meaningful manner. For now, I don’t have a perfect answer. My life is no where near perfect. I don’t have all the outer trappings, or inner richness of perfection by any stretch of the imagination.
But I have a spirit that’s willing. Willing to live, and try, and experience. Experience life in all of it’s colours. And with that, and that alone, with my heart guiding me as my compass, I can honestly say, I’ve only ever been off course, when I’ve stopped listening to this guidance. And in time, I learn to listen to my heart again, and start to push off in a guided direction, and as if by magic, life starts to flow again. It’s not magic, it’s not co-incidence, and it’s certainly not crazy nonsense. But then my world view allows me to understand my heart as being more than just a physical organ that pumps blood around my body. I’ll definitely share a more deeper and richer understanding of my heart, and what it is for me, in a future article, but for now, let me recommend you go out and buy yourself a copy of Pavlina’s new book, if you’re at all interested in personal growth, and personal development. And if you just have something in you’re life that you want changing, or you’ve found yourself facing challenges that you just can’t overcome, then perhaps it’s time to order this book too, and who knows, six months from now, you’ll be as grateful as I am now, for Steve having taken the time to synthesise and channel his thoughts, perceptions, and experiences into this wonderful book. Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth, I recommend you order your copy today!
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