Growth is optional.
We all grow older in age, but growing as an individual and a human being, growing in wisdom and growing through experiential knowledge — is entirely optional.
Frankly it is a choice.
A simple free will choice you, and only you, can make. A choice that will dictate the future of your Life from now and forever forward. It is a difficult choice because every experience, every thought, every relationship, and every encounter we experience in life gives us the opportunity to grow, whether in a negative or in a positive way — but it’s up to us to internalize these learnings and absorb the attendant growth.
So make this choice out of your own Free Will, if you are interested in growing up a bit more than your driver’s licence or your professional status and your pay grade states. This type of growth is not age related but rather intelligence related. You grow by getting smarter, more effective, more honest with yourself and others and certainly far more impactful.
This is the type of Growth all philosophers, writers and religious people rhapsodize about, when they say go out in the world and try to find the God within. I agree. You are Godlike, so act like it. So go ahead and grow. Grow at will, and grow as much as you like. It is an easy difficult decision to take. And like all such Zen like koans you best simplify the demands on your queue of decision making priorities.
Have this choice and invest the time to start doing it each and every day, starting from the simple decision to be happy in your present state of being and use the stress necessary to move past that simple state of acceptance. Then it is that an amazing vista opens up for you. This is the possibility to grow and fly beyond the nest of your familiar comforts.
Growth allows you to see other worlds and intimately experience other world views, because “change” is nothing but Growth, and when it comes from an imminently personal experience – this is the most powerful force in the Universe. I want to remind you these days that Syria’s war, and her ravaged children, seen around us in pictures, as victims, and victors, and as refugees, or combatants, is so much on the minds of many people. Syria from today’s civil war carnage, to the Syrian refugee crisis, and with Aleppo and Damascus under bombing and war seize, its’ hard to imagine that at a distant time a couple of Millennia ago, one of the most shattering instances of personal growth took place on a road right here.
Because it was back then and there, in Assyria (Syria) and on the road to Damascus, almost two thousand years ago, on a highway that many people traveled towards this already ancient and glorious capital city — that the entrepreneurial financier Paul “Saul of Tarsus” a fierce Tax Collector and a Roman Citizen “experienced growth” while traveling on horse drawn carriage, with a retinue of bodyguards, and clerks carrying the treasured loot of his tax collecting franchise, that was granted to him by the Roman Emperor, and that he collected assiduously from the poor people and the peasants of the plentiful lands of Judea and Samaria and Assuria… And it was at that simple moment of reflection that we all experience when tired while traveling in comfort, and we let our mind wonder between sleep and wakefulness in that state of meditative twilight between the mind and the subconscious drifting off — that “Paul of Tarsus” the Tax Collector and Business Assayer, experienced a strong dose of “Growth.”
Paul thought and therefore grew. He questioned the merits of the Law and the Injustice of discriminating amongst the taxpayers, punishing those that had called themselves “Christos” and were members of this new illegal religion that was different than the Romans allowed to exist in the lands of Palestine and Judea of his day. His job was to inflict as much misery upon them as possible, hoping that they will rejoin the old familiar faith of the Olympian Gods.
Yet at this time, Pauls’ life was changed because his heart was heavy, and under the stress of his actions — he decided to grow, and that spurt of growth in wisdom, intentionally changed his Life in amazing ways. That is the miracle of Paul’s enlightenment. Free Will to Grow and Change. Paul stopped the carriage and got out amongst the Roman soldiers accompanying him, and he lamented the persecution of the Christians who were taxed triple than what other taxpayers were paying, because their religion of Love was unapproved. Yet it was Love that grew in the heart of Paul as he was seized by an idea so powerful that He Changed in the middle of the Highway to Damascus. And indeed he changed and saw the light. Because he reckoned that he must have been blind to not have been able to see the Light a moment sooner than this.
You see, wondrous things happen when you decide to grow, and allow space in your heart to change. Because all true change starts from the heart.
And in Paul’s heart the serious injustice of his work took it’s toll and he relented and changed by allowing himself to grow and let Love come in from the broken pieces of his heart: Paul says, “God will be all in all.” If Christ is truly the “savior of the world” then God’s shape, form, meaning, and message are all far bigger than any single religion. And grow Paul did, and along the way he changed his tune and he started speaking about Love & God, and stopped speaking so much about Finance, and even stopped collecting taxes, and he gave up his tax collecting and assaying franchise, because he wanted to be a Free Man anymore. His wisdom allowed him to grow and change exponentially, and seemingly suddenly — s much so — that today we use the simile of a Miracle of Divine Inspiration to get to explain his amazing moment of Transformation. But methinks that he changed over time and as he grew, and as he allowed this growth to take hold into his heart, and bring about this tidal sea-change at the moment of reaching Damascus with his coins, and his gold and his plentiful silver loot — he allowed the transformation to occur by finding the new light on the way. He truly saw the “WAY” through the “LIGHT” of transformative growth.
As for official titles, wealth, gold and monetary loot and the High life of luxury — he gave all that up quickly. Talk about some growth. He gave up his social standing and wealth, and even family. Talk about some powerful change. He changed hi work and devoted his Life to the community of the poor and persecuted people that he himself had tormented for far too long. Talk about some life transition away from safety and comfort, and he shifted towards freedom of WILL, to embrace the “unseen” and that “strange thing” that is felt deeply in the heart, yet remains incomprehensible and not understood by all of us — except by the common heart. The heart that is nestled deep in our chest cavity making our life possible.
But for Paul “Saul from Tarsus” this “Light on the Road to Damascus” is an unbelievable amount of change, and this is bolstered by the historical record, and from his actions as seen some years later when Paul was speaking to the intellectually rigorous and skeptical polytheistic Athenian citizens. He went to Athens and spoke at the Areopagus (Supreme Court), where he was wise enough to say: “God is not far from any of us. It is in him, that we live and move, and have in our very being.” This is how Paul of Tarsus spoke in Athens, while speaking for many hours at the Pnyx, the rocky hill outcropping on the opposite site of the Acropolis, where the Greek Senate, the Council of the Elders, the gathering of Archons, and Areopagus (Supreme Court) the highest hall of Justice, always met, in order to discuss matters of War, Culture, State, and Justice. Areopagus was the ancient Greek Supreme Court, and this was also the hilltop neighborhood where the Senate was located. Paul spoke right there about Justice and the relevance of Love into restorative justice end equality for all — in this Life and beyond. And Paul was a keen observer and a student of history, and when he was taken to trial on Areopagos fro spreading seditious ideas — he spoke of Socrates, another Seditious Thinker who brough fresh ideas a few centuries earlier, and he spoke of the earlier wisdom teachings of the Stoic philosopher, because the great wisdom Philosopher Socrates had dedicated during the late part of the life, a small altar to the One Unknown and Unknowable God. Socrates called the altar to the ONE GOD, the “Unknown God” on this very hill of the Supreme Court, and the Senate, Areopagus, where Paul came to speak about the arc of Justice rising over our lives, over our world, and over ourselves in this Life and beyond.
But to take things in sequence, when Paul first arrived in Athens, he went to the Athenian synagogue, and to the Agora (Greek: marketplace) on a number of occasions, to preach about God, and the recent Sacrifice and Redemption of Jesus of Nazareth. Alarmed at the new ideas, some powerful Athenians seized him and took him to a Supreme Court Senate meeting at the Areopagus, the high court in Athens, in order to explain himself. The Areopagus literally meant the rock of Ares, in the city and was a center of temples, cultural facilities, and a high court. At the time, it might have been illegal to preach openly a foreign deity in Athens, which would have thereby made Paul’s sermon at the Supreme Court of the Elders, a combination of a “guest lecture” and a trial, and Paul took this opportunity for “Apologia” to address the five main issues of his faith: 1)Introduction: Discussion of the ignorance of pagan worship (verses 23-24).
2)The one Creator God being the object of worship (25-26) 3)God’s relationship to humanity (26-27). 4)Idols of gold, silver and stone as objects of false worship (28-29). 5)Conclusion: Time to end the ignorance (30-31)
Paul’s talk in Athens, illustrates the beginnings of his attempts to explain the nature of God through the human son Christ, and his Faith to the logical Athenians, and this is a very important and pivotal first step on the path that led him to the development of Christian religious ideology.
Paul begins his address by emphasizing the need to know God, rather than worshiping the unknown: “As I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship — and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
Paul then explained concepts such as the resurrection of the dead and salvation, in effect a prelude to the future discussions of Christian ideology amongst the leaders of the new faith. After the sermon a number of people became followers of Paul. These included a woman named Damaris, and Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, known as Dionysius the Areopagite.
Fast Forward to the 20th century, Pope John Paul II likened the modern media to the New Areopagus, where Christian ideas needed to be explained and defended anew, against disbelief and against the idols of gold and silver. Talk about some amazing Growth and Change taking place…
Paul spoke as an educated man in Greek, on that fine day of Athens as he addressed the Athenian Senators/Judges who were for the first time exposed to his admittedly strange and novel words, and it was from this location, drawing from the potential significance of the Athenian altar to the Unknown God, that Paul delivered his talk: “Now what you worship here something unknown I am going to proclaim to you, that “The God” who made the world and everything in it, is the Lord of heaven and earth, and does not live in temples built by hands but inside each one of us as the God of Heavens and Earth and all in between” and in that Spirit, Paul went on to speak passionately until sundown…
His talk is still recorded here in modern English: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bible_(American_Standard)/Acts#17:16
Many years later St. Augustine of Hippo, a wise and worldly philosopher (friend of wisdom) writes, that through love we come to be in “the frame of the body of God” so that in the end “there shall be one God, loving You in himself.” Other evangelists said that “You are chosen in God, and the purpose of being chosen is to let everyone else know that they too are chosen too.” And in this process of growth and change, I am not making any statement about the nature of the Christian religion here, but am certainly making a statement about the nature of a Divine Love, and perhaps a loving God father to us all, and a religion of Peace and Love that will some day win over the world and all it’s people, if we allow ourselves to “grow” and experience this “change” in our Heart of Hearts.
God in all it’s myriad incarnations, in all of History, in all the tongues of human experience, is LOVE, nothing else. Pure and unadulterated LOVE. So, Grow or not — it’s your call. But so that you know, the benefits of growth are amazing, magnificent, and extraordinary. You get loved, you feel Love, and you get to love others in return.
Yet all this comes to bear only when you make the firm decision to grow on a daily basis, because only then you begin to reap the benefit of the real beauty and joy, that life has to offer. Truly there is no better satisfaction than to know deep down that you are growing more and more, into the person you aspire to be or the higher being that you were put here on earth to be. And since growth is optional, that leaves the majority of the population to take the easy way out and not have to focus on the daily growth…
But You are special…
The reason why You’ll do what most others will never commit to doing, is that your daily growth is your secret weapon. That is how you outdistance yourself from your competitors. That is what makes you unique and successful, because the same skills that require you to move out of your comfort zone and live Life, are the skills that help you grow and elevate yourself sky high.
Meditate upon that for a moment…
Meditate because You can’t grow while you’re comfortable and just living the so called dream of your normal life. Much learning a new skill, refining an old one, changing your thought process, assuming a new role, reading more, walking the dogs more, or waking up earlier than normal — all require you to move past your comfort zone and go into the unknown…
It all starts with a decision, because becoming the best of You, and growing daily, doesn’t just happen by accident, but it starts with a firm and bold decision.
Remember that thing we talked about many times before?
Remember that old saw, the Free Will?
It is still relevant here because just like anything in life, we are provided with decision opportunities always.
So please do take the time right now to make the decision that you will grow as an individual every day, and every time you choose the high road. Make that decision to grow, somehow, someway, someday.
So create your own daily growth program, seeking change and wisdom, and it all will sort itself out best it can. From deciding to grow, comes the expectation of change, and from then on comes amazing wisdom too.
Whatever works best for you, do it. As long as you make a firm decision that you will grow somehow, someway, someday — this is all that matters. After all, you owe it to yourself to reap the full benefits that life has to offer, and change through growth is the only path to some form of enlightenment that fits with your prescription for wisdom.
Start from seeking wisdom through growth, and you might find far more than you bargained for…
Grow yourself, and I assure you that all of your entrepreneurial undertakings will magnify themselves exponentially.
After all, we can only grow in all of our endeavors to the extent that we truly grow ourselves.
Now, make a note of it.
And please be Grateful for the fact that you are the product of Billions of years of Evolution and Intelligent design — so start Acting like it.
And those Stars up above that you can see every night if you turn off the TV, are the very same stars that you are made of…
So keep looking up to the skies and who knows maybe someday You’ll get to see a glimpse of the Love we all so dearly want to be able to grow and see, and to allow to come into our heart.
And then go out in the world and do the Right Thing…