priorities

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been rejigging my life a bit, seeking to determine what my priorities are, and then arranging my time to make sure I’m attending to my highest priorities. In the process I’ve missed posting to this blog, but I do intend to fit it in and keep up with it. Stay tuned!

The specific impetus to do this came from my typing notes from (and thereby rereading) Caroline Myss’s 1997 book Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can. I bought and read the book in November 2000, and highlighted it at that time; only now have I got around to typing those highlights into a Word document—part of my studying process. Caroline Myss’s point of departure is that life is first of all a spiritual enterprise, and that the issue of health—the issue that brought people to her in her capacity as a “medical intuitive”—is tied intimately to our spiritual condition. That being the case, one of her first instructions to those wishing to heal and stay healthy is to connect or reconnect with their spiritual practice, whatever that is.

This advice affected me, for I left off my own spiritual practice, which is the practice of Buddhist meditation and the study of the Buddhist teachings, nine years ago, not long after my return from half a year spent as a temporarily ordained monk at Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton. I had my reasons for leaving off, but I won’t go into them right now. Those reasons had nothing to do with my conviction in the validity and power of the teachings, for I had experienced that validity and that power unmistakably at first hand. Rereading Myss’s words reawakened some of the hunger for teachings that had first become conscious in me back in about 1978.

The result was that when I looked honestly at my various interests, activities, and projects, the one I wanted to put at the top—at priority 1—was whatever came under the heading “Spirit”. Accordingly, in the Word document I created on 27 July called “Priorities & Planning”, I put Spirit as the first heading.

Looking at the other parts of my life that I wanted to organize, I came up with 4 more headings, and after some reflection I placed them in the order in which I felt they belong in my life. Along with Spirit, here they are:

  • Spirit
  • Health
  • Livelihood
  • Creativity
  • Citizenship

Under these headings I listed the different activities and projects that I want to pursue. Most of them fit under more than one heading, so I just let that happen and listed them repeatedly under whichever headings I felt they fit under. Under the Spirit heading came these:

  • meditation
  • dharma study
  • lojong slogan practice

(Dharma is the Sanskrit word used to name the Buddhist teachings. Lojong is a Tibetan word meaning “mind training”. Lojong slogans are a particular practice used to work with your mind in the time you’re not actually meditating.)

Under the Health heading came these:

  • meditation
  • dharma study
  • studying Myss’s texts
  • keeping a healing journal
  • fitness
  • paying attention to diet
  • working on my archetypes
  • improving my guitar-playing

Here’s an example of how two items, meditation and dharma study, are repeated under the new heading, because I feel these are important for health. The “healing journal” is simply a document in which I make notes relating to what I’m doing to promote my health. The “archetypes” I refer to are the ones described in Myss’s Sacred Contracts. As for guitar-playing, I put it here because I read recently that musical training helps keep your brain working well as you age. It also just feels to do.

Under Livelihood came these:

  • marketing Truth of the Python and my others works
  • completing The Mission
  • writing and publishing nonfiction works as Kindle Singles
  • building out the static pages of my website
  • setting up a second, bookselling website

(The “second, bookselling website” was a scheme I hatched a couple of months ago when I felt frustrated in my efforts to find good e-books to read. I thought that I could create me own e-bookstore and stock it with only high-quality e-books. Sadly, I’ll probably never have time to do it.)

And under Creativity:

  • completing The Mission
  • writing and publishing nonfiction works as Kindle Singles
  • improving my guitar-playing
  • building out the static pages of my website

And finally, under Citizenship:

  • progressing with my liberal education
  • building out the static pages of my website
  • writing and publishing nonfiction works as Kindle Singles

It took me a while to come up with the word Citizenship for this heading. I intend it to capture my feeling of social responsibility: my wish to help make the world a better place. I feel that my best contribution there will be through thinking and writing rather than through other means.

So there it is: a written statement of my priorities. I don’t explicitly mention this blog, but it falls under at least two of the items above: “marketing Truth of the Python and my other works” and “building out the static pages of my website”, toward which these blog posts are a first step.

And why did I put Spirit at the top? Because, in setting my priorities, I imagined myself on my deathbed, looking back over my life, and I asked myself: what activities would I feel best about having done, and regret the least? And I remembered one of the lojong instructions, which says (approximately), “Since wealth, fame, friendships, and honors do not follow you in death, there is not the slightest need for them and you can cheerfully forget about them.” The only thing that goes with you is mind. Work on that.

Share this post—why not?
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on Reddit
Reddit
Email this to someone
email
This entry was posted in thoughts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to priorities

  1. Paul Vitols says:

    Hi Richard. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I’ve taken a peek at your website, and it looks like you’ve had some interesting experiences. I’m not sure how it connects with what I’m doing, though.

    If you like you can e-mail me at pv-at-thiswebsite-dot-com.

    All the best with your researches….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *