Improve your … SELF


You might have read lot of Self-Improvement books. Do you know in the USA, these books have been consistently constituting the largest selling single category of all books ? I have also read wonderful authors like Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Joseph Murphy, and many other authors.

The celebrated success-expert Stephen Covey states that, of the 200 years of self-help books publishing in USA, the first 150 years saw books that stressed values like honesty, integrity, sincerity, dedication, truthfulness, service and unselfishness, while the later 50 years saw books on external aspects of personality, interview skills, communication skills, public speaking etc.

I was taught that “I am the Master of my Fate” and “I am the Captain of my Soul.” I knew in my school days that this was from a poem written by William Ernest Henley. I had not read the full poem till a few years ago. The poet thanks “whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.” What !! soul !!

But I have used the same quote in a few posts in my blogs. But are we really the masters of fate and captains of souls?

The following is an image that shows the hierarchy of needs of an individual, as defined by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”.


Are we as individuals successful in achieving all the needs in the above hierarchy ? While most of us get a fair level of the bottom two, many of us are not getting satisfaction in the third layer of needs and very few attain the satisfaction of their needs in the top two categories. Are you happy with this diagnosis ?

“I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success of money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning. If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears.”
― Carl Jung

We dance to the tunes of singer Madonna’s song, but do we ever catch the import of the lyrics ?:

You only see what your eyes want to see
How can life be what you want it to be? You’re frozen
When your heart’s not open

You’re so consumed with how much you get
You waste your time with hate and regret. You’re broken
When your heart’s not open

Can we do anything ?

Yes, we can.

For a start, we read from the Katha Upanishad:

Know the self to be the master of the chariot and the body to be the chariot. Know right understanding to be the charioteer and the mind (volitional and emotional) to be the reins. The sense-organs are said to be the horses and sense-objects the ways traversed by them. Discerning men say that the self, being united with the body, the organs, and the mind, is the experience.

But he who has no right understanding is ever associated with an uncontrolled mind, his organs are unruly like the vicious horses of a charioteer; while he who has right understanding is ever associated with a restrained mind, his organs are under control like the good horses of a charioteer.

Yes, this is the war everyone of us must wage, with our own self, in the inner world. Charles F Haanel, in the celebrated course THE MASTER KEY SYSTEM states: “The world without is a reflection of the world within. If we recognize the potentialities in the world within, they will take form in the world without.”

Do you think it is easy? It cannot be easy, as we have not been groomed in this way. But the war is worth the efforts.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” 
― Haruki Murakami


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