There is an ancient tale of a diamond merchant and a thief.
The thief, knowing the merchant has purchased a rare and precious diamond, spends an entire three-day train journey trying to pick the merchant’s pocket in order to obtain the jewel. When the journey comes to an end and he hasn’t secured the diamond, he is frustrated. As the diamond merchant exits the train, the thief follows him once again. Finally, he can’t stand it any more. So he walks up to the merchant and says, ‘Sir, I am a renowned diamond thief. I saw you purchase that beautiful diamond, so I followed you onto the train. Though I used all the skills of my art, I was not able to find the gem. I must know your secret. Tell me, please, how did you hide it from me?’ The diamond merchant replies, ‘I saw you watching me in the diamond district, and I suspected you were a thief. So I hid the diamond where I thought you would be least likely to look for it — in your own pocket!’ He then reaches into the thief’s pocket and pulls out the diamond.Excerpt from A Diamond in Your Pocket
The jewels that spiritual teacher Caroline Myss invites you to receive can be held in a pouch in your pocket, to be pulled out and used like a lens (that will help you see the whole of your life differently) when you need it. And the best part? This treasure is in your pocket right now, the pocket of your heart, where it has been all along. . .
Jewel #1: Plug into your power
“Everything in your life is a power negotiation.” Caroline Myss
Power is the fundamental ingredient of the human experience. Everything we believe in and every choice we make and every action we initiate is a negotiation of power. Every word your say is a power tool. Every thought, every emotion, every idea, and every decision you make (or decide not to make) is ultimately a power manoeuvre. Whatever language you put it in, when you make a choice about anything in life you are asking yourself, “will this empower me?”
When we feel powerless, we make powerless choices. When we feel empowered, we can make empowered choices. Every choice we make begins with how we perceive ourselves—as safe, as victimized, as successful, as respected, as loved, as isolated, as abused, as down on our luck, and so on. Whenever you are off balance—feel ‘ick’—you need to heighten your awareness of where, why, and how you have lost power. You may have negotiated it away by agreeing to do something you don’t want to do or said something (with the goal of disempowering another) that you now regret. Or you may have slowly bled out over years while residing with a whiner, nit-picker, or bully.
Buddha would say that it is up to you and only you to deal with loss of power. It has nothing to do with the person with whom you are in a power battle. Were it not that person, it would be someone else. A wise strategy is to graciously withdraw from anything that may create powerlessness.
An additional word: When children are wounded young, the fear of powerlessness follows them their entire life.
Jewel #2: There is only now
“Life is available only in the present moment.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you feel that all of you is in the present? Or is the past more emotionally and psychically real to you than the now? Those of us who carry wounds from the past are often told to “detach and move on” but this is something that the mind cannot grasp. This is work for the soul.
Myss says past wounds “must brought into the light and examined, reflected upon, and used as a lens through which the lives of others are better understood. Such a choice liberates you from the gravity field of a wounded past, which can hold you hostage to unresolved memories and traumas for decades. The consciousness of present time allows you to keep your memories, but they can no longer hold you hostage, so they can no longer drain you of your energy, which inevitably drains you of your health.”
She suggests one simple method to help you stay in the present: Change your vocabulary. Specifically, give up the use of the following terms and all that they imply: blame, deserve, guilt, fair, fault. If you cut those five words from your vocabulary, both in your private thoughts and in your communication with others, you will notice almost immediately that it is far more difficult to fall into negative emotional patterns.
Jewel #3: What is in one is in the whole
“All life breathes together.” Caroline Myss
What I do to myself, I do to everyone. To truly understand this concept, Myss explains you need to look at it from a micro level. For example, if you ingest something toxic it will impact part of your body (most likely your gut), but it will also impact the whole of your body. To take this idea to a macro level, if you have a negative thought, it impacts everybody. Maybe you think, “I don’t want to get up today” and proceed to spend the today snapping at the people around you. This is where self-knowledge becomes important.
Myss goes on to say if something causes you to be separated from the whole, you have to get rid of that. For example, you can no longer afford to believe in a religion that teaches you’re better than someone else.
The idea that we are separate is, in the Buddha’s words, the greatest illusion of all. Myss explains, “We are the only generation who have decided our purpose in life is to be important . . . This pathology of being recognised is exactly the thing that causes a person to making choices to separate one from the whole – we see it in people with narcissism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and so on. But somehow this darkness has been planted that being ordinary is the most contemptable thing in the world.”
The wisdom in this jewel is that service to our self must be service to the whole. It is our call to action. “By healing yourself, you heal the planet.”
An additional word: if you are an empath, it is important to be aware that you pick up psychic energy from everyone around you. The idea of ‘what is in one is in the whole’ is reversed: ‘what is in the whole is in the one.’ Many of us take care of our physical (micro) being, but don’t ever think of our energy (macro) being. We have been taught to manage what we put into our body in order to stay healthy, but we don’t take care to protect ourselves against though forms or beliefs that cause us, in Myss’s words, to “haemorrhage energy.” Have you ever said, “I feel so heavy today” or feel like the pilgrim from John Bunyon’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ journeying with his ever-increasing burden. Work is required to protect your energy, and to not give it away.
Jewel #4: Nothing is personal
“When you realise it’s not personal, there is no longer a compulsion to react as if it were.” Eckhart Tolle
“Everything is nothing until we weave ourselves into it.” Caroline Myss
The ego takes everything personally, which is a big hindrance; experience is happening to “me”. Buddhism spends a great deal of time trying to dispel the notion that this “me” has a claim on experience. Instead, Buddhists say, the experience is unfolding on its own, and you, as an experiencer, are simply a conduit.
Myss says, “One of the greatest jewels you can give yourself is how to not take your own life personally . . . The idea of becoming impersonal helps you to shed the skin of what you are holding on to, of what you need to get rid of, and what is not important.” But she warns that this process can take years, but if you are able to move from personal to impersonal you will be able to heal faster. Moving to the impersonal is particularly important for co-dependents because none of this life was ‘set up’ for you.
When you release attachment to the impulse to personalise situations in the world around you, and the impulse to tell yourself stories about what things mean, you can tap into a great feeling of freedom, balance and tranquillity. Situations that would have bothered you in the past can slide by without you even noticing – they simply no longer exist in your reality.
Jewel #5: Attachments cost energy
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them- that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let the things flow forward in a natural way.” Lao Tzu
Thousands of years ago, the philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “Change is the only constant.” It’s a statement that remains just as true today as it was back then. Life is full of change—our bodies, day/night, weather, seasons, wins/losses, birth/death—everything is temporary.
For this reason, the Buddha instructed his followers to renounce all attachments. Why? Myss says, “You lose your life force through your attachments.” If you are wondering what your attachments may be…think about your cravings. These are the things that you fight for. For example, craving respect, craving alcohol, craving authority, craving freedom, craving irresponsibility, craving depression, craving wealth, craving safety, craving the need to win, craving your wounded child, or whatever prevents you from being authentically in the present.
Teresa of Avila said, “The journey of self is the journey of self-knowledge.” By looking at the self, you have to ask, “what are my cravings (attachments)?” As you go deeply into this examination, you eventually realise your cravings throttle down your capacity to go with the flow and enjoy the ride, as wild as it may be.
An additional word: A craving is not a preference or a fear, it is something you will prompt you to negotiate your integrity, your instincts, your judgement…your power.
Jewel #6: Perception is harmful
“The reality each of us creates for ourselves is a subjective playing field that no one but ourselves occupies.” Caroline Myss
The power of one thought form can control you, hold you captive. How you see the world is entirely in your hands and no one else, unless you give someone else the power of how you see your life.
“Your soul will go into battle with your perception,” explains Myss. “It’s a little like that little voice that compels you to clean out the closest. Except your perception is a closest of lies. Pause for a moment and consider why criminals must confess (unburden) themselves? The soul literally vomits lies. It needs to push out the darkness because it craves the light…truth.” She continues, “You have to puncture it, like a bubble…and the whole Universe that is built around that one perception will vanish.”
Have you ever been at a crossroads? These are times when you are forced to make a choice between what is small and familiar and that which is large and unfamiliar. And stepping your feet into the latter is terrifying. So, you move from one thought form to the other but in the end, you must choose: which is to be my reality? You may notice that you go back to your anchors during this time. Because anchors have weight (density) and you can say, “I am too exhausted to take that path” “It’s too much to bear.”
Myss continues, “When you step into a new thought form, you have to become familiar with its territory and all that’s included in that thought form. And it has to engage consciousness within you.” To say it differently, you need to move your new thought form being a ‘word’ to ‘animating’ it.
© Felicia Stewart, 2020
- ‘A Diamond in Your Pocket’ by Gangaji
- ‘Anatomy of the Spirit’ by Caroline Myss