Invest in Your Dreams
and Recall Your Loves

Inspiring stories collected from TV viewing.

Eric Armstrong

Out of even the worst habits must come a little wisdom, from time to time. Anyway, that's my claim, and I'm sticking to it. Here are a few bits of wisdom gleaned from the many hours that were otherwise wasted in front of the stupid-making image-box. (I've already done it, so you don't have to. Right.)

Invest in Your Dreams

Vin Diesel was on the Leno show, promoting his box office hit, "Triple XXX". (After seeing the previews for it, I bought "Fast and Furious", just because it had Vin Diesel in it. Outstanding movie, in whichVin Diesel plays the starring role.)

On that show, he told the story of when he was in Los Angeles, trying to get an acting role, but having a hard time, because he had no big roles behind him to prove himself. It was the old chicken and egg -- you need experience to get hired, and you need to get hired to get experience.

So for several months he sold light bulbs over the phone. That was a story in itself. He called people all over the country, and instantly engaged them in conversation. With his ability to emphasize, his ability to act, and his genuine love of people, he became a good friend who listened, understood, and commisserated with his contact at the other end of the line. Those folks bought light bulbs not, as Diesel said, because the bulbs were any good, but because they were friends.

After 5 months of long days and hard work, he and a friend had saved up $45,000. But instead of buying a car or anything of that sort, he and his friend went back to New York and put the money into making a movie.

That movie became his calling card. It was the reference he needed to launch his career, and it catapulted him into becoming a star. Looking directly at the audience and the cameras, Vin Diesel summarized the moral of the story, just to make it clear: "Invest in Yourself".

The fact that he was using his time on national TV to inspire and educate others was, by itself, impressive. And the story truly was inspiring. But mentally, I revised his moral to "Invest in Your Dreams".

You see, I've believed in the motto, "Invested in Yourself", my whole life. But instead of focusing my energies, it divided and dispersed them. I've learned to play dozens of sports, games, and engaged in countless hobbies. I've spent a fortune on sports equipment, musical instruments, computer equipment, lessons of every kind, and self-help books. Because darn near everything is good for you in some way, and there are a ton of ways to spend your money.

At one point, I did realize that investing in "productivity tools" always paid off. Whether it was a better computer chair or a better ratcheting wrench, tools always made it possible to do more, more easily. But that realization didn't stem the tide of spending. It only prioritized it, somewhat.

However, at one point in my martial arts training, I reached a critical awareness that was both the goal of, and the culmination of, the years I spent becoming a Jung SuWon black belt.

That awareness was, "You are Your Dreams". That person you dream of becoming, that vision you hold of who could be, if only this, if only that -- that person is who you really are, inside -- regardless of who you are on the outside,

So, when Vin Diesel spoke, I suddenly realized that the right rule to follow is this: Invest in Your Dreams". Invest your time and your energy, as well as your money. Because, when you do so, not only will you limit your spending of money to the things that will let you spend your time, but in the process you will be becoming your true self.

As Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim writes in her book, The Silent Master, "the real purpose of any
goal you have in life is to find Love. When you fulfill your goal, you will undoubtedly feel the joy and Love within you" (page 83).

Everyone Who has Ever Loved You

In Star Trek: Voyager, cuddly little Neelix describes a comforting belief from his tribe: That when you die, you will go to the "guiding tree" -- a great tree in the middle of a beautiful forest, filled with sunlight, where you will meet everyone who has ever loved you. He told that story to help a little girl go to sleep, telling how he often thinks of that when he has trouble sleeping.

Immediately, I recognized this story as an incredible meditation. In that instant, I recognized all religious imagery as, essentially, objects of meditation that lead to incredibly good feelings and new realizations.

In the Far East, there is a tradition of meditating on one's master, in order to experience the powerful emotions of love that stem from that connection. Having been fortunate enough to train with a true master, Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim, I have been fortunate enough to experience the benefits of that meditation. (Grandmaster once related that her master loved the quiet early morning hours for meditation. So when I wake early, I frequently focus on that connection, and experience the love.)

It was Grandmaster who first awakened in me the power of gratitude. In one class, she asked us to focus on generating gratitude -- for our breath, for our life, for everything we could think of. It was a powerful experience. The more I generated gratitude, the more I became aware of to be grateful for. For two weeks, I generated gratitude every waking moment. I was grateful for the sun's warmth and energy, for the shade of the trees and the wood they gave us for houses, for the food that grows to nourish us, for having a job, for the person who invented the automobile and the people who make them, for people running gas stations and for people taking away trash. Everywhere I looked, there was reason to be grateful, and I experience two weeks of non-stop bliss. It was my first experience with true enlightenment.

Christian religions, too, have imagery with which to generate such feelings. Focusing on the image of someone dieing for your sins gives you the freedom to forgive yourself. That lets you stop harming others in attempt to "prove" you're right, and it lets you experience the powerful emotions of love and gratitude. (I've never personally bought into that concept in any meaningful way, but a lifetime of exposure to it gives me insight into the value of meditational imagery it provides.)

After seeing that episode of Star Trek: Voyager, I went to bed that night visualizing that beautiful, sunlight tree in the middle of a great forest, and I began thinking of everyone who has ever loved me. The list was much longer than I first thought! Each night, in fact, I think of others who, in their way, demonstrated love one way or another. And I, in turn, love them back.

In that process, I am finding that visualizing "everyone who has ever loved me" brings up those powerful feelings of love and gratitude -- the same feelings and awareness that my master brought me to experience originally, and which are the focus and foundation of all major religions.

When I heard the story, the powerful potential of meditational imagery became clear in that moment, as did the awareness of the commonality among the religions of the world. Since it is that inner experience which is the raison d'etre of religion, it is tragically ironic that so many wars are fought over superficial differences.

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