“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Endeavor comes from the Old English phrase, putten in devoir – “to make an effort,” and from the Old French word, deveir – or, “duty.”
The modern English dictionary defines Endeavor as a “purposeful activity,” or an “earnest attempt.” So if we take Mr. Thoreau’s quote and elucidate it, we could come to the conclusion that what he is saying is that being a human-being, man or woman, is highly inspiring due to the fact that we have the ability to elevate our lives through conscious, purposeful activity.
We could even take it a step further and translate his quote to mean that being engaged in purposeful activity through an earnest attempt is our life’s duty. If we apply this perspective in our lives, it then means that we make the elevation of our consciousness and the expansion of our awareness our moral obligation and personal responsibility.
Wow! How powerful is that? Imagine if you took on the endeavor to make it your life’s duty to elevate your consciousness and increase your awareness. Imagine what life could be like if every day you were increasing your conscious awareness about the meaning of Life, the Universe, emotions, relationships, your health, raw food, intuition, careers, the essence of nature, your divine purpose on the planet, why your spouse yells at you or doesn’t do what you say, and more importantly, how to deal with the stresses of life without feeling overwhelmed, fatigued, and vexed.
Back in 2008 I had been studying with a spiritual mentor for nearly a year and a half while building a business from the ground-up with seven partners who all had seven different directions. Through what seemed to be random variations of extreme circumstances, I began a wild spiral of drifting from hidden storage rooms and beachside couches, to the living-room floor of an ex-girlfriend’s apartment.
With everything I owned invested into a failing company, I stepped into the familiar experience of living out of the trunk of my car and not knowing where my next meal was coming from. The last time I was homeless was between the age of fifteen and eighteen years old. At eighteen, I moved to California with nothing but an old guitar and a few hundred dollars, and began my life anew. Quickly I worked into a corporate position and was offered a six-figure income by the age of nineteen.
With a couple of big risks and venturing into the unknown, homelessness rushed up on me as if I was an easy prey waiting to be consumed by a hungry animal. Having learned and practiced meditation for nearly a year and a half, I took on this new adventure as an opportunity to learn how to be happy even without money, a place to live, new clothes, or the assurance that I would even eat that day.
Looking back I realize that those were valuable life experiences teaching me the truth about where true happiness resides.
I remember a story from spiritual Zen master Miao Tsan that I have modified to be relevant for our modern times, and it goes like this;
“There once was a spiritual student who was seeking happiness. He had studied for many years, yet, even with all of his searching, was unable to find it.
This student one day heard of a great master in a far away land, so he decided he would make the journey to go and ask this master where he could find happiness.
After many months of travel, he finally found the master.
Upon his arrival, the master asked him; Why are you here?
The student replied, “I am seeking happiness. I have searched for it my whole life. I have found glimpses of it, but it is always fleeting and never lasting.”
The master was silent for a moment, and then replied, “You are seeking the horse while riding it.”
Upon this response, the student realized that happiness cannot be found by seeking outwardly, but that it is found by dissolving ourselves of inner vexations and illusions.
With this new understanding, the student asked the master, “Then what?”
The master replied, “Then you ride the horse home.”
You see, we all too often search for happiness in food, in relationships, in jobs, in careers, in financial advancements, in social media, and in all otherworldly phenomena. Most people search for happiness, meaning, and fulfillment in life through outside activity, whereas what I found through these great experiences is that happiness only exists in the physical world for a short time, before it is turned into boredom, vexation, and sadness.
Finding true happiness requires us to step inside the quiet realms of our minds and visit the innate portalway that leads us beyond time and space. This inner space of emptiness is actual very alive, and as we gain a deeper understanding of this spaciousness, we are able to consciously elevate ourselves to higher levels of awareness.
It’s very funny. I started practicing meditation, contemplation, and observation back in 2007 with a strong desire to understand the function and capacity of the human mind, and then from 2009 up until 2012, I got very interested in the functions and inner workings of the human body, and what it means to truly be healthy, hence the intense work I’ve done with cleansing, physical purification, and 100% raw food living, and now, as I’m writing this in 2013, I’ve been guided back to the inner workings of the mind, as the mind is the most powerful tool we have to live life with aliveness, alertness, and happiness.
As we develop a stronger understanding of our inner world and dissolve attachments to the outside world and the functions produced by the mind, we ultimately liberate ourselves from negative emotions and become free to live a life of completeness, wholeness, and fulfillment.
I believe this is what Henry David Thoreau was referring to when he said, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
This to me is inspiring, and I hope it inspires you to live your life to the absolute fullest you possibly can.