I personally believe Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the greatest gifts to American spirituality. He spoke passionately, he lived courageously, he challenged others to rise above their present circumstances and to experience themselves and others in a greater and more loving way. His words sang out across our country like sweet notes of a deep and hidden truth. He walked with fullness and honesty, paving the way for others to do the same. He held up the light in the mid of great darkness. He dreamed a possibility that we are beginning to see blossom into a reality. Through one single man’s actions, an entire country has changed, and the inauguration of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States is the living proof that this is so.
So today, in honor of a great teacher, reflect on the following nine quotes of Dr. King’s, allowing his great wisdom to resonate in your own life in order to experience more fullness, richness, and juiciness in the year to come!
1. “Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Positive situations can only spring from optimism. Peace will never be established through wars. And inner-peace will never be created through negative self-talk.
So many of us are kind to others, yet are cruel dictators internally. Practice speaking gently to yourself this week, like you would to a sweet, innocent child. Be compassionate and understanding. Be encouraging, excited, and joyful about all that you dream. It is only through a loving approach that the true enjoyment and richness of life can be embraced.
2. “Faith is taking the first step even when you do not see the whole staircase.”
An action is a missing step in so many peoples’ journey. Most of us know what we should be doing, yet do not live in alignment with those goals. Stepping into integrity, and moving forward energetically, by taking action – any action – is vital. Without movement, there is stagnancy. Nothing can change when standing still.
So take a leap. Make a decision about something small this week that you’ve been putting off. Once you take those first brave steps, life has a beautiful way of illuminating the road just ahead. With each step forward, the path will be revealed and your journey will unfold.
3. “Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
So often we get sidetracked in this country, and only hold the end-results of our endeavors in high-regard. But quite often I meet clients that are very outgoing successfully and financially abundant … yet spiritually bankrupt. Many people are so focused on the prize that they’ll do anything to get there, forgetting to stop along the way to play, reflect, be grateful and smell the roses.
If we lived in a world where the only thing that was of any importance was, in fact, your intention, your awareness, your kindness or your faith, how would you stack up? What grade would you give you in the school of life?
The same principle applies in feng shui. It is not as important that your home look beautiful, but how it got to be that way. That you have reverence when cleaning. That you have joy when decorating. That you smile as you rearrange. Focus instead on how you’re BEING, rather than all you’re DOING … and you’ll be doing great!
4. “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life, is what is important.”
We tend to make choices about our lives in terms of physical well-being over spiritual well-being. We want to live long lives, and we have doctors and hospitals and drug companies to support those goals. But what if we were just as tenacious about our own joy and laughter? What if we reached to have meaning and love? What if we would do anything to feel passion, pleasure, and playfulness each and every day?
The desire for longevity is based on fear. The other is based on love. In what ways can you begin to live a long and LOVING life? Bringing in even the smallest twinkling of lightness to your day will go a lot farther for your health and longevity than a trip to the doctor …
5. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the leader concerns of all humanity.”
When clients come to me frustrated or depressed, it’s usually because they have shifted their perspective inward, wallowing in the details of their own life. I’ve been there many times myself, as the human brain has a sneaky way of putting each of us as the center of our own little Universe. And while that looks like it would be a great thing, it also can wreak havoc.
When we shift our focus onto others, we not only get the experience of helping a fellow human being, but we also realize that we are not alone, others share the same struggles (or oftentimes, worse ones, and that the things we’re fixated on may really not be that important after all.
This outward focus also can bring a deep sense of satisfaction. When we live only for ourselves, there is a hollowness that develops. By holding to what we know to be true, and shining our lights for others to see, we not only enrich our own lives but make a difference in the world – and this sort of experience always reaps far greater rewards than those done solely for our own gain. When you learn to light another’s lantern, you are also illuminating your path as well.
6. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
We tend to see ourselves as individuals, separate from the whole. We get concerned with our own needs, our own injustices, our own struggles, and our own desires. But if you look around, we are all completely interdependent. Every bite of food, a piece of clothing, or car you drive has likely been touched by hundreds of other people. Without we’re living off the grid, every move we make is linked to lots of other folks.
The same interconnectedness is found on an interpersonal level. Every time you meet another, you’re making an impact – either positive or negative. Every smile, grimace, compliment or hug ripples out into your home, your community … and ever, the planet. Only when we begin to see each other as united, as cells of a greater being, as our very own selves, will we experience peace through the planet. Let it begin with you.
7. “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.”
Dr. King expresses here a most important principle in the manifesting of any dream. Whatever we focus on, becomes bigger – and unfortunately, we have a media that fixates on the scandal, crime, violence, and poverty. Take a look at your own life, your own struggles … Have the things you worry about most come to pass? Are the challenges you face those that you reflected on?
Take a look also at your triumphs. Were they things that you talked about, dreamed about or wrote about?
This week take a look at your wish list. How can you keep your eyes on That prize and less on your worries? Where can you live “as if” your dreams already have come true, rather than grumbling about your displeasures? Where can you find room for improvement, and making loving steps to revel in all the good?
8. “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions.
So … Are you a follower or a leader? Do you take what everyone tells you as truth … your parents, the papers, the trials and the politicians? Have you taken time to ask you what you think? Have you put your hand on your own belly and sat in that silence, listening to the quiet wisdom within? Did someone once tell you that you were not pretty enough? Smart enough? Creative enough? Driven enough? Tall enough to have what you really want?
If so, where can you begin to take back your power and find your own voice and set your own path? Where can your spirit begin to whisper in your ear? Where can you find your own beautiful answers?
9. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
In a world full of flashy cars, high-profile celebrities, plastic surgery and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s easy to lose sight of the defect aspects of the human spirit. When we judge – ourselves or others – on their appearance, status, age, ability or wealth, we lose sight of the truly beautiful parts of each one of our souls. Every person on this planet has a story, has hopes, has fears and has a heart if we open our eyes to see it.
If you’re only walking through the surface of life, I challenge you to go deeper. Take time out of your busy schedule to make eye-contact, flash a smile or offer a hand to your fellow man. Stop to ask your children what their lives are like, what they’re scared of, and what they long for. Ask your mate what they most want more of you, and ask your neighbors how you can help.
Living alone on the surface makes for a very brittle life. So go deep, go deep … and go a bit deeper. There you’ll find the gold…
Featured Image: National Geographic Kids