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Sloww Sunday Newsletter 172 (Jan 28, 2024) — Cracked Pot, Mental Witness, Direct Path, & More
Sloww Sunday shares my latest and greatest creations and curations to 10,000+ students of life. If you enjoy this issue, please help grow Sloww by forwarding this newsletter to other lifelong learners.
📚 Lifelong Learning & Deeper Development
The Synthesizing Mind of Maria Popova
What I do with Sloww is often compared to what Maria Popova does with The Marginalian (formerly known as Brain Pickings). Sloww readers have said:
- “I’ve really been enjoying exploring your posts and being allowed on this unique journey with you. I knew and loved the work of Maria Popova before I discovered you and have appreciated your research on her work—like much of your work, I have found it nowhere else.”
- “I’d like to congratulate you on developing one of the few thoughtful and well-presented blogs and websites. I now consider Sloww one of my core thinking sites, along with Tim Ferriss, Shane Parrish, and Maria Popova.”
- “Shout out to Kyle Kowalski, Maria Popova, James Clear, and other synthesizers who do a wonderful service for learning.”
Personally, I’ve been a fan of Maria’s work for a long time. Years ago, I shared my 3 top life lessons from her. More recently, I published a comprehensive synthesis of Maria Popova (🔒) after going through 50+ articles, interviews, podcasts, and videos about her. It turns out we have a lot in common:
- Neither of us found our college educations intellectually stimulating or rewarding, but both of us are fascinated by leveraging our synthesizing minds.
- Both of us worked in advertising but eventually had cognitive dissonance and were sparked by suffering (Maria with depression; me with an existential crisis).
- Both us explore the question of how to live a meaningful life and are fueled by endless curiosity and lifelong learning across disciplines.
- Both of us started as personal growth first and foremost with business growth as a secondary byproduct.
- Maria and I are roughly the same age, but we started to figure out life at much different ages (Maria started 15+ years ago in her early 20s; I started 5+ years ago in my early 30s).
🌎 Lighter Living
Die With Zero
This book summary is one of the most-visited on the entire site: Die With Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life by Bill Perkins (Book Summary). Check it out for 9 money rules on living before dying.
- “What’s the best way to spend your life energy before you die? This book is my answer to that question … The premise of this book is that you should be focusing on maximizing your life enjoyment rather than on maximizing your wealth. Those are two very different goals. Money is just a means to an end: Having money helps you to achieve the more important goal of enjoying your life. But trying to maximize money actually gets in the way of achieving the more important goal.” — Bill Perkins
Explore more: 100+ posts on Intentional Living (Sloww Stage 1)
🧭 Higher Purpose
The Short Story of the Cracked Pot
Purpose comes in many shapes and sizes. As this short story illustrates, even our flaws can be fortunate when seen and used in new ways:
“A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. ‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.’
The bearer asked, ‘Why? What are you ashamed of?’
The pot replied, ‘For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts.’
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, ‘As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.’
As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.'”
Explore more: 50+ posts on Life Purpose (Sloww Stage 2)
🧠 Mental Mastery
Are you witnessing your mind?
You are either identifying with thoughts or witnessing thoughts. Which is it for you? Here are some posts that outline the life-transforming power of witnessing:
- 50+ Michael Singer Quotes on Surrender, Witnessing, Self-Realization, & More
- 🔒 What is Witness Consciousness?
- 🔒 How to Practice Witnessing with “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass (+ Infographic)
- 🔒 Nisargadatta Maharaj Synthesis: Everything about the Witness (+ Infographic)
“Don’t ever misunderstand what’s meant by ‘objective observation’ or ‘witness consciousness’. It is not something you do, it is not an act of will, it is not a place you go—it is the state of being aware of what is going on inside your mind … You are not in your mind. You’re sitting on the couch of Self watching the mind just like you sit on the couch and watch the TV … Whatever the mind is saying, you are watching that.” — Michael Singer
Explore more: 75+ posts on Mental Mastery (Sloww Stage 3)
☯️ Spiritual Seeing
The Direct Path Spiritual Lineage
If you are into spirituality, I highly encourage you to explore the “direct path” lineage: Atmananda Krishna Menon taught Jean Klein, who taught Francis Lucille, who taught Rupert Spira. If you’re already pretty deep into spirituality, you may want to trace the evolution of the lineage by starting with Atmananda Krishna Menon. If you’re new to all this, you may want to reverse the order by starting with Rupert Spira for the most modern version. Here’s some recommended reading to get started:
Atmananda Krishna Menon: Atma Darshan & Atma Nirvriti (🔒Premium Summary), Atmananda Tattwa Samhita, Notes on Spiritual Discourses (Vol 1-3)
- “When water is realised, wave and sea vanish. What appeared as two is thus realised as one. Water can be reached straightaway from wave by following the direct path. If the way through the sea is taken, much more time is needed.” — Atmananda Krishna Menon
Jean Klein: I Am (Book Summary Coming), Beyond Knowledge, The Book of Listening
- “The only truth is being, which is causeless, autonomous. When you see false things for what they are then that is illumination … In this, the direct path, free from choice, there is a freeing of energy and a spontaneous establishment in true being.” — Jean Klein
Francis Lucille: The Perfume of Silence (Book Summary Coming), Truth Love Beauty, Eternity Now
- “Realizing that we are not an entity, we take our stand as consciousness, and allow this exposure and relaxation of the knots in the body and the mind, with loving indifference. This is the direct path, standing knowingly as consciousness under all circumstances.” — Francis Lucille
- “The Direct Path, by which the mind returns directly to its source through the recognition of its innate peace, clarity and luminosity, is the essence and culmination of all spiritual practice and can be found at the heart of all the great spiritual and religious traditions.” — Rupert Spira
Explore more: 50+ posts on Spiritual Seeing (Sloww Stage 4)
💬 Final Thought
Wise Words from Michael Singer
“The most important thing to learn is how to be okay with reality … The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything.” — Michael Singer
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