I think we all have.
It’s a question I often ask guests on my podcast who have a spiritual background. I’m fascinated by all the different ideas on our purpose in life and how to find it.
We’ve had some amazing spiritual leaders on the show, from all different backgrounds, so I thought it would be cool to do a Masters mashup episode on spiritual truths.
The response to these mashup episodes from the archives has been so great, I’m going to keep them coming.
This one features 4 clips from some of the wisest spiritual minds I’ve ever met.
First we hear from John Gray about how we can see our biggest mistakes and challenges being used for good in our lives.
Then we hear from Marianne Williamson about the difference between pain and suffering (and that we have a choice about how to respond to them).
Next there’s a great nugget from Danielle LaPorte about why it’s so important to be your own guru when it comes to walking your spiritual path.
And lastly we end with Rob Bell talking about why he believes God has put paradox into every truth (and why that is a good thing).
I loved each of these episodes, and I think you’ll get as much value as I did by revisiting them in Episode 641.
Lewis Howes: This is episode number 641, with the Spiritual Masters.
Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.
Carlos Castanada said, “We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.”
Welcome to The School of Greatness, another edition of the Masters. Now, if you listened to the last couple of editions we had, with the High Performance Habits Masters, or Mastering Relationships, they have been blowing up and people are telling me all about how much they’re loving it.
This episode is another mash-up of some of the best wisdom that I’ve heard on understanding spirituality and how our soul works. Again, some of you have been finding The School of Greatness Podcast recently, and with over 600+ episodes, I wanted to give you some of the greatest moments on specific topics. That’s why we have one on high performance habits, make sure to check that out after this one, or on mastering relationships.
And this one is with the spiritual masters. We’ve got John Gray in the house, who shares some incredible wisdom, here. We’ve got Marianne Williamson, Rob Bell and Danielle LaPort. So, I think you’re really going to love this one. Make sure to share it with your friends, lewishowes.com/641 and let me know what you think about these spiritual truths from the Masters.
Before we dive in, I want to give a shout out to the Fan of the Week! This is from John, who left a review over on iTunes and said, “Initially when I started listening to Lewis, I was going through a rough break-up and was severely depressed. Being an athlete and someone who struggled with expressing their feelings and being vulnerable. Listening to Lewis and his amazing guests has opened me up so many ways and unlocked avenues in my life and showed that vulnerability is okay. If you’re feeling in the dumps or unmotivated, then take a listen, Lewis is amazing.”
So, John, thank you so much for leaving a review, and we also just hit 3,000 five star reviews over on iTunes, so if you haven’t left a review yet, go join the party and get a chance to be shouted out as the Fan of the Week.
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Alright, guys, I’m excited to dive into this, again, if you haven’t listened to the past episodes, then this is a taste of some of the most powerful interviews out there on any podcast platform. This is The Spiritual Truths From The Masters. Let’s dive in!
John Gray: The same creativity that it takes to write a song, it takes to write a sermon. But you can’t sing a song you haven’t lived. You can’t write a sermon that you haven’t lived.
Lewis Howes: You’ve got to experience it first.
John Gray: You got to experience it.
Lewis Howes: For it to be authentic, right?
John Gray: Exactly, so, if you haven’t gone through pain, if you haven’t gone through process and trial, then you should probably sit down somewhere, because people don’t need to hear, “I’m perfect, why aren’t you?” They don’t need that. They need that to know that you were broken, show me where you failed. Show me your scars, you know?
That’s what the book was about. I Am Number Eight. King David, he wasn’t the king all his life, he was the eighth son of a man who didn’t even see his value. When the prophet came to look for a king, he wasn’t even invited in the house. Seven sons were invited and the prophet said, “None of these are the one. Do you have any more kids?” And he said, “Well, I’ve got another one, he’s out in the field.”
Lewis Howes: No way.
John Gray: First Samuel 16, bro. And so, Samuel calls for David, and he comes in and he’s anointed king as a teenager, and all of his brothers despised him. There’s a lot of back story to the reasons why. His father didn’t see him, couldn’t speak life to him. No one knew what he carried. He was invisible and hidden in plain sight.
I’m sitting here, learning about you, when my buddy, James, who handles all of the PR, wonderful brother, he told me about your podcast and I just did a brief, quick glance, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this is amazing! And just to see how God brought you from this place. Delaware, Ohio, is not the hotbed of…
Lewis Howes: It’s a small town.
John Gray: You know what I’m saying? And so, for you to emerge from this small town and have so much great influence, is just what the book is about. Going from anonymous to necessary, from ‘what’s-your-name?’ to ‘we’ve-been-waiting-on-you’. That’s what the book is about. That you can be overlooked and undervalued, but you are not forgotten. God has not forgotten you.
And so I think, again, to go back, this is a long way around, but the greatest challenge in my life is, reconciling the need for a father, who’s not coming.
Lewis Howes: So how do you create that for yourself?
John Gray: I think that’s where my faith came in. I think that’s why my faith is so important to me. The idea of a heavenly Father, that there’s something eternal. That these few years that I have on this Earth will not be the end of my impact.
I have a son, now, I have a daughter, so the microphone becomes a baton, and one day I’ll pass it to them, and I’ll sit down, and they’ll put me in the ground and hopefully I will have lived well enough that I left something better than what I had when I started.
I had an amazing, and still have, an amazing mother, but I think the power of legacy is for a father to speak identity and to let his children know that they have value and that they are protected at all times. And, for me, I want my life to be defined by what I left in place for my kids and my grandkids.
And I really, honestly believe that that hunger for a father will never leave. I don’t think it will ever be filled, because that tender place gives me a heart for everybody else. I understand tears. I understand people’s longing. We’re all broken somewhere, and we’re all looking to be filled or fulfilled somewhere. And that, for me, is probably the thing that’ll always be there.
* * *
Lewis Howes: So, what is the difference between suffering and pain, then?
Marianne Williamson: Well, it’s funny that you say that. The Course in Miracles says, “Words are, at best, but symbols,” so I know that there’s a conversation about the difference between suffering and pain, and I know where some people go with that. The idea that, what do they say, “Pain happens, suffering is inevitable,” or the other way round. I do think that there is… Nietzsche said, “To live is to suffer, to find meaning. To survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”
And, you know, we have learned a model in terms of medicine and healing, where we understand, you can’t just trash your body, then experience the almost inevitable sickness, then just try to allopathically eradicate or suppress the symptoms. You have to proactively cultivate health. Health is not the absence of sickness, sickness is the absence of health.
We have to, now, apply that same model to our psychological and emotional state. We can’t just fight depression, we have to proactively cultivate happiness. Happiness is not the absence of depression, depression is the absence of happiness. And the reason we’re not happy is because we’re not thinking happy thoughts.
So, some people say to me, “Oh, Marianne, you can’t just think happy thoughts.” They might not realise what I mean by, ‘happy thoughts’. You can’t think of yourself as a victim and be happy. You can’t withhold forgiveness and be happy. You can’t fail to take responsibility for your own circumstances and be happy.
You can’t fail to atone for your mistakes and make amends for them and try to be a better person and be happy. You can’t disengage from the suffering of other human beings or other sentient beings, not address them, and be happy.
So, there is a way in which our entire construct, as a society, is a set-up for despair. And I talk about Buddha and Moses and Jesus and their sort of spiritual transmissions. All of it, all the great spiritual systems, all the great spiritual and religious systems have, at their core, the issue of human suffering. Buddha said, “Life is suffering,” and his realisation of that was the beginning of his journey to enlightenment.
God sent Moses to rescue these suffering Israelites, who were slaves in Egypt. Jesus suffered on the cross. Suffering is what happens when you are living within the vortex of the ego mind, the racial consciousness of the human race, that repudiates love. You can’t be happy here.
And then the journey, whether it’s symbolised by the forty years of the Israelites in the desert, or the hours on the cross and the three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection, is those painful times. Where we are experiencing the suffering, but learning the lessons so that we are then, through the grace of God, on the way to enlightenment, promised land, nirvana, resurrection, whatever you call it.
Lewis Howes: So, you’re saying, the only way to experience growth is through pain or suffering? Or can you experience it…?
Marianne Williamson: No, no. I don’t think that. The Course in Miracles says, “It is not up to you what you learn, it is only up to you whether you learn through joy or through pain.” And in your own work, you know that. But we need to develop the mental musculature that cultivates happiness.
I don’t think we have to learn through pain. I think most of us have, a lot of our lives. I know in my life, I don’t want to learn through pain as much as I did, and that’s why I have wanted to learn the lessons of painful situations, so that next time I do that, I won’t create suffering for myself and others.
* * *
Danielle LaPort: Really, that the heart of this is about being your own guru. And after I was finished the book, I realised that I was still pretty addicted to getting outside input. Like, it was one more psychic reading, it was another intuitive something. It was like, “Well, maybe I need a more specific business coach for this specific issue?” Just, like, one more psychotherapy session, you know?
Lewis Howes: One more yoga session, one more retreat, yeah.
Danielle LaPort: Yeah. And so, I have gone on an input fast. And it feels really confessional. Like, it feels like I’m in an AA meeting, saying, “I’m Danielle, and I haven’t had a psychic reading for eight months.” And just much fewer spiritual paraphernalia in my life. I’m just not referring to those tools as much.
It’s about me, and you know what? It’s fifty-fifty. If you listen to everybody else, your chances of pulling it off, still fifty-fifty. If you listen to yourself, still fifty-fifty. But listening to yourself, oh gosh, you save a lot of money, it’s much more efficient and you really build that muscle. You know, intuition is a muscle. And so much in the self-help space is like, “Listen to that small, inner voice.” And there’s so much noise coming in, people can’t hear that small, inner voice, let alone trusting it, let alone acting on it.
So, you need to just stop with the input and create some space, and then you can hear yourself. And sometimes it’ll be right, and sometimes it’ll lead you somewhere else that you’ll think is wrong, but that’ll turn out right afterwards, when you zoom back and look at the whole situation, but, yeah, input fasting is good for you.
Lewis Howes: I mean, how do you think people should create a structure for themselves to have that space? Because we’re so attached to the phones and, you know, being in the digital information world, what do you recommend? To create that space?
Danielle LaPort: Well, less taking of external input, as I just said. I think you have to have some kind of practice of stillness in your life. And I know everybody would like to avoid it. I know we would like to take shortcuts. I mean, the first thing I do in the morning, when I roll over in bed, is, I check my phone. And then I meditate. So I’m not saying, like, it’s…
Lewis Howes: You’re not perfect.
Danielle LaPort: Yeah, right, so I just want to see who loves me. Like, how many people like…
Lewis Howes: “Did I get any text messages, e-mails, likes…?”
Danielle LaPort: Yeah, did I get affirmation for my value on the planet? And then I tune in. So, whatever it is for you, if it’s your morning run, if it’s your time on the elliptical, if it’s four minutes, if you’re really going to giver and sit for twenty minutes to an hour, you must have that.
And it’s like, we clean our bodies, we clean our system. You know, that light that you encounter when you’re in a meditative state, that is a cleaning of the mind and it needs to happen so that you don’t get the fog, the confusion. I mean, I think, at the most basic level, so many people can relate to just waking up in the morning and not knowing exactly what the priorities are.
Lewis Howes: So many people do that.
Danielle LaPort: Right, it’s that fogginess and this can go on for years.
Lewis Howes: Decades, for people.
Danielle LaPort: Decades.
Lewis Howes: And then they wake up and they say, “What’s my purpose? What am I doing all this for? What’s the reason?”
Danielle LaPort: It adds up, and you’re on Prozac, you’re in the wrong job.
Lewis Howes: Smoking, drinking…
Danielle LaPort: You’re in the wrong relationship, you don’t feel the way you want to feel. So, regular stillness. I think there’s a difference between meditation and contemplation and prayer. Ideally, you’re using all of them. I mean, meditation is formulaic, you’re sitting, it has…
Lewis Howes: It’s a process.
Danielle LaPort: It’s an actual process and you find the way of meditating that works for you. Contemplation is just like, you’re actually actively thinking, you are in, you’re very much in your mind, thinking through things, you are being considerate about what’s happening in your life.
And then prayer is a conversation. And prayer can be, for a lot of us it’s just making the request over and over again. For me, I’m much happier when prayer is about gratitude and I really want to meet my maker halfway.
Yeah, but those things, that’s the reason everybody has been talking about it for 2,000 years. Stillness needs to happen.
Lewis Howes: That’s true.
* * *
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* * *
Lewis Howes: Like, what is the truth? What is the answer?
Rob Bell: Well, the first thing is to realise, if it’s true, then it will fundamentally have paradox baked into it.
Lewis Howes: Give me an example.
Rob Bell: So, okay, let’s say there’s some infinite, divine source of everything. However you want to define, because even when people use the word ‘God’, that’s so loaded.
Lewis Howes: So what would you say then?
Rob Bell: Let’s say there’s some divine source of it all. If you could fully know that source…
Lewis Howes: Source meaning creation of it all, or where it comes from.
Rob Bell: Source meaning it flows from something, it’s sustained by something, there’s something more than just the physical reality we see.
Lewis Howes: Got it. Yes.
Rob Bell: Let’s just say a basic idea like that. If it was completely knowable, then it wouldn’t be infinite, wouldn’t be very big. If your mind could wrap itself around that, that’s not really going to be capable of sustaining something this interesting.
But if it was unknowable and elsewhere, then what about all the great art? What about all the moments of love when you’re like, “There’s something infinite happening between us.” So, source would be both known and unknown, you know what I mean?
Lewis Howes: Yeah, of course.
Rob Bell: So, there would be a fundamental ambiguity that would sit side by side with the clarity. I know that when I serve and give beyond myself, something happens that I affirm, that I can’t quite fully comprehend, but is real. By the way, the Germans have a word for this, Grenzbegriff. The German word, Grenzbegriff, means, that which is real, but beyond analysis.
So, it’s that which, in your bones, Lewis Howes, is like, when I give and serve and move beyond myself and don’t just ask, “What’s good for Lewis Howes, but what do I have that I can share?” I am at that level connecting with something much larger than myself. And the worse off the conditions are, the more it costs, somehow it pulls something out of me even more, which is transcendent, supernatural, divine, miraculous, whatever you want to say.
So that is both as real as it gets for you, and yet, put that on a spreadsheet, you know what I mean? Take a photo of that on your iPad. So, if it is real, if there is some divine source, it’s going to pull multiple things. So, you can see, then, the dangers. The danger of a fundamentalism, “This is how big God is, these are the seven steps, these are the…” It’s like, “No, you haven’t left enough room for mystery.”
But the, “I don’t know, man, we can’t know anything.” Yeah, but I know this guy, Lewis Howes, and when he serves, it makes the world better. So we can know that. So, it would have this both universal and particular, it would have both this absolute and this ever evolving.
And that is, I would argue, the problem is people fall to either side and aren’t willing, because the modern mind loves the binary. “Is it this, or is it this? Are you a winner, or are you a loser? Success or failure?” But the problem is, in failure, is where all this interesting stuff happens.
So, essentially, even to talk about God in a way that might actually not make you crazy, you have to move from this binary thinking to what some would call a ‘non-dual awareness’, where you begin to be able to hold two truths that appear to be opposing, at the same time. So, I would start there.
Lewis Howes: So what do you believe, then?
Rob Bell: So, now, we have something to talk about. Now we have something to talk about. Like in that Everything Is Spiritual Tour that you came to, 13.8 billion years ago the universe explodes out of an infinitely compressed point of nothingness, sometimes called a singularity, that’s what scientists are saying right now. That the universe is 13.8 billion years old and it came out of a point of infinity and it’s just been expanding ever since.
And at first it was just sub-atomic particles and then about three minutes in it formed atoms. Those atoms formed molecules. Somewhere around the 13 billion mark those molecules began to form cells and you had inorganic and then organic cellular life, that was about 9 billion. And then sometime 13 billion years in, you have the Earth, with animals, and then you have these sentian, upright homo-sapiens that can write poems and talk about this stuff? And people are like, “There’s no mystery,”? That just happened?
So, my starting point, any discussion about God, to me, would simply be, “We’re here. And this thing has been expanding and unfolding.” And if you’re going to tell me, “No, it’s just molecules, it’s just synapses, it’s just cells,” I would say, “Seriously?” The most intellectually honest thing, for me, would be to leave space for something. Let’s just start there.
Then the question becomes, “What would you name that?” It’s interesting, in the Bible, there’s lots and lots of different names for God, because, essentially, when you use the word ‘God’, you’re trying to name ultimate reality. And that’s what actually started to happen to me when I was reading studies in the Bible.
I was like, “Wait, there’s a bunch of different names for God, here. And this person uses this name, and this person talks about mystery, this person talks about revelation, the idea that there’s some things you could know.” So that’s what happened to me. It was like, “Well, how can you know which is which?” This is what the writers of the Bible are wrestling with.
Or, how can we know if God is on our side? Because we’re slaves. Is God okay with this arrangement? Is the universe okay with this person owning us? So the Exodus story. This big, giant rescue of slaves and Moses. That was a story asking the question, “Is the universe okay with us being owned?” And the story was about, “No, it’s not.” God is actually the God of the oppressed. The forces are on the side of the underdog, the immigrant, the refugee, the single mom.
So that’s always, to me, an abstract talk about God isn’t that interesting. But I start talking about God, if there is a God, well, definitely that God would be on the side of the refugee, the immigrant, the single parent trying to hold it together.
Lewis Howes: And there you have it my friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Again, the Spiritual Truths From The Masters. All about how to unlock the soul and connect to a higher purpose in our life.
If you’ve ever felt frustrated or confused about any of these things, then make sure to lean on these episodes. Go to the full show notes at lewishowes.com/641, to listen to one of the specific episodes in more depth on the person you resonated with the most. Again, we’ll have the links on where you can go find those at lewishowes.com/641.
Again, big thank you to our sponsor, netsuite.com/greatness. If you want to get a free guide on how to crush the five barriers to growth, you’re going to learn how to acquire new customers, increase profits and finally get real visibility into your cash flow. Get the free guide right now at netsuite.com/greatness. Again, one more time, netsuite.com/greatness.
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And if you haven’t got your ticket to The Summit of Greatness yet, make sure to go to summitofgreatness.com, get your ticket, get a ticket for some friends, bring a whole group of people, because the early bird discount is going up very soon, so I want to make sure you save and get in before that runs out.
And we just announced our first speaker at summitofgreatness.com, so make sure to go to that site, check it out, as we’ll be releasing new updates to speakers every couple of weeks as the price goes up.
And again, if you’ve ever been unsure of yourself, unsure of your purpose, of your mission, of why you’re here, then make sure to reflect on these guest interviews, this mash-up from today. Because we’re all in this together, we’re all trying to figure it out. And everyone has a different purpose, a different meaning of why we’re here.
But it’s important for you to discover what works for you, to keep you happy, joyful, to keep you grateful, to keep you moving forward in a positive way, as opposed to a destructive way. So I hope you enjoyed this episode.
Again, Carlos Castanada said, “We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.”
Make sure you’re spending the time and energy to bring joy to yourself and happiness to those around you as it’s just as much effort to make yourself miserable, and make everyone else around you miserable as well.
I love you so very much, and you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!