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Take One Morsel at a Time

April 28, 2009

The Sufi mystic Shams-e-Tabriz gives guidance on the principles of discipline and patience when he says –

“There is an advantage in being able to eat one single morsel.  You can benefit form that morsel to the extent that you are patient; and then you eat another morsel.  This is wisdom.”

I find this to be such a simple and profound truth.  Just today, I had lunch with a 19-year old college student who told me that he could not imagine life without technology, such as Facebook, email and his iPhone.  We discussed how fragmented our attention is amidst the ever-overflowing inbox of life.  Think of all the spam we get in our inbox and in our life!  We live in a multi-tasking, fast-paced world, where it is easy to be diverted from the “single morsel” approach espoused by Shams.  He continues this lesson by adding –

“Rather than begin a new lesson each day, repeat the same lesson.  If a person immerses deeply in a matter, then it is his right to reach a good result.  A thousand other things emerge from that.”

What is the primary lesson of your life right now?  If you had to pick one “morsel” to focus on, what would it be?  Think of the “thousand” benefits that can emerge from your successful mastery of this one area in your life.  Of course, nobody expects you to drop everything you are doing and dedicate 100% of your time and attention to one thing.  This advice is not to be taken so literally.  The point is that we must avoid becoming fragmented through all of the distractions that life can present.  When we lose our attention, we lose ourselves.  Strive to become more conscious of the influences around you – from media to co-workers to family members – and observe how they make you feel about the primary lesson which you are currently dedicated to.  Solicit support from those whom you feel can provide encouragement and help you to stay on track.  And most imporantly, when you find that you have gone astray, do not get down – so what if you missed a day at the gym or smoked that cigarette or could not grasp the deeper meaning of a particular issue.  “Repeat the same lesson” the next day and be persistent.  Through your prolonged efforts and focus on one thing at a time, you will reach a good result.

– Quotes given in this blog entry are from Page 72 of Rumi’s Sun: The Teachings of Shams of Tabriz.
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