Why our opinions don’t matter…but the truth does

One of the tenets of New Age or “spiritual but not religious” philosophy that I found hard to swallow in the beginning was the idea of staying neutral to all things; not judging outcomes, not judging situations, and not clinging to dogmatic opinions. Opinions, so we are told, are simply inventions of our ego – and the universe cares not a whit for any of it.

My mind protested – surely truth exists! After all, even the idea that there are no absolute truths claims to be an absolute truth. Anyone who advocates this opinion really ought to be consistent and argue that there are no absolute truths besides the fact that there are no absolute truths. But then, claiming the existence of just one absolute truth tends to undermine the credibility of the entire opinion.

Indeed, there really is truth. And there really is a right way and a wrong way to live your life. Not all decisions that we make in our lives are subject to this absoluteness, but many of them are. Yes, there is an order to life – what is traditionally known as the natural order.

Diet is a great example of the distinction between the natural order and subjective opinion. Broadly summarised, the natural order of food is that we should eat enough to satiate hunger and sustain our bodily functions – and no more, and that the food we eat should be unprocessed, unadulterated by chemicals and full of nutrients. As long as the food we eat covers these basic requirements, then our diet is in tune with the natural order and will be healthy for us. Any other dietary prescriptions beyond the natural order of food are the realm of subjective opinion only. Certainly, individuals vary in their specific requirements, but any requirements outside of the natural order are ultimately traceable back to mental patterns and beliefs.

A common belief among spiritual people is that a wholly plant based diet is higher vibrational than an omnivorous diet, because meat carries the vibration of death, or something. Certainly it is true that when people switch to a vegetarian diet, they often report greater mental clarity, happiness and spiritual abilities. The trouble is, so do people on the keto diet – which consists of more meat than anything else. Provided both diets cover the requirements of the natural order, they are both capable of producing the reported results, provided people believe in them.

I’m not the first person to note this, by the way – Louse Hay observes the equal effectiveness of contradictory diet advice in You Can Hear Your Life. What do we learn from it? The natural order matters – food must be unprocessed, unadulterated and nutritious to be healthy. However, beyond the natural order, our dietary opinions do not matter at all. If we believe in it, it works. Eventually we may raise ourselves to such a level of consciousness that we transcend even the natural order – as in the well-documented stories of mystics who have completely moved beyond the need for food and drink. But most of us are bound by the rules of the natural order; because the natural order is the absolute truth that governs life on Earth – and if we live our life in opposition to it, it will crush us.

Although there is still significant debate about certain aspects of the natural order, some parts of it are accepted by virtually all. Don’t steal, as stealing leads to anxiety, remorse, escalating dishonesty, avarice, possible legal consequences and so on. Don’t lie, as it will lead to many of the same consequences and result in a tendency to be lied to. And although it is now far from universally accepted, I think most people would agree that sexual promiscuity is a violation of the natural order, which leads to guilt, loss of self-respect, addiction to gross pleasures, unwanted pregnancies, STDs, loss of spiritual aspiration, a tendency to sexualise others, escalating sexual practices and so on.  Thus, the absolute truth about sexuality that proceeds from the natural order is that sexual activity must be confined within certain strict limits, or it will spill over and cause undesirable consequences for the individual and society.

However, any further inferences that we make from this absolute truth tend to be subjective opinions. For example, the idea that there should be civil laws regulating people’s sexual conduct is not an absolute truth. The reason for this is simple: while we can know the principles on which life is based, we cannot know the grand plan that governs all things.

Allow me to explain.  Formerly, there were civil laws and expectations governing polite society that dictated our rules of sexual conduct. That all changed in the 20th century, especially with the spectacular explosion of sexual liberty that occurred in the 60s.  Comparing western world statistics for divorce, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, pornography use, extramarital affairs and, sadly, depression and suicide between the 1950s and now, it appears that this sexual liberation was disastrous for the overall order and happiness of society. Indeed, if the ultimate purpose of life is to build an ordered, comfortable, prosperous society with a certain degree of equality and a high standard of living, then civil laws and expectations governing sexual conduct appear to be a sensible and logical measure.

But since the ultimate purpose of life is actually to evolve our souls and bring the uncreated, infinite eternal into created, finite form – perhaps this temporary setback in society actually serves a greater good. Having had the scaffolding of civil laws and expectations removed, perhaps we are now being left to fend for ourselves in order that we may stumble and fall – and ultimately rise again, rediscovering the truth of the natural order in a much deeper way than laws and expectations could ever impress upon us.  Just as a child can be told not to touch a hot stove, but may only learn the lesson thoroughly after he disobeys the order and burns himself, it seems that we are learning to deeply ingrain the truths of the natural order in our souls by seeing for ourselves the nasty consequences of disobeying them.  Or perhaps this is completely wrong, and there is another equally providential reason for the scaffolding of polite society having been torn down – we simply cannot know the grand plan until its unfoldment.

Whatever becomes of society, we should remember two things: the natural order on this planet is unchanging and merciless. If we live our life in opposition to it, we will create severe consequences for ourselves – and this is an inescapable fact, not an opinion. But whatever thoughts we hold on the way things should be, or the way society should be run are nothing but our own opinions. And even though the road may get a little rocky along the way, the destination is far greater than anything we can conceive of.

Whatever stage we are at in that grand plan, let’s keep our peace and remain neutral at all times to the grand design of the all-knowing one.

Honesty is always the best policy – in life and in business

Multimillionaire Australian businessman Jim Penman, founder of the Jim’s group, attributes his success in business to his policy of applying scrupulous honesty in all his dealings with his franchisees, and always doing his utmost to look after their interests. In his book Selling without Selling, Jim tells the following story of his early days selling lawn mowing franchises, his first (and still most recognisable) foray into the business world:

“I had no people skills, I couldn’t take rejection, and I absolutely hated selling. I was a thoroughly awful salesman. But now, for my business to succeed, I had to sell mowing rounds consistently, month after month. I struggled with this problem for a couple of years and tried many ways to overcome it. I approached business agencies, experimented with different forms of advertising, even hired others to sell rounds for me. It came to the point where a professional salesman, on commission, sold rounds for me in my office while I either looked on or sat with my back to the scene, pretending to be involved in something else. If this sounds absurd, it was. It was also ineffective. I asked a family friend what I should do. ‘Be your own salesman,’ he said. ‘No one can sell your own business as well as you can.’ Easy for him to say. He had the charm and confidence that went with many years as a business manager. Not much help to a social incompetent like me.

But he was right, and one day I did learn how to sell. Which opened the door to a business far beyond anything I could have imagined. It happened because I was looking for advice on advertising, and went to see someone I knew who was partner in an advertising firm…

Eventually he invited me in and spent half an hour answering my questions. Advising me on media, how to word ads, anything he thought might help me out. And at the end of the interview, advised me that I really could organise and control my own advertising, and that at this stage I didn’t need an agency. I remember leaving the office feeling very impressed by this man and his agency – but then wondering why. He had not told me about his clients nor shown me any promotions. In fact, he had advised me not to use him. Yet I knew that if I ever did need an agency, I would use his without hesitation, without asking about price, and without considering any competitors. (Which I did a few later when we decided to run TV commercials). He had done nothing to sell me on his business, yet he had given me the most effective sales pitch of my life.”

Jim then decided to apply this approach when seeking his own clients. He continues:

“What if their best interests lay in not buying from me? I faced this challenge about a month later when a young man who had been to see me rang back for advice. He had been offered another round in the same area. Which did I think was better? I asked him all the relevant questions: the cut, the number of clients and how widely scattered they were… Then I did my sums. The other round worked out about ten per cent better value than mine. What to do? I was taking this approach to try and grow my business, but if I advised him fairly he would buy the other one. At this point what came to the fore was something that had been a standing joke in my family for years: my complete inability to tell a lie. There are a number of stories of me blurting out some inconvenient truth in response to a question, a symptom of my extreme social awkwardness. So in this case I just told the truth. I said the other business was better and advised him to buy it. He thanked me and hung up.”

The same thing happened with two other clients. Jim was feeling quite virtuous but a little discouraged, until something amazing happened. All three of them rang him back and bought from him!

“Amazing as it may seem, from that time on I had no more problems selling lawn mowing runs. And weirdest of all was that my own social ineptness, my biggest obstacle to successful sales, had become my greatest asset! I forgot about all other principles and focused on making my buyers into fans, a job which only just began when they bought the business. I would give them advice over the phone, provide free training seminars, be scrupulously fair in replacing lost clients, and buy back their businesses at the best possible price if they wanted to sell.”

Any reputable sales or marketing guru would say that Jim was crazy for telling the prospects not to buy from him. Yet his phenomenal success in business proves a very profound spiritual truth – when you go with the flow of the natural order, everything works out better. Honesty is in alignment with the natural order – dishonesty, sleaze and coercion are not.

Although readers may point out that the many of the richest people on the planet have not earned a reputation for resplendent scruples, if we exclude the top-tier wealthy (i.e. people with the ability to manipulate the system in their favour), I believe you’ll find that honesty is actually a powerful asset in business, as well as being an absolute must for anyone on a serious spiritual journey.

One of the problems with modern life is that everything has been over-studied and over-analysed to the point where it has been reduced to a formula. Everyone’s so busy trying to get the upper hand by manipulating people’s emotions that some very basic principles have been lost – principles which used to be fundamental to the majority of people’s lives.

Sales is one of those over-studied and over-formularised areas – hence why you can’t buy anything online these days without being subjected to a torrent of aggressive sales bullying. You know the drill, because you see it every time you buy anything online – upgrade to the luxury package within 24 hours to claim your exclusive discount, and if you choose to spend ten times more than what you originally intended to, you’ll get a never-to-be-repeated 90% saving on the extra products! Stocks are strictly limited so order now!

There’s no doubt that someone employing these kind of techniques would have much more impressive weekly sales statistics than Jim. But how many of these people go on to build lasting multi-million dollar international empires? How far can sleazy marketing really take you before people cotton on and refuse to do business with you? How many businesses have had meteoric rises on the back of these kind of tricks – then have spectacularly crashed and burnt? You’ve all heard the stories.

Politicians are another example of things being studied and formularised to the point of ruination. The idea may have made some sense in the beginning – after all, why not put your best foot forward and deliver your message in a way that resonates with voters? And because the initial strategies worked, politicians assumed that more must be better. Now everything that comes out of their mouths has been focus group tested and spun to within an inch of its life. Somewhere along the line, all authenticity and honesty was lost from the equation and virtually all politicians became loathsome walking focus groups, despised by all and sundry. If a politician appeared who actually spoke honestly and directly to the public, he’d be a shoo-in at any election.

So be honest with others, and above all else – be honest with yourself. Not only are you developing and cultivating your own integrity by doing so, but you’re setting a good example. You’ll never be caught in lies and your reputation as an honest person will precede you. Live an ordered life in unison with life and the universe, and the universe will look after you beyond your wildest expectations.