“If you seek tranquillity, do less.” Or (more accurately) do what’s essential...Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary?”
But we need to eliminate unnecessary assumptions as well. To eliminate the unnecessary actions that follow. And then you might see what the life of the good man is like - someone content with what nature assigns him, and satisfied with being just and kind himself.
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
At one of my lectures, someone asked the following questions:
“William, if you have children, what kind of school would you put them in?”
“Homeschool,” I exclaimed.
“Two reasons. First, because it’s more efficient - I could tailor the learning pace according to each child’s learning abilities. Second, there is nothing new to teach academically, so homeschooling allows the children to learn only what is relevant. And then they could use the remaining time exploring their interests.”
“What if your children want to attend a regular school?”
“Then that’s fine - makes my job easier. Keep in mind, they must follow the school’s requirements and rules. At home, I only have one rule.”
“And what’s that?”
“Find your purpose in life - what you’re meant to do, what you’re good at. It is the only thing that is essential. Everything else is irrelevant.”
“But how are they suppose to find that?”
“Well, there are many different ways, but the key is to keep learning about yourself. You can learn more about yourself by improving your self-awareness, by simply observing yourself. In time, you’ll discover who you are. And no one can give you a system or method to find it. You have to do this yourself.”
“When someone gives you a way then it’s not yours.”
“Well said. You have learned your lesson.”
Here’s an example:
A boy was found at the edge of the forest, lying down beside a boulder. He had received a strenuous blow to the head, which had made him forget who he was. He had lost his memory.
Upon waking up at the hospital, the staff questioned him, and he would say, “I don’t know who I am, or where I come from,” and a stream of tears would start flowing from his eyes. In the end, three families claimed he belonged to them. Of course, it was not possible that he belonged to three families, so they took him to each of the three towns and left him on his own.
In two of the towns he just stood, very confused, and didn’t know what to do. But when he arrived at the third town, his dull eyes suddenly lit up and his expressionless face started showing emotion. He went to one street all by himself and, seeing a particular house, started to run toward it. It was as if some power had suddenly entered his sleepy soul. He had recognized something; he had remembered his home. With a feeling of utter joy he said, “This is my house. Now I remember who I am!”
The same thing has happened to all of us. We have forgotten who we are because we have forgotten where our home is. Once we are able to see our home, it is natural to recognize our true self.
We constantly search - in the countryside, by the sea, on the mountain - and even I, myself, is prone to this yearning. But all this is quite the contrary, when it is open to us at any moment, a seek within. No search offers someone more peace and quiet and relaxation than that into one’s own mind.
Truth exists within our very self. And it is not even so difficult to find, but we have to travel inside to do so. When one goes inside oneself, one finds truth as well as one’s self, at the deepest core of his or hers life’s breath.
All this does not mean that you simply wait and do nothing. All this, I simply mean a well-ordered life, like keeping a room in order and leaving the window open. You can never invite the wind, but you must leave the window open. Then perhaps, if you’re aware enough, a cool breeze will come in.