What Matters Most by James Hollis

Living a More Considered Life

This book will not cover basic and obvious things like relationships. This book is more concerned over the relationship with one-self. Imagination is our greatest faculty. At the minimum, we should bring no harm to others. We should take responsibility for our personal shadow. Consider the idea of loss in your life. Relationships will bring us new problem and we will learn to solve them. This will help us to grow even more. One needs to learn to be accepted in society. One needs to stay psychologically balanced and in silent contemplation. We retain the freedom to choose and determine our fate even in trying circumstances. Humor is important. The ideas contained in the book should keep you thinking and reflecting. We must continue to contribute to the world. We should understand and become more of ourselves. This book is for those who view themselves as exiles. In the past, there was no need for self-reflection. We need to answer questions that life throws at us or we will live an unconscious, unreflective life.

We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunk, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. – James Hollis

Shock and Awe: That Life not be Governed by Fear. Sometimes, you will get moments of Deja-vu in life. How do you get back when you lost your track in life. Life from birth to death is fraught with danger. Values and ethics get passed down from one generation to next. There is killing and eating in the animal kingdom and we live in a competitive society. We need to recognize that life is cruel and that prey has to die. Yet as life seems fleeting, we long for its permanence and stability. The fact is that life is extremely unpredictable. Cancer can strike one anytime. Therefore, it is important not to be governed by fears. Many kids think that the world revolves around themselves. However, some still are attention getting and seeking when they grow up. We all suffer from overgeneralization. Parents should not go into hiding and avoid difficult questions asked by their children. For relationships to thrive, couples must forgive each other and show grace. Often, subconsciously, we let others define who we are. Our soul never sleeps. The psyche can provide us with hidden energy to choose the right course. It is a constant battle going on in our brain. One needs to ask ‘what really matters most’. Our ego is on autopilot. Often, our decisions are made from adaptations in the past. It is important to recognize the fear (example: ego). Learning to cope with your fears will liberate you. Do not hate humans as they are all subject to the same fear. In general, we suffer from the fear of ‘overwhelmment’ and ‘abandonment’. Although humans are weak, you should have your own will and not simply listen to others. When we are afraid to get neglected, we start becoming control freaks or dominate others. We are all exposed to such threats. Fear is the enemy.

How easy to fall back into the sleep of innocence, naiveté, fundamentalism of one kind or another, avoidance, rationalization, and self-deception. These demons are the enemy of life. – James Hollis

Fear not. What is not real, never was and never will be. What is real, always was and cannot be destroyed. – The Bhagavad Gita

We are defined as a reticulated network of behaviors, attitudes toward self and world, and reflexive stratagems designed to get our needs met and to manage the anxiety in whose slipstream we daily stride. – James Hollis

Saving the Appearances: That We Learn to Tolerate Ambiguity. Some stories of our lives are unconscious in nature. Choose security over honesty. We have the power to rewrite biographies. Sometimes, we suffer from an identity crisis. Often, we find ourselves in between states and experience various contradictory messages. Life is full of ambiguity and complexity. Bruno endorsed Copernican observations even when at that time, everyone thought that the Earth was in the center of the Universe. Acknowledge the complexity of the modern world. Do not keep relying on older models. Things change over time. Bruno was placed under house arrest after publishing his views. When ambiguity emerges, some societies take the fascist mentality and discounts dissenting views and thoughts. Some people sacrifice in order to reach a higher goal. Sometimes, in order to ‘save appearances’, we lie etc. We all want to stick to collective views and to avoid ambiguity. This is known as the herd mentality. Knowing what you do not know is wisdom. Subtleties and contradictions need to be eliminated. We need to respect ambiguity and tolerate anxiety. Politics tends to make people’s lives more comfortable. Is it acceptable for our lives to be governed by fear? One should rely on the facts.

The truth is, all of life is a grand, blooming ambiguity. The more we know about it, the more we realize we do not know. – James Hollis

Unchallenged conviction begets rigidity, which begets regression; but ambiguity opens us to discovery, complexity, and therefore growth. The health of our culture, and the magnitude of our personal journeys, require that we learn to tolerate ambiguity, in service to a larger life. – James Hollis

Starving Amid Abundance: That We Consider Feeding the Soul. What happened to old rituals? In the past, people performed rituals for the sun to rise. Why do so many people head to Las Vegas to gamble? It has to mean something right. Why do they come? Is gambling so seductive? Why do people gamble even though they know the house will win? Has people projected their souls onto money? Some people think that if they win, they are gifted. Some think that money can transform their lives. Money is spiritually irrelevant. Are we spiritually impoverished? Soul means psyche and it is the essence of our being. When we live in accordance with our soul’s intent, we feel an inner peace. Although we have many material comforts, we are starving. In life, we are encouraged to find salvation for sufferings and to distract ourselves. Most of us listen too much to our parents and lose our own message. Do not simply defers your interests in service of others. Learn to make important choices about your life. Once in a while, review your commitments and try to make a difference. Spare some time to feed your own soul. It is the task of life to find what really can feed our soul. There is no right or wrong answer. When you experience boredom or loss of energy, the psyche is not right. Always pay attention to levels of satisfaction and reciprocity. We should no longer ignore our soul anymore.

We serve the world by finding what feeds us, and, having been fed, then share our gift with others. – James Hollis

That We Respect the Power of Eros. A lot of us want to lead controlled and predictable lives. Why do people who have attained huge success in life suddenly give it up? Why do they engage in self-defeat at the end? Eros was a young God. How can we not be possessed by Eros? Eros is our God. God suggests a form of immensity and endurance. Eros is a life force, and so is Logos. Both of them manifest in our soul. We need them to balance one another. One existential condition is separation. We need to get used to being alone. Eros is all about connection. For females, Eros is a big thing and women invest a lot in their relationships. Men treat Eros as more goal-directed behaviors. Men tend to focus more on external attainments. For that reason, men tend to be lonelier. Their lives seem to be miserable at times. Some of them turn to pornography and drugs and alcohol. For a man, he tends to project his anima upon success. They want to show that they are instinctive and sexual. For a female, it is more about spirited energy. If you are not in touch with Eros, you will feel that something is missing. Women have a more nuanced relationship to Eros. Men usually do not respond well to crises. Women can bounce back because they have a stronger network of friends. Women tend to grieve openly and with more honesty. Men try to bury and deflect. Carl Jung thought that culture forms are intrinsic search for meaning. We are symbol-making animals. Always ask what life requires and wants of us? Do not neglect your Eros at all cost.

That we Step into Largeness. We need to adapt to the voices around us. Most of us prefer to live ‘small’. Do not serve till you neglect your own needs. Sometimes, even though you have been a good parent, you still wonder why something is missing. You start asking, why am I here? Often, we do not understand ourselves well enough. Do not lose permission to be who you are. We lose contact with our instinctual guidance. Sometimes, people confuse their identity with their outward persona. Many teenage girls would rather be a celebrity. They long for fame and attention. You can’t escape from your soul. Often, people cling on to strongly to their past and do not let go. Some like to complain that others do not care about them. They have not lived a larger life. Some just refuse to grow up and take care of themselves. It is important to stop whining and take charge of your life. No choice is without cost. The contradictions faced in life are important to help us grow. Many children from broken homes suffer later in life. But it does not need to end up this way. To some, being lazy is something bad and they would not be able to tolerate such periods of their lives. Sometimes, you can do what the soul wants. Realize that what our psyches are different from what the world wants of us. Live your inner authority with risk and boldness. Fear is an enemy of largeness. Some people fear their own freedom that they do not take any action in the first place. One needs to escape your clutches of your past. It is crucial to step out of fear and reductionism.

That We Risk Growth over Security. Fear holds up back from conquering the world. Lethargy causes us to be seduced and leads to procrastination. Living requires a lot of effort. Do not be afraid to show up because you can’t meet expectations. But does this mean you should live a very stable life? Do not live someone else’s life. Sometimes, you just have to step out into the unknown. Every time our emotional development stalls, enlargements of our soul can painfully teach us an important lesson. Most people actually prefer security over growth. If you choose security, you do not allow your soul to grow. Our psyche will demand us to grow and to explore and to stay curious. There is a lot to learn. Odysseus was someone who always faced his fears and persisted. Do not get distracted and lose our journey. We endeavor to educate our young. Even the author requires an education. Often, after we have attained our goals, we stop and rest and stop striving further. During the second stage of your life, stop and ask what matters most. Life is about being defeated by even larger things.

Boredom is the pathology of the depressed, or the unimaginative. Ceasing to grow is a failure of nerve, because it is not what our psyche demands. – James Hollis

That We Live Verbs not Nouns. Our ego is complex. Our ego prefers predictability and certainty. It prefers comforting nouns. However, in reality, things are never fixed. It is strange that modern people still deny the theory of evolution. If you do not expose your children to theory, they cannot learn and progress. We naturally want to pin down the world and control it. Even though we can control our natural environment, we are still unhappy at times. The truth is that everything is in flux. For most religious concepts, it stemmed from an affective experience before becoming an idea. Communities have more staying power than societies. Humans created dogma, rites and cultic practices. Rites are reenactment of primal experience. Cultic practices are events that help preserve a set of values. Communities get institutionized. We are all idolaters and need intelligence. Some people who attend Bible Studies are more interested in finding certainty than exploration.

That We Find and Follow the Path of Creativity and Delight in Foolish Passions. A man I know was obsessed with the cultivation of grapes and wines. He was an oenophile. Such behavior was associated with snobbery. Sometimes, we are stirred by forms and images. We can be inspired by them. It is different to be possessed by a god and by a complex. Which God should one choose? ‘What does it ask for me?’ Ordinary people, under extraordinary circumstances, have murdered other humans too. We do not choose our enthusiasms. Passions must resonate within us. Keep your enthusiasm alive. Some people are willing to take risks. We all want to freely express ourselves, but are held back sometimes. What does your soul want? Do not let the ‘parent complex’ stand in your way. We are all asked to die. Through death, we can enact the developmental plan. Do not live in constant servitude to your parents’ wishes. Pay close attention to what your dreams tell you. At times, your dreams can reveal your psyche and what it is trying to reveal. We need to sacrifice ego comforts in order to grow and develop. A passion is something which we feel deeply. All of us have passions. At times, we can revive some of them. Use your free time to indulge in your passion. There is nothing foolish about passion. Each of us have our own myth to create. Reading can be a passion too. Passions can be constant. People were doing the same things very long ago as well. Passion helps provide much needed clarity. Passions can invoke nostalgia. It also provides something in common with another person. It serves as a bridge among different people and even different generations. Some passions can be timeless and transcend generations of people. Although our memory might fail us, there are times when passions help provide meaning for our lives. Let your passions nourish and animate.

There is a big difference between wasting time – our popular culture offers a vast arena of possibilities for doing so – and having a passion. – James Hollis

That We Engage Spiritual Crises, and other Bad Days at the Office. Even in the worst of crises, try to learn from it. A spiritual crisis occurs when we can’t understand ourselves properly. We often create a fake self to deal with anxiety. Some of them might be due to trauma etc. Although humans are resilient, we get hurt easily. Sometimes, we all feel powerless. When you understand that life is absurd, then you will start to make choices with real consequences. Choose your inner values carefully. Sometimes, by fate, we end up in places where we don’t want to visit. At times, there might be discrepancies between expectations and outcomes. Problems arise when we expect too much of others. Life might be problematic when we are constantly being told what to do but can’t do anything for ourselves. What are the methods to deal with the above? Sometimes, cultures can even collapse. Ego consciousness might implode on itself. Life can overwhelm us from time to time. Healing is important, but unfortunately, not everyone heals. Some people regress and they prefer the old state of affairs. However, we stop growing because of this. We all need to find what is true for ourselves and to find the truth. There are too many modern distractions like computer games nowadays. Hordes of people believed in communism and embraced fascism. Herd mentality is strong in humans. Our psyche is constantly evolving and growing.

That we write our story, lest someone else write it for us. We all have to achieve our own agenda. Life is a sum of our stories. We all need to stand for things we believe in. We should live our stories. Unconscious stories affect us as well. You are always free to rewrite your life’s plot. As a kid, we used to wonder about the world a lot. We are usually in service to someone else’s questions. As adults, most of us have lost our childhood wonder. Ask yourself, who are you? Learn to connect with the invisible world. The poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, also reflects on his childhood days. We are still trying to figure out what to do with our stories. The great people in life are never happy. The modern culture is all about addiction and distraction. Many adults have forgotten their story of their past. How can we take corrective action? How can we reclaim our journey? We need to take accountability of our own story. We must learn to embrace uncertainty. Do not ‘go home’ and go to somewhere that is safe. You must listen to the story that your psyche tells you. It is not necessary to climb the corporate ladder. Rather, one should just strive to be a better human being. What matters most is that we become who we really are.

What was the face you had before the world was made? – Zen koan

Amor Fati: That we fight fate, and love it also. Fate can destroy our journey. We are the primary source of our own suffering. Some of us suffer from the narcissistic personality disorder. To what degree should we serve fate? Do you still have room to play? We need to recognize that energy is ever changing. Life is about the accumulated consequences we have made. Each of us all have stories. We need to experience a larger measure of consciousness. One needs to do logical things. However, do not keep manipulating the psyche of others. Our story can be changed via risk, courage, energy and persistence. How can one expect to love one’s fate? Our psyche is indeed a shape shifter. It is a fact that we do not have complete freedom in our lives. Humans created the concept of ‘karma’. Life is driven by inherited forces. The fact is that sports can build character. We all owe death a life. Even sometimes are beyond our control, we should play life with elan and a healthy investment of spirit. Life is more than outcomes, it is also about attitude. The first half of our lives is usually preoccupied with the sense of developing an ego. The second half of our life is to seek out the meaning of life. We need to keep asking what life asks of us.

That we live more fully in the shadow of mortality. How can we live more abundantly in the presence of our mortality? Modern medicine can prolong life, but it can’t prevent the inevitable. Modern people are living longer. Is longevity the goal? Are we living better lives? Sometimes, we can achieve what we want in life but still feel miserable inside. Some people believe in an afterlife. Judaism believes that one lives through one’s descendants. Those people who have taken risks in their lives usually have a better time with dealing with mortality. Mortality means that what we do matters. We have to live more responsibly and more reflectively. There is no need to shrink from death. It is important to develop a relationship with the present. Keep asking why you are here. There is a need to respect symbol formations too. To experience joy, one needs to also experience loss. It is courageous to live in service to your values.

Look, you and I are going to die; the readers of this poem will die; the page will turn to dust, so I won’t delude ourselves into immortal pretensions, but rather I will say, simply, I saw you there, outlined in the doorway, with the sun at your back – I saw you. – Archibald MacLeish

That we accept at last that our home is our journey, and our journey is our home. Our life is a strange rhythm of exile and homecoming. Why is exile necessary? We must depart from what we know in order to cope with uncertainty. We all have different tasks to address. Pathology should be your friend as it helps in reconciliation. Suffering is the requisite for consciousness and recovery. Suffering is humbling in nature. Homecoming means re-establishing the relationship with the self. It is the journey that matters even though you might not find the snow leopard. The journey can one unimaginable richness. Life is always full of surprises. I am always filled with awe and horror at the same time. During the first stage of our life, we struggle with the world. Can we still be honest with ourselves? Religion doesn’t bring out the best in people all the time. We all need to construct more meaning. Keep seeking to improve yourself. The world is full of travelers. We all need to do good and to do it faithfully. One needs to wrest with the bigger questions in life.

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3 thoughts on “What Matters Most by James Hollis

  1. Pingback: What Matters Most by James Hollis | Ola Queen Bee of Astrology

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