Ancient Wisdom: The 7 most Illuminated Minds

In today’s busy world, we seem to see our problems as new ones. Truth is some of our problems today are no different than millennia before. In the path for self discovery we come across some of the same questions as our ancestors; it is important to recognize wisdom does not grow old or out of style. It takes arduous work to look in and confront our inner demons and embrace our darkness. Through history we have been lucky to have had some of the greatest minds leave behind for us some of their writings, their experiences and the wisdom accumulated; through them we can learn to guide ourselves.

The following teachings are not specific to any religion, race, orientation; the beauty of these teachings is that they can be applied to everyone without discrimination. They are to help us raise our vibrational level, to help us stretch the limitations we have set up for ourselves, pushing our minds to places which perhaps we do not dare to look at.

The following sages, masters, teachers, guides or whatever you feel comfortable calling them, taught and wrote extensively on philosophical matters. It would take a long time to write down each of their teachings, instead here you will find one lesson for each of the 7 teachers I will mention. If you like what you read I hope you choose to go and research them more and discover for yourself just how much many of their teachings can apply to you and your troubles now days. If nothing else it will open your mind to different perceptions.
I certainly haven’t mastered all of these but that is okay, everyone of us has something to work on; the point is to recognize and accept that, otherwise you get stuck in your ways. After all you can’t change what you don’t know exists in you.

1) Huineng: “Meditate at all times.”
Huineng was Zen’s sixth and last patriarch and probably the most influential monk in the school of Chan and Zen in China. Many people consider him the father of modern Buddhism.
Huineng used to say “Clouds do not diminish the lights in the sky, nor do they diminish the Sun or moon’s light”.
Huineng would preach that the art of meditation should be practice at all times not only in a specific place or a set time. He would emphasize how physical posture is far less important when it comes to mediation than the attitude you have and how such attitude affects your mind. He would always state how inner truth is something which could be discovered regardless of your position (lying down, sitting, or standing up)–he was referring to the ability to fully pay attention to something, the way to achieve this is by maximizing our consciousness.

He believed if someone really wanted to transcend limitations of consciousness then such person would put all his/her efforts at focusing on how his/her interactions are towards self, others and the world in general. Something like detaching of one self, an spectator who is watching a movie. He believed this was required in order to find joy and peace of mind.

2) Jesus of Nazareth: “Love your neighbor, your enemy, love yourself. Love everyone. Just love.”
It cannot be determined with exactitude which sayings were actually Jesus’ and which were attributed to him by those who wrote the bible. Regardless of religion however, there is no denying Jesus was an enlightened being, leader and a great teacher.
His doctrines focused on love and equality. Jesus treated all people the same, whether rich or poor, beggar or influential, men or women.
He was certain all people possess the same light and darkness, and hence he treated them accordingly.

In today’s world we can see the tremendous amount of problems which arise through discrimination, ignorance and apathy. It is necessary to know how to stand your ground yet practice understanding and empathy in order to find the enlightened path which will then take you to rediscover who you are at your core. To rediscover who you are at your core will eliminate your false ego which will then lead you to happiness and internal peace.

3) Rumi: “We all have the same origin.”
Rumi is the mystic thinker of the XII century. Rumi’s teachings have had tremendous impacts on both east and west. Rumi was able to unite a lot of people, religions and nations. Even after his death his greatest teaching; that of removing all obstacles between you and God’s perfect love; is still being embraced by billions of people all over the world.

Rumi believed one of the ways to remove those obstacles was to become a person of service. Someone who helps others, not from a place of false ego where recognition is necessary, rather from a place of pure love. Rumi used to say “Not everyone speaks the same language, but those who share the same sentiments/feelings, will understand each other.”

Rumi became known for promoting equality among everyone, regardless of religion, nationality, place in society or traditions. He believed we all have the same origin, which makes us all family. He rejected the belief that people born in lower stations were to accept abuse in this life time.
He said if we focus on the differences of others–born in a different country, have a different religion, have different traditions–and see these differences as bad, that pattern of thinking will lead to abuse. One group will try to abuse another because they see themselves as “better than”; believing not everyone should have equal rights and such attitude can only lead to suffering and hatred.  Rumi’s message was one of comprehension and compassion towards others without losing one self.

4) Meister Eckhart: “Wisdom can be found in everyday things.”
Eckhart was a German Dominican; theologist, philosopher, who lived between XIII and XIV centuries. His message really took off after his death. “Spirituality is not learned by secluding oneself from people or things. We need to learn to find wisdom in the solitude within each one of us. We need to learn to look deep within ourselves and within those who surround us; that way we may find God.”
Eckhart noticed that practice of spirituality in your every day life has the same; if not more; impact on your well being and that of your self search than the person who secludes from the world.  Nowadays we would call his teaching “mindfulness,” which should be practiced in all we do.

Among Eckhart’s teachings was the idea of how little those who surround you matter, if you choose to do good others cannot have a negative influence on your self development and soul.

5) Buddha: “Practice the dissolution of your ego.”
Buddha was among other spiritual teachers who spread the knowledge on how the false ego is the only obstacle which exists between illumination and the discovery of our true self …“Happy are those who have conquered their ego, those who have achieved peace. Happy are those who have discovered the truth.”–of course many who are not familiar with all of Buddha’s teachings, believe he was encouraging the destruction of all ego, when in reality, he was referring to the false self…the false ego.

Before Buddha, many yogis used different methods for auto exploration and the dissolution of the false ego, such as meditation.

The false ego is the fake “I” which finds itself in all of our actions. It is fake knowledge of who we are. It forces us to refuse to accept the natural course of things. It forces us not to accept and learn from pain and failures; instead of seeing them as lessons, we see them as catastrophic events from which we cannot recover.  It stops us from understanding how everything that happens was meant to happen for our own betterment; instead we resent and blame others for changes in our lives, in doing so we hinder our growth. The false ego separates us from our core, it is our greatest critic and punisher; it alienates us from self and from all that surrounds us.

6) Chogyam Trungpa: “You are your own best friend.”
Chogyam was a Buddhist Tibetan Teacher. Chogyam took all his teachings and shared them with the world, by doing so he changed the course of many societal structures and beliefs. He taught how we need to have the conviction to become our own best friend…“No one knows more about you than you do.”
We have the power to become our own best friend or our worst enemy.

Reality is that the majority of us have become our worst enemy, we punish ourselves for our mistakes and like to show more love and generosity to everyone else except ourselves.
Day by day we go by trash talking ourselves rather than building ourselves up.
We seem to think if we help others, people will praise us and that makes us good…WRONG!  Love starts with self and charity starts in your own home.

We need to learn to let go of guilt and embrace ourselves. Don’t let others put you down; the best way to do this is by not putting yourself down. Accepting who you are at the moment and loving yourself unconditionally is the key to self betterment.

Lastly one of my favorites:

7) Alan Watts: “Recognize that you are an extension of the universe.”
The philosopher Alan Watts was renowned for his like to use analogies when teaching. One of his greatest analogies was given when trying to explain his belief on what is our place in this universe and our true nature: “Is as if you had a full bottle of ink and threw it against the wall, all the ink scatters. The middle of where it landed is the most dense, but as it runs it spreads, the drops become light and thin, creating complex patterns, each more complex. In the same way at the beginning there was a big bang, which spread. We are the small complex patterns. Many millions of years ago, you were a big bang, and now you are a complex human being but you see yourself as separated from it all  yet YOU ARE EVERYTHING! You are the big bang, the origin of the universe, expressing itself in whoever you are, however you are”.

It is one of my favorite quotes as it emphasizes our uniqueness and how there is not set pattern to be accepted by God/the universe because we are all expressions of it.

God/the Universe expresses in me differently than in you and just because I don’t think, feel, dress, act, express myself like you, does not mean anyone different than me is better. In other words, Watts was trying to help us understand life finds itself simultaneously in each one of the beings of this universe. We are all an extension and a mirror reflection of such universe.

“You are one of the functions of all the universe is creating and doing, in the same way as one wave is a manifestation all the Ocean does.”

Thanks to the occidental culture which focuses on consumerism and economic productivity, the majority of people waste their time focusing on the future to the point of anxiety and punishing themselves for mistakes of the past. Focusing ourselves on only the material and the superficial, we live feeling as if there was no time to stop and admire the wonders of our world and universe. We miss the beauty of simple things and of nature. Make an effort to change this and you will notice how little by little by little your perspective changes and how you will feel full of peace, happiness within yourself and with the universe in all its extensions.

All the above teachings are about self love and the transcending of the false ego. Conquering the false ego is no easy task, but if you work at it everyday, focusing on YOU, your likes, your dislikes, you will get there.

Facing the truth head on no matter how uncomfortable it is. There are no perfect people in this world, anyone who thinks they have nothing to work on is one soul who has a lot to work on.


By Sofia Falcone

I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges, victories, hopes and learnings, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves!

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