You can easily divide your life into two parts; one, where you did what you were expected to or told to do—whether as a child, student, or employee—and another, where you were inspired to do something on your own. This inspiration created a dynamic reaction, which resulted in something that you did. Sometimes doing what you never thought you could or were capable of doing. How did that happen, you ask yourself later in life, unbelievingly.
Many of us have experienced this, and many have wanted to understand and harness this chemistry. So, what is this power and how does inspiration work? Can you command inspiration to come to you on whim? Will you run out of inspiration? Or, should you be running after it, looking for it? These are some very crucial questions to consider for anyone who has ever been inspired and knows its potential.
Finding inspiration can be daunting. Life can easily become a pattern, or a series of daily habits and to-do lists of many responsibilities; how can we just drop everything to find inspiration? Or, does inspiration find you, you ask. And then, suddenly, you get lost—or rather found—in the moment: You read a line of beautiful poetry; see an old couple holding hands, or cook the most delicious meal or have a breakthrough at work.
Suddenly, and without warning, it inspires you. Later, you remember these moments for years because these moments are gifts that give you eternal happiness. Our mental and emotional habits keep us chained, but when we experience moments which reveal to us the true spaciousness of our minds, they have the power to transform our lives.
A woman I met once told me that she’d gone to look at the sunset on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, but she wasn’t sure if she would be able to see anything because it was a very cloudy day. As she was standing, looking out over a valley in the English countryside, about to turn back for home, the smallest crack appeared in the clouds and the sun rays streamed through. She hadn’t expected anything, but walked home with a feeling of potential—such a generous gift from the sun.
When we feel inspired, we look beyond and also into the mundane and notice what is really important in life, we understand the meaning of life, every day. When inspired we find it so much easier to concentrate, to be in the flow and get things done—we walk with lightness in our step, we notice the detail, we are happy and that makes others feel the happiness too.
We feel lucky. Inspiration feeds our inner wisdom and even feeds our body; we are inspired by the food we savour, by human touch, words, even by a walk in the woods. Somehow, inspiration helps us know what we want to do; and then it’s up to us to set our minds to go ahead and do it.
Many people think, we Buddhists are only about thinking and never implying, but really it’s more that we need to think so that we are then able to do. In other words, if we lack intention, motivation or determination, then we will soon struggle with the ‘doing’ part of the equation. It’s like waking up one morning and immediately trying to go on a diet—you might be surprised or disappointed in yourself when you give up within days or even hours.
If you have expected your body to make an instant change without working on your mind first, you were more than likely going to be in for a disappointment. Building appreciation helps you notice what inspires you and it encourages you to grab that inspiration and turn it into action. So you are no longer following your dreams, always one step behind; instead, you are being them, from moment to moment, day to day. You get back to the heart of yourself and what you do.
Inspiration also creates ripples around you. Like a pebble in a pond, your inspiration impacts others around you. When you are inspired, you will likely want to share your inspiration, your joy, with others. The happier you feel, the more generous you become. You reach past your fears of what may or may not happen in your life and open yourself up to the possibilities that your inspiration offers you. You become its student and disciple. Pursue inspiration like you would pursue meditation. They are often one and the same thing.
The author is the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas