I’m all set for a one-month break from computers, meetings and management (even monks can’t escape these things!). Taking full advantage of the festive season, we’ll travel the country sharing spiritual wisdom in the form of thousands of books; ancient writings which are ‘food for thought’ in a fast-paced world. Our approximate route: London – Norwich – Hull – Sheffield – Lincoln - Chesterfield- Stafford - Nottingham - Derby – Mansfield - Leicester - London (and a lot of smaller towns in between!). Last week I dropped off the books for our team in various locations. The sight of nearly four thousand books piled high to the ceiling was slightly bewildering! Would it be possible to stand in a bustling town-centre, stop people at random, and inspire the otherwise-engaged shoppers to seriously contemplate higher truths? Have we ambitiously over-ordered our stock? Will people really be interested? Where do we get the confidence to undertake such a task?
The modern self-development gurus teach us that confidence comes from within. You have to “believe in yourself”. If you are sure, others will be sure – your consciousness creates the reality. They tell us to be optimistic about our abilities, to pride ourselves in our strengths, and to have the conviction that anything is possible if we try hard enough. This ‘material confidence’ may work in a limited scope for a short time. Such confidence, however, which is rooted in self-assurance, will gradually deflate. We eventually realise that we’re not what we pumped ourselves up to be. In his prime, Muhammed Ali would proudly assert: “I am the greatest”. Later in life he realised his folly, declaring that he was in actuality the greatest fool for attempting to usurp the Supreme position.
Real confidence comes from humility. We realise our inherent limitations, but gain firm conviction from knowing that the all-powerful will of providence is on our side. With such transcendental back-up, anything is possible. One who is ‘quietly confident’, their surety grounded in humility and dependence, can achieve unimaginable things in this world. Pride, complacency and hopelessness are not found in their dictionary. Seeing themselves as merely instruments, their job is to just “get out of the way” and let the divine magic manifest. I’m trying to learn the art of being a ‘quietly confident’ ambassador of goodwill. By accessing the wisdom of Bhagavad-gita, people can flourish on all levels: physically, emotionally, socially and most importantly, spiritually. This is welfare work with a difference. I hope I’ll play a small part in connecting people to this spiritual powerhouse.