As I was walking to breakfast at a retreat center, a woman sitting beside the path asked me, "Do you know what time it is?"
Not having a watch, I took my best guess and answered, "I think it’s about 9:15."
"I don’t think so," she came back quickly. "It was 9:15 about half an hour ago."
"Then why did you ask me?" I had to ask her.
"I guess I was just looking for confirmation," she replied.
Likewise, while you may be wrestling with many questions about your life, there is a place inside you that already knows your answers. You may seek guidance or direction, but you will accept only that which resonates with what you already know. "A consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is."
A friend of mine advertised himself as a psychic counselor. He was not particularly psychic, just clever. He would ask each client to pick several cards from a Tarot deck, and then he would lay them out in a formation. Then he asked his client what they thought the symbols meant to them.
"Ah!" a client would exclaim. "This affirms that I should move ahead with my business plan."
"That’s right," the counselor would agree.
His next client surveyed her cards and declared, "I knew it – this relationship is killing me and I need to get out!"
"It is so," the "psychic" agreed.
If a client did not get an obvious answer to a burning question, the counselor would ask them, "What would you like to do here?" When they stated their preferred route, he would say, "I believe that would be a wise course of action." This fellow had a high success rate with many repeat customers, and his clients were happy to pay him for his services. In my opinion he was not a charlatan. He was simply helping people tune in to their own guidance, and eliciting their confidence to follow it.
Alan Watts wrote a classic book entitled, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Really Are. There could deservedly be a sequel entitled, The Book on the Taboo against Admitting What You Already Know. After working with many seminar and coaching clients, I observe that most people are a lot smarter than they realize. We have been hypnotized to believe that we are dumb, while we are actually brilliant. Every answer you seek is available to you either inside you or through someone you can access without a lot of struggle. Seeking is not the problem; our angst issues from the notion that the answer is beyond our reach. Yet if you can conceive of the question, you are just around the corner from bearing the answer.
One of my favorite cartoons portrays a classic truth seeker clawing his way to the top of a Himalayan mountain, where he approaches a bearded guru sitting in deep meditation. At the guru’s feet the aspirant reads a simple sign etched with the words, "The Hokey Pokey." The stunned seeker, eyebrows raised, asks, "That’s what it’s all about?"
The cartoon’s quip unveils a profound truth: While you may think you have to perform esoteric rituals, pass rigorous tests, undergo arduous initiations, pay off lifetimes of karma and run the gauntlet of sacrificial struggles, the good you seek may be right where you stand.
Just because other people don’t know, it doesn’t mean you don’t. When George Danzig was a math student at U.C.L.A., he arrived at a class late one day. Noticing several math problems on the blackboard, George copied them into his notebook, and did them for homework. Late the night after he handed in his work, he heard someone banging on his dormitory door. Befuddled, Danzig answered, to find his professor aglow.
"How did you do it?" the teacher shouted.
"Do what?" Danzig replied.
"You have solved two classically unsolvable mathematic equations!" the professor announced.
"You mean those two on the board?" the student answered incredulously. "I thought they were homework!"
Danzig, you see, did not know the problems were impossible. He was too smart to know how dumb he might be.
Genius is not a gift reserved for select few. It is given to all, yet few act upon it. Ten-year-old art prodigy Alexandra Nashita, hailed as "the next Picasso," noted, "The difference between me and others is that I am willing to do what I am good at." When you and I have the same confidence in who we already are, we can and will rock our world as Nashita has rocked hers.
Live as if you already know. Imagine that you have access to all the answers you seek, and trust your inner wisdom. Then you won’t have to ask anyone for the time, for all your time will be your own.