Sep 102004

“There are two dominant models of existence that shape the interaction and destiny of the human race. These models of existence are:
— The Evolution/Saviorship model
— The Transformation/Mastership model”

“In the case of the transformation/mastership model of existence, its principle tenets are that the entity is limitless, deathless, and sovereign. All information flows from Source Intelligence to the entity, and, it is therefore the responsibility of the entity to become self-enlightened and self-liberated by attuning itself to Source Intelligence and “detuning” itself from the Hierarchy.” (Wingmakers)

Since I was “knee high to a grasshopper,” I was very aware that to succeed in life you need to compete every step of the way. I had my primary and secondary education in Sierra Leone. It was drummed into us that you need to get a good education. At eleven, I sat the Common Entrance Examination which determines the type of secondary school you can attend. This system was part of the post-colonial British legacy. I was First in my school so I could attend any of the top schools. My mother’s alma mater was my first and only choice, but my mother’s opinion was her alma mater’s standard had dropped. My mother’s choice was a Methodist school for girls.

The competition continued. In the first year of secondary school, form one, we were placed in various streams according to our examination results. I was in the A stream with all the brainy girls who had got top grades at their Common Entrance Exams. I found I wasn’t so brainy after all; I met other girls who were even more intelligent. I was relegated to top four or five in the class. Every month we took tests and were presented with report cards. If you achieved a certain percentage you were given a badge with a star. These badges came in four different colours, where each colour represents one’s House. Mine was Green. Not only were we competing as classmates, we were competing to maintain standards for our particular House. My House was notorious for having intelligent girls who were not very good at sports.

As A-streamers, we were reminded how privileged we were. We were future lawyers, doctors, politicians, teachers, academics and company directors. We didn’t have much choice in the subjects we studied. In form four, I got to select my specialty subjects – a choice between the arts or science. At the time, I found history and geography very dull; I had to opt for chemistry and physics, which I had zero interest in. I would discover years later that I am a combination of both disciplines – a social scientist.

There was always the end of year examinations to look forward to which determined whether you were promoted to the next class or, God forbid, you were promoted but moved to a B or C stream; even worse, you failed and had to repeat the class. Our school had a policy: “two strikes and you’re out,” i.e. you were only allowed to repeat a class twice and then you were asked to leave. There was much anxiety at this time of year; and much to lose or gain. There was the occasional pupil in the B or C stream who had performed so well during her exams, she was promoted to the A-stream; which meant someone was relegated to the B stream. Ouch! I remained in the A-stream throughout my secondary education.

There was another type of competition between different secondary schools to prove who was the best at sports and which school provided the best education. In form five, when we sat our West African O’levels (ordinary levels) Exams, we were very much aware that success was both personal and for the good of the school. The better pupils performed, the better standing the school had in attracting “higher”calibre students, rich kids, more money…and so the cycle of competition continued.

The most important benefit I received from the education system is that to have whatever you want it takes self-effort. I don’t believe in competition, however. I think competition derives from fear of not having enough to go round, thus, the many compete for the few. Competition is also based on the belief that we are not created equal. We are all the same; I am as infinite as the next person.

Does competition help one achieve excellence? I have heard sports people talk about how the competitive spirit helps push them to reach personal excellence. For me, excellence is a personal journey where I am always pushing myself to be more. As there are no limits, every moment is another opportunity for greater self-awareness. I don’t have to compete with anyone, nor am I competing against myself. I have a desire to be all that I am, even if it means appearing deranged to “normal” people.

One thing I find bizarre is the belief people on the “spiritual path” have that someone who is “awake” can lift others to higher levels of awareness. If that were true, humanity would have long abandoned competitions, wars and other pastimes. Humanity should be living on cloud nine by now. Why hasn’t this happened? Because self-transformation means doing the work yourself. You can read people’s realisations and feel as if the other is speaking volumes, you resonate with the truth etc… and yet the teaching does nothing for you. It is rather a case of “in through one ear and out the other.” It takes practise to undo all those lovely habits we’re accustomed to. It takes discipline to experience the world in a completely different way. To stay awake takes single-minded focus. As Rudyard Kipling puts it:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
….If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

(From If, by Rudyard Kipling)

If people expect rewards based on their own effort alone, why do they expect things to be different when it comes to the “spiritual path.” While I agree that it is our nature to be love, wisdom, freedom and abundance, don’t expect to experience nirvana just because you have read someone’s experience of it, and that her achievement is your achievement. While it is true other people’s realisations help along the way, to trust in your Real Self which opens the way to all joy and love and peace etc, you have to do the work of surrendering yourself, baby. Even those who experience the universe as a student/teacher paradigm still have to take the first step of realising they need help.

Life, for me, is not about competition. I do, however, appreciate that life is what you make it. If you commit to living a life of excellence, being the best that you know how to be,

“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!”

I am Excellence,

  2 Responses to “Competition versus Excellence”

  1. Dear Sir,

    I’m truly sorry to barge in on you like this, but I am at the end of my tether and would greatly appreciate the benefits of your insights.

    I am a 26-year old Nigerian chap who has been unable to secure a job four years since leaving colege here in Nigeria. Hard as I try, I never seem to make it past the interview panel of several organisations I’ve applied to. In my desperation, I’ve resorted to writing my applications on coloured paper and even attaching a passport photograph.

    Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m perhaps not doing a good enough job of ‘selling’ my potential to these potential employers. However beyond knowing this, I am at a loss as to how to actually go about ‘selling’ my potential.

    Sir given your vast expertise and experience in these matters I wish to from the depth of my heart appeal to you for tips – the missing link in my past failed attempts -you think I can employ to bring about a positive change in my situation. I do not ask for bread; only the tool and techniques of baking mine.

    Please can you help sir?

    Yours sincerely,

    Jide Olugbon.

  2. Dear Jide,

    I’m sorry to hear about your experiences.

    Just a few ideas you might find useful.

    Have you got a particular job in mind that you’ve dreamed of, a job that makes you feel as if you’re expressing your highest joy?

    If you don’t, imagine you have. Visualise yourself with a job you love. See yourself waking up every day eager to go to work because you love your job so much. See yourself at your desk loving what you do. Visualise yourself getting on well with your colleagues and your boss. Imagine you love your job so much you would do it without getting paid. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t get paid, of course. :-)

    It is important for you to continue feeling joy no matter what. To help you be in that state of joy, always do what you love. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It could be going for walks, having a laugh with friends, or listening to music – whatever makes you feel joy.

    Trust in your God-Self to sort out the details. I believe you already have a perfect job right now.

    All the very best Jide.

    Love always,