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Personal Transformation Experience

I Feel, Thus I Am

Three Learnings in Three Days

‘I think thus I am’: With this, René Descartes established the foundation of being. The importance delegated to viewing the world through this imperative has been a major building block of my upbringing and up until now, has served me well; or has it? 


Assisi, one of these special places: When he stayed with the Franciscaners during his journey through Europe, Vijay Eswaran, founder of the QI Group, seems to have found a turning point in his life; similar to what I encountered while staying there in June. Over the following few paragraphs, I would like to share a few learnings derived from these three days that have had a massively positive impact on my life. 


It’s not what I do, it’s what I think: From a very young age, we are being told that our deeds are the measurement of our character. While this is true, this doctrine completely ignores the fact that all action is solidly rooted in thought. Staying in Assisi, I have come to realise the extent of the barrage of feeling and random thoughts that travel through my mind every second and I was able to realise the effect this thinking has, not only on me, but also on the outside world. Imagine for a day, if all your thoughts were to become reality, what would happen to the world, would it be that you would build the next Nirvana or would it mean hell for some of your colleagues, revenge to your neighbours and torture for your enemies? What I realised is that most of my thoughts are not very positive and in addition extremely un-ordered. So, without orderly thoughts, how can we live orderly lives? While this can be the starting point for a lengthy philosophical discussion, I just want to leave you with a challenge: try to ban negative thinking from your thoughts for a day. If you, at some point fail, start over again. 


Life is an individual effort, all of us need to face our own challenges I have been a world-class swimmer and also excelled in other areas; I was used to comparing myself with others. This comparison with external factors is extremely limiting and difficult to abide by. Staying in Assisi, I was able to experience all the different ways of how all of us there, travel to the same destination; everyone at one’s own pace and in one’s own way. It was incredible to see how others go about it and it was simply amazing to realise that that is exactly how it should be. 


Our system of evaluating evidence is limited and flawed when it comes to spirituality. Finally this may have been one of the most abstract, however, not a less helpful realisation. Spirituality, enlightenment, god, paradise; all these things are experiential and although I was always focused on finding evidence, I needed to realise that there is none. Perhaps, it is a bit like this strange energy that when you touch it you die; but at the same time it powers your train, mobile phone and lighting. Of course, electricity! But thinking about it, it is the effects of electricity that we can see, not the energy itself. Similarly, spirituality can only be experienced, however the results can be seen in the physical world, for example, behaviour changes, individuals developing an enormous character and aura and so on. When staying in Assisi, one can feel that it is a special place. Staying a weekend with the youth group, I can say for sure it is a special place. But to describe the actual emotional experience would, on one hand degrade the experience itself and on the other, words are insufficient to describe it fully. Finally, every one of us experiences these things differently, so the best thing may be to just come along and find out for oneself!


Thomas Seidling

Region 3, Austria

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