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Chapter 14. The Big Picture > The Larger Conceptual Framework

The Larger Conceptual Framework

We began this book with a tale of tasting mangoes—our simple premise being that it is one thing to know about mangoes intellectually and quite another to truly taste a mango, savor the experience, and be fully alive in that moment. After all, when we cut through all of the words and rationalizations about stress and its mastery, what we are after is a sense that we are really alive and living an existence that is meaningful to us. Some might refer to this as a spiritual quest. This chapter, too, is full of words and ideas and questions, but if you do not taste them, chew on them, and mull them over then you will have missed the point. Words, while they are wonderful tools, always reduce experience. They aren't the experiences themselves. Joseph Campbell once related in a lecture that the best things in life cannot be told because they are beyond thought. The next best things are misunderstood, and the next best are those things about which we talk. Consider the words written here as only fingers pointing at the moon. As the ancient expression goes, “Focus too much on the fingers and you miss the heavenly splendor above.” If you get caught up in the rightness or wrongness of these words you will fall into the trap of being right that we discussed in Chapter 6, and miss the opportunity to choose happiness. Paraphrasing the words of the mystic Rumi, out there beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field. We would like to meet you there. We'll bring the mangoes.

This chapter is about coming to terms with what we believe are fundamental human concerns that we all must confront if we are to truly become masters of stress and ultimately masters of living our lives joyfully and effectively. Something that is fundamentally stressful to humans is the experience of having an inadequate map for a territory that they are exploring. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, life lived well will present you with the unexpected, and you will be scrambling to find directions and maps to guide you. We would like to humbly offer some landmarks that we hope will help you find your way, or at least help you learn to enjoy being lost. Remember, maps are never the territory that they represent. You do not eat the menu when you go to a restaurant. We hope these maps are useful. Some may even be true!


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