A teacher wrote in my autograph book during my final year in school, "Know yourself and live accordingly" before our parting of ways.
It may not even be close to the teachings of the Great Teachers, but it did set me to thinking about my priorities in life. That, of course was after I'd managed to learn which end's up. That statement became one of the beams of guiding lights that helped show the way through my life. If I had been a bad boy then, perhaps the teacher wouldn't have written that in my book. I'd have just as well followed that advice accordingly and became a notorious bad guy. But by being a good guy, I made myself invisible. Not that I have any wish to be noticeable, but being a bad guy sometimes has its uses. People think twice about talking too loudly in your face or threatening you. But then I noticed trouble seems to follow these people wherever they went. Alas, being invisible is one of the common traits of good guys. We want to get far by treading softly.
I'd just made up my mind that I wanted my life to be as simple as possible. I had no wish to make it complicated by the trappings and other sophistications. Maybe I was lucky I got my wish. I noticed how some people seem to get their lives complicated or screwed up by the spouses or the friends that they chose. No matter how rich they got owing to their choices, I had no wish to trade places with them. Maybe sometimes I envy their freedom to spend it however they want, but I don't seem to see any happiness in that. You must think I'm strange but I don't even think I'm missing anything. No, I just get scared handling too much money. Robbers are everywhere out there. They can smell money a mile away.
Success is an over-subscribed and over-hyped word. Too many preachers of that philosophy simply link it to getting rich. Big cars, huge homes, trophy wives, endless dining and exotic holidays. They must find it better to preach and easier to sell than just health, happiness, goodness and virtue, a nice home-cooked dinner care-of a loving wife and friendly kids. Somehow, these things that don't make you rich don't sell. By insinuation they link them to losers. Mediocrity.
I'm not sure if the teachings of the Buddha in original Pali language were translated into English precisely enough, but they always seem to confuse me. I wish they'd just made it plainly and simply how one should live a life and behave towards everyone else in the world, period. I decided long ago I'd just live by the guidance of my conscience. That's how things can be made simple, I believe. Of course you can also hear a lot of politicians say the same things about their conscience being clean after a hue and cry about their alleged corrupt practices. These folks have a way of using the same good things and polluting them without batting an eye or a trace of guilt.
I think the teacher knew that her advice to me would be taken very well and followed religiously. Funny though, the last words said by anybody before our parting of ways always seem to have that special impact on me, because I tend to recall those words clearly whenever I face any situation that reminds me of that moment.