Sam & Claire´s story
In the midst of our young life, with two little children, my wife Claire became ill. Medical experts offered no hope because they had no treatment: only a prognosis of death, within three to six months. We were desperate, searching for a solution. We tried everything; including a lot of alternative therapies, meditation, prayers … until one day we met our mentor, Leo.
What I learned from Leo helped me help Claire and myself. In fact, it helped me transform my life, and we lived together in joy and good health for 17 more years instead of a few months! I attribute all that to what we learned and practiced. I attribute the joy, health and success that I live today to the continued practice of that wisdom and continuing the learning.
I made a commitment to Claire and to Leo that I would share this wisdom with others, so that others may open their hearts and their minds to the possibility of Joy as our essence. This story is part of the realization of that commitment and a gift from my heart to yours.
Leo’s wisdom helps increase consciousness. And consciousness has the power to make you happy and realize whatever dream you have. The theory is quite simple: the same causes create the same effects. What is in your life now is the consequence of who you are. If you want to improve your life, then you cannot stay the same and expect a different outcome.
With the right attitude, we learn from what works, and even more from what does not work. We learn very little from making things the right way. We learn more from our mistakes and even more from the difficult events in our life. Disease, separation, and loss can be – if used properly – the greatest teachers we need. It is an endless journey, and Leo’s wisdom can help you enjoy your life even more.
I had more than my share of those events. Claire was given a few months to live; my business had been on the verge of bankruptcy; the teenage crisis of my daughter; the loss of my unique supplier and 97% of my turnover, and a very difficult and false accusation about my honesty. I needed all these events in a very short period of time to reach inner peace, as I was a tough nut to crack.
For many years Leo gave me experiences to make, advices to follow. He took me gently because my Ego was so big; it needed a careful teacher. My Ego is still big but with less power over me.
I was born in Egypt in a Jewish family. Like all of my clan, I had all the answers; I was always right. I am so grateful life put Leo on my Path. The saying ‘When the student is ready, the teacher shows up’ proved to be true for me.
I had many questions for him. Among the many wonderful insights he helped me with, there is one I want to share with you. I asked him what advice he had for my wife’s health, which was my main problem at that time. He shot back:
“The same I would give to you. You, like most adults, have lost your Joy.”
I couldn’t argue because I thought this was pretty insightful, hard to accept but rather obvious. He seemed to have a great point there, but I could not prevent myself from asking him:
“Your life is duty,” he said.
“Yes, indeed. I know I shouldn’t approach life as a duty but I cannot help it. Worse, I read philosophy and I get the Truth, and I don’t succeed to act on it. When I do, I get satisfaction, not Joy. Why is it that I don’t get Joy?” I asked Leo, and without waiting for his answer I added: “I am a good husband, a good father, a good boss; I do my best for everyone. I love and I am loved but my Joy is so scarce. Why is that?”
Leo helped us to transform this most dramatic event into a major life-transforming journey
Your Psyche has two channels
“I will tell you why you don’t get Joy. Most of the time, you use the wrong channel of your ‘psyche’ to process the information coming from your senses. Your psyche has two channels: one goes directly to You – to who you are — this consciousness that you are experiencing. I call it your Real Self or if you prefer, your True Self. Your whole body vibrates, you have a warm sensation, your heart expands and you feel Joy.
The other channel goes through your fears and your expectations. Your heart shrinks and you prepare for ‘fight or flight.’ It allowed the cognitive construction of a false ‘you’ -the little i- that took place while you were being brought up. I like to summarize it by this thought we all had: ‘One day they will realize how great I am!’. We call this construction the Constructed Personality – the small I or ego – as opposed to your True Self – the big I.”
“And this last part is often at the driving wheel. It makes some people fish for praise and appreciation, others accumulate material goods, academic recognition, or spiritual achievements: we are all trying to be the best according to what our ‘ideal’ of being a good person is.”
“So? Is there something wrong about being a good person?”
He concluded this conversation strongly:
“You can get a substantial amount of satisfaction through this quest, but at the cost of a major energy depletion and, as we shall see later, at the cost of losing your Joy. And Joy is the only advice for anybody’s health.”
He paused and continued emphatically:
“Joy is to be pursued all your life. Diseases, depression, burn out, etc. come to your life to stop the cycle of No-Joy. So Joy is the advice you asked me for your wife.”
I was impressed how Leo had gone around and come around to his point. How everything he said was relevant. I am not a physician, but I deeply sensed his affirmation. It resonated in me. Joy was the key for my wife to get better, and for me ‘to succeed my life.’ Which was more important to me that succeeding in life. Because what would be the meaning of a life in which we accomplished a lot, but bereft of Joy? Isn’t Joy the definition of succeeding our life?
Joy vs. Satisfaction
For many years I did my best efforts to move towards happiness and Joy. But like love, Joy cannot be commanded. I had — without noticing it — given up on Joy and accepted Satisfaction as a substitute. As Leo explained to me several times, Joy and Satisfaction are not the same. Personally, my life was well, I liked it, but Joy I seldom felt.
So as soon as I could, I asked Leo:
“How can one get Joy?”
His answer was a big surprise.
He asked, “What if you were already there? What if, like some oriental philosopher would say, you are Joy and Happiness?”
“To be frank, if I were I would have noticed!” I answered, somewhat sarcastically.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Positive” I said, and launched into an explanation:
“My life is pleasant and comfortable, with many people I love and that love me. If I have a lot of satisfaction in my life, I have also to admit that the moments of Joy are scarce. I have had more moments of Joy when my children were young, and even now when some beautiful music catches my heart. But most of the time I am in duty or acting upon my values.”
He let me think a little bit then he said:
“I am going to say something you will not like”
I had confidence in him — it was not our first conversation, after all. He always managed to open up my horizons. I was ready for a new learning but my ego was terrified.
Leo growled: “You accepted your life to be like it is by default. It is not that you decided either that you care about Joy or you don’t.”
“That’s correct. So?”
“The consequence of processing the information received by your senses through the constructed part of our psyche, is that you lose Joy.”
“How and why is that?”
“Because you are so busy being somebody good, that you have no space left for Joy.”
If I hadn’t had confidence that he was helping me, I would have argued. What was wrong about being somebody good? But before I had a chance to say anything he continued:
“Like all human beings, your essence is Joy; your essence is Love. There is nothing to do to experience them because you are Joy and Love.”
“So why do I experience it so little?” I asked.
“As I will show you, most of the times you are doing acts that make you avoid experiencing it, that make you running away from it.”
“I don’t believe you” I thought but didn’t dare to say so because my experience was that he always got to the point. He continued:
“If you doubt that Joy is your essence, look at two or three-years-old kids. They are naturally in Joy. They have nothing to do to be in Joy. They can play with a few stones or some pieces of wood. They don’t need any sophisticated game to be happy. Look at them; they have so much energy that they cannot walk, they need to run! Then, like all human beings, they grow up and they lose it.”
He paused, and said:
“I will help you find the road back to your Joy, for you and your wife, and you will help others to do so.”
“Yes I commit. Thank you Leo”, and I carved this commitment inside my heart.
But only 30 years later, coming back from India and reading Sri Ramana Maharshi, I understood what Leo was teaching us: going back to our True Self, coming back to our Essence : LOVE and JOY.