A Passion for the Possible: A Guide to Realizing Your True Potential

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-02-19
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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Discover your own extraordinary gifts and live every day with passion Now you can explore and expand your own unique possibilities on all four levels of your being--the physical, psychological, symbolic, and spiritual--using the practical and creative tools in this remarkable guide. In her most deeply transforming book to date, Houston leads you on a profound journey of self-discovery and shows how you can courageously commit to experiencing your real potential.

Table of Contents

An Invitation to Discover More of What You Arep. 1
A Journey to the Four Levels of Your Beingp. 18
Savoring the Sensory Worldp. 39
Visiting the Psychological Realmp. 81
The Mythic Journeyp. 122
The Spiritual Questp. 158
Cultivating Everyday Passionp. 189
Acknowledgmentsp. 192
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.


A Passion for the Possible
A Guide to Realizing Your True Potential

Chapter One

An Invitation to Discover More of What You Are

You! I know you.

You may not think I know you, but I do.

You are a seeker. You are a fledgling ready to take flight. You sense intuitively that you have potential that you've barely begun to tap. You are a bud ready to blossom.

A chrysalis waiting to become a butterfly.

I've met you in the supermarket when you were corralling two energetic kids and pushing a cart full of groceries. I saw you glance longingly at the book rack. Your face had the determined look of someone who knows there's more to life than frozen food and runny noses.

Thirty-five thousand feet up in the air, I've been your seatmate. You told me that your twelve-year-old son pitched a two-hitter last night while you were in a hotel room a thousand miles away. You said that your dream was to quit your sales job and open a woodworking shop in the town where you live.

I've listened as you've told me about discovering that you're a writer. Though all you've got to show for your efforts is a notebook full of unpublished stories and a shoe box full of rejection letters, you're hard at work on the outline of a novel.

I've encountered you as a young college graduate with the world open before you. You are filled with ideals, skills, and dreams but have not yet figured out how to harness that energy--not to mention pay for that student loan.

You came to tell me how it is to be a cancer survivor. You are alive and glad to be so. Your longtime partner couldn't stand hospitals and left you in the middle of chemotherapy, but you have joined a survivors' group and are in training to counsel other cancer patients.

You were the fifty-something woman at my seminar whose youngest daughter had just gone off to college. Though your husband says that "personal fulfillment" is a bunch of baloney, you've signed up for an evening course in world religions and several seminars in addition to mine. "It's my turn now," you told me. "I've come here to find out what's next."

Whoever you are, whatever your life may be, I know you as I know myself. We both face the same challenges. We are living in a time of the most far-reaching and rapid change in human history.

Most of us will log five to fifty times the experience of our ancestors of two hundred years ago. Many of them received at birth the pattern for their lives, growing up to be farmer, weaver, soldier, priest, or mother bearing and burying one baby after another. Rich or poor, peasant or aristocrat, their lives followed the same formulas as had their parents' for ages past. There were advantages, of course. They knew who they were, what to tell their children, the comfort of sameness, and a lack of options.

And then it all changed. It has been said that as many events have happened from 1945 to today as have happened in the two thousand years before 1945. The ancient curse "may you live in interesting times" has come true for us. This is it--the most interesting time in human history. Nothing comparable has happened to humankind since the industrial revolution or, further back, since we gave up the wanderings of the hunt and settled down to agriculture and civilization.

Our everyday lives reflect this quantum leap in the complexity and pace of contemporary experience. We are caught uncertain, unprepared, and unprotected in the face of too much happening too often. We are the people of the parenthesis, at the end of one era and not quite at the beginning of the new one. Some of us withdraw from the onslaught. We become workaholics. Or we find numbing solace in addictions or in hours spent staring at the television. Too many of us agree to lives of serial monotony and the progressive dimming of our passion for life.

But many, a significant number, are trying to understand the momentous opportunity that is ours. The future is seeded in the time of parenthesis. We are among the most important people who have ever lived. We will determine whether humankind will grow or die, evolve or perish.

How do we prepare ourselves for such times? How do we prepare ourselves to take responsibility for the personal as well as the planetary process? We have not been trained for this task, and the usual formulas and stopgap solutions will not help us. The density and intimacy of the global village, the staggering consequences of our new knowledge and technologies make us directors of a world that, up to now, has mostly directed us.

Today our extremely limited human consciousness has powers over life and death that once mythically were accorded to the "gods." Extremely limited consciousness with the press of a button can launch a nuclear holocaust. Extremely limited consciousness intervenes in the genetic code, interferes with the complex patterns in the sea and on the land, and pours wastes into the Earth's protective ozone layers, wiping out countless plant and animal species. Extremely limited consciousness has killed 100 million humans in the last sixty years.

Extremely limited consciousness gives us governments that are too large for the small problems of life and too small in spirit for the large problems. Extremely limited consciousness cannot deal with ethnic and tribal violence and the rage of the dispossessed, the addiction to consumption and soul-killing substances, the very survival of life on this planet. Instead, extremely limited consciousness offers us a patchwork quilt of solutions that create ten new problems for each quick fix.

What qualities of mind, body, and spirit can overcome these limitations? How do we go about preparing ourselves to become stewards of the planet, filled with enough passion for the possible to partner one another through the greatest social transformation ever known?

A Passion for the Possible
A Guide to Realizing Your True Potential
. Copyright © by Jean Houston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from A Passion for the Possible: A Guide to Realizing Your True Potential by Jean Houston
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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