My True North | Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished” – Nelson Mandela
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Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished” – Nelson Mandela

One morning, a few years back, I switched on my I-phone to be greeted by the message “restore to factory settings”. What? NO!!!! I frantically switched the phone on and off a few times, tried re-booting a few times and took the battery out a couple of times. The message remained the same. The phone would not work unless I restored the factory settings. I plugged my I-phone into the computer to resore the factory settings, and was informed that all unsaved data, such as photo’s, contacts and messages, would be lost. I panicked, disconnected the phone from the computer and made an urgent appointment at the Apple Store. There, to my dismay, the message was confirmed: in order to get my phone to work I would have to restore the factory settings and, by doing this, I would run the risk that all information not saved would be lost. However, if I did not restore the factory settlings the phone would remain unusable . Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place! What to do???? Having very little choice, I decided to restore the factory settings and hope for the best. Deep breathe, slow release, button pushed and … great relief! Much to my delight, all the information that I wanted was saved, and the apps that I did not were deleted. My I-phone was beautifully, wonderfully working once more.

Of all the wonderous realisations that an understanding of the Three Principles has given me, this is my favourite: the simplicity and profound consequences of restoring my factory settings, of returning to original grace. What are the factory settings? How do we lose sight of them? And how do we restore them? The factory settings include a perfect state of mental health, well-being, wisdom and resilience, compassion, generosity of spirit, love and connection. What hides them? Nothing more than our own thinking, our own thoughts taken to be true. What is the button to restore them? Understanding the true nature of thought. Thinking is a constant process. We are the thinkers of our thoughts. Thought creates our perception of reality and stays for precisely the duration of time you think it. And when it passes, it is replaced by another thought that in turn creates our perception of reality for the duration of time that we’re in that thought.

In his book, “The Long Walk to Freedom” Nelson Mandela states: “I always knew that deep down in every human heart there was mercy and compassion. No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate , and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love , for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest of times in prison … I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for one second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” Nelson Mandela knew. He knew that man’s mental health, his well-being, his wisdom, his goodness … are all innate. They are flames that can be hidden but never extinguished. What hides them? Our personal thinking taken seriously, taken to be true. As soon as we see our personal thinking for what it is ( taught, learned, habitual, contaminated,) we are more inclined to let them pass and we allow peace of mind and clarity to shine through, we restore our factory settings and return to original grace. A return to “factory settings” is always available to us and takes no particular effort to attain because it is in fact a return to our natural way of being.

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