Wisdom Magazine's Monthly Webzine Skip Navigation Links
Wisdom Magazine is also one of the country's largest free holistic publications with 150,000 copies printed bi-monthly in three regional print editions. Wisdom is dedicated to opening people's hearts and minds to the philosophies, products and services of the new millennium.
Home  About  This Month's Articles  Calendar of Events  Classified Listings  Holistic Resource Directory
 Educational Programs  Sacred Journeys & Retreats  Yoga Teacher Training
 Article Archives  What's New in Books, CD's & DVD's  Wisdom Marketplace
 Where to Find Wisdom Near You  Subscriptions  Web Partner Links
 Advertising Information  Contact Us
Denali Institute of Northern Traditions
Miriam Smith
Margaret Ann Lembo
Maureen St Germain
Spirit Hollow
Laura Norman Reflexology
Vibes Up
Light Healing
Sacred Journeys Retreats
Alternatives For Healing

A Talk With Mark Lesser, Author of "Know Yourself, Forget Yourself"

by Marc Lesser


What was your motivation for writing about practical ways to work with paradox?

Nearly everything about being a human involves paradox. One of my favorite quotes is, “If it’s not paradoxical, it’s not true!” I just did a Google search to see who said this, and what came up was…..Marc Lesser. How paradoxical! A paradox is something that appears impossible, but may, in fact be true. Isn’t everything in our lives like this? Especially things that really matter – like time, consciousness, birth and death, war and peace, how we came to be doing whatever we do, our most important relationships – anything we can say about these topics appears impossible.

I began to notice that a few core paradoxes were also core practices in my work and in my life outside of work. I noticed that more and more these paradoxes were becoming fundamental and important truths. I began writing initially to better understand how to work with these paradoxes – in the work that I do with my clients, who are leaders in business and non-profits companies, as well as in my own life.

The expression “know yourself, forget yourself” sounds familiar. Where does it come from?

Yes, thank you Dogen, the 13th century founder of Zen Buddhism in Japan, who famously said – To study the Way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self; to forget the self is to awaken with everything and everyone. I first encountered this statement when I was in my 20’s and have been working with it ever since.

Is there a way to practice – self-knowing and self-forgetting?

Yes, self-awareness practice and mindfulness practice are practices for both self-knowing and self-forgetting. Think of an athlete – a superior tennis play works diligently on all aspects of self-knowing – details of hitting a ball under multiple conditions, state of mind, strategy. Then when playing a match, these awareness practices have all been embodied and the focus is completely on being present, aware, with little or no focus on self. Self-awareness practices and mindfulness practice are ways to train ourselves to be more present, alive, skillful in our work lives and in all our relationships.

How can I fight for change and accept what is at the same time?

This is a core truth, a core paradox of being human – accepting ourselves completely and making an effort to become more aware and to help others. If we just accept what is, we can be lulled into indifference. If we are always fighting for change, without accepting ourselves and our situation, we can become both nearsighted and stressed. We can make an effort to practice and build our ability in both acceptance and in making changes, skillfully.

Help! My life is stressful. Too much to do and not enough time. What guidance can you offer to get off of this treadmill?

Many people are stressed and in search of an elusive sense of balance. Know Yourself, Forget Yourself presents another approach that addresses underlying issues and is more effective than conventional approaches. Instead of looking outside yourself for balance, find ways to take care of yourself, to take care of your mind. I notice that people looking for balance often try to add more things to an already overflowing life. Our cups are already too full. We don’t need to add more; instead we can change the way we see, broaden our perspective and not get caught by mistaken ideas about balance. And not be narrowed, and stressed, by mistaken beliefs about ourselves.

How can I be confident and question everything at the same time?

Confidence comes from knowing yourself – from accurate emotional awareness, deep listening to yourself and to others. The more confident you become the more you can engage with important questions. The practice of “not knowing” can be a powerful way to develop more confidence.

Marc Lesser, the CEO and cofounder of the nonprofit Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, lived at the San Francisco Zen Center for ten years and is the former director of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. He lives in Mill Valley, CA. His website is www.marclesser.net.

Know Yourself, Forget Yourself:

Five Truths to Transform Your Work, Relationships and Everyday Life

By Marc Lesser

February 20, 2013 · Personal Growth/Psychology · Trade paperback/ebook

$14.95 · 288 pages · ISBN: 978-1-57731-081-8


Add Comment

Article Archives  This Month's Articles  Click Here for more articles by Marc Lesser
Joshua Bloom
Empowered Light Expo
Light Healing
Miriam Smith
Kiros Book
Alternatives For Healing
Spirit Hollow
Laura Norman Reflexology
Denali Institute
Margaret Ann Lembo

Call Us Toll Free: 888-577-8091 or  |  Email Us  | About Us  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map  | © 2016 Wisdom Magazine