25 Transformative Essays on the psychology and philosophy of personal excellence on the guitar and everything else!
"Throughout my life, I have sought to know and understand the truth of the human world. I have always found the most worthy and noble things in life are these: the purity found in the natural world, the beauty found in the human heart, and the Divine truth revealed in music.
Discovering my truth, accepting my truth, and living my truth has been the sole occupation of my entire life. It has required me to reach deeper within myself than I would have had the courage to do for any less worthy a goal. I give this to you with the most fervent desire it will help you do the same......Jamie Andreas
1. Freedom is the only Law that Genius knows”
2. Isaac Newton: Stand on the Shoulders of Giants
3. Always Strive For Perfection, Never Expect To Reach It
4. A Crack In Everything......Leonard Cohen
5. Confucius: How to use other people for your own growth
6. "There is no path to success; you make one by taking the first step"
7. Climb Every Mountain
8. All You Need Is Love
9. The Meaning of Life
10. In the Beginning was the Word
11. Attention Is The Arm of Love
13. Mystery, Beauty, and Grace
14. The 3 Great Sins
16. Beliefs--And YOU!
18. One Marshmallow or Two
19. The Way to DO is to BE
20. Happy is a How, not a What, Where, Why, When or Who
21. "It Ain't Braggin' If You Can Do It!”
22. The Alchemy of Art
23. Song of the Unsung Philosopher
24. The Basics of Business
25. The Peace I Feel As I Take This Breath Is How I Measure My Success
The path of development as a guitarist, a musician, and an artist, has never appeared to me to be any different than the path of growth in awareness and understanding as a person. I have always taught myself in this way, and I have always taught others in this way as well. When my methods for learning the guitar became known to guitarists around the world through the publication of my first book "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar" and the GuitarPrinciples website, it was soon evident that the intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of my work were striking a deep chord of resonance within my readers. In fact, it became clear that students were finding these aspects of my work as meaningful and useful to them as the guitar instruction itself, and in many cases, more so.
So, I began to conceive of a book that would embody all of these aspects of personal and artistic development, and present what I consider to be the most powerful ideas needed by anyone who wishes to do the work necessary to actualize their full potential as a person and an artist, no matter whether their field of endeavor is guitar, or anything else. The same inner challenges are faced by anyone dedicated to excellence. There is a source of great strength available to us if the principles examined in these essays are understood, and made a part of one's life.
There are certain attitudes which we must practice in order to successfully meet the numerous and considerable challenges that confront us on our quest for personal and artistic growth. We will be tested every step of the way, and only through wisdom and strength of character can we pass each test, in order to be worthy of receiving the next.
"Attitude" means our orientation to everything around us. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually speaking, it includes our position and our posture within that position. Our attitude is governed by our "point of view", and paradoxically, our attitude determines our point of view and our ability to see clearly from that point of view. The very words "point of view" speak to the fact that we are all in a particular place mentally and emotionally, as well as physically speaking, and the particular place we are in does more to determine what we "see" when we look around than does anything else.
Interestingly, the particular place we are in is most often an unconscious inheritance. Our background, our belief systems, all the things that make us see the world the way we do, are rarely the fruit of our own thought and our own careful examination and acceptance of those beliefs. Rather, what most of us are as people is an unexamined legacy of the intimates of our lives and the culture in which we have been reared.
We are fortunate if who we have become as people is even partially expressing our deepest and most real selves. There are some points of view from which more can be seen than from others. There are some points of view which allow us to see more clearly what is around us. And finally, it is possible to practice leaving our point of view and adopting the point of view of another- to see, feel and understand this thing we call "the world", and this thing we call "life" from the point of view lived by another. By doing this, we achieve the greatest power of understanding of others and ourselves.
From that expanded and mutable point of view, we will find the resources to successfully meet the challenges of the artistic path. It has been my intention to provide access to these points of view in this group of essays. In these essays, I am treating some of the most fundamental concepts of the human world. I am offering a criticism of the conventional ways in which these concepts are conceived and defined. In fact, you will find that definitions abound in this book, and for a very good reason. I believe real communication concerning the most important matters of life (and much of the mundane as well) is almost non-existent in common discourse.
When two people are trying to communicate about something, they are almost never aware of the fact that, although they think they are talking about the same thing, they are not. Often, they do not attempt to discover whether or not their definitions of the things they are talking about agree, and the reason they do not trouble themselves with this is because, in truth, they don't care! They are merely interested in expressing their own personal viewpoints, and all pretense of giving ear to the other person's words is simply the price they pay for the chance to have their say!
When I think of the usual conversation between people, I imagine two people facing each other, but with their heads turned to the side, or perhaps, looking upward, but certainly not looking at each other. They are talking into the air, each of them waiting for the sound to stop coming from the other person so they can begin talking! It is quite obvious to any careful observer that this is what is taking place; we merely have to notice how often the words of one person are not really responded to, but instead, are left hanging in the air, while the other person hangs out their point for display as well. Each having their say, the two people will depart with their respective points still hanging in the air, side by side, without either of those points having been taken to heart and mind by the other. They never even suspect the possibility that they were not even talking about the same thing even though they were using the same words!
Throughout my life, it has been my greatest desire to avoid this. Certainly, as a teacher, "getting your point across" is what it is all about. That is why my golden rule of teaching and all communication has always been: Don't be concerned with what you are saying, be concerned with what the other person is hearing. They are very often not the same thing! One of the most effective ways to avoid this lack of communication, and the dangerous confusion and waste of time which it brings, is to observe the first principle of philosophy, which is, as St. Thomas Aquinas has reminded us, to "define our terms".
I am offering many definitions within this book, definitions of words we all commonly use, but rarely think about. I believe I have proved the integrity of these definitions. I have certainly used them and tested them in my own life and thinking, and have found them to withstand the rigorous test of providing insight in the midst of everyday life experience. Words such as "love", "peace", "humility", "freedom", "anger", "hate", and many more, can provide a guiding light of clarity through the confusion that clouds so many people's thinking. In any case, that is my hope.
It is interesting to look at the word "definition", and define it! "Definite" is the opposite of "infinite". "Infinite" means without limits, and "definite" means with fixed limits. So, when we "define" a concept by giving a meaning to the word which is a symbol for that concept, we are taking an intangible and formless reality of the mind and giving it limits so that it can be grasped, examined, and known. That is the function of the symbols we call words; they allow us to "grasp" reality, they are "handles" for the mind to hold on to. I believe many of the handles we use, through lack of clear definition are not, in fact, attached to the reality they symbolize, at least in the mind of the person using them.
Furthermore, it is critical to understand that until clear thinking delivers clear definitions, clear, decisive and fruitful action cannot occur. In our time, the search for a definition of "life" so that sound social policies on the issue of abortion can be made, dramatically illustrates this principle. I am providing these handles that will enable you to grasp many of the formless realities toward which the human mind naturally leans. My method of exploration is one of synthesis; I examine the manifold threads of human existence, studying many areas of knowledge, and weaving them into a whole picture which is ever present in my mind. As new threads are discovered and examined, I weave them into the total picture, so that a grander conception is always emerging, becoming increasingly complete and clear. In modern terminology, I collect the dots, and then I connect the dots. It is that picture which I am presenting.
The purpose of this book will have been achieved if it stimulates thought and exploration for the reader. I believe my strength is recognizing what is most important, and organizing it in the most useful way, so that it can be of use to me and to others. It will be my greatest satisfaction if the present work benefits the reader to the same degree it has done so for the writer. I will even hope that it will give inspiration to those who have lacked a clear way to make contact with the deeper realities of life; realities that we all suspect and hope exist, but may have stopped reaching for at some point in our journey through this infinite mystery we call Life.
Throughout my life, I have sought to know and understand the truth of the human world. I have always found the most worthy and noble things in life are these: the purity found in the natural world, the beauty found in the human heart, and the Divine truth revealed in music. Discovering my truth, accepting my truth, and living my truth has been the sole occupation of my entire life. It has required me to reach deeper within myself than I would have had the courage to do for any less worthy a goal. I give this to you with the most fervent desire it will help you do the same.