I'm taking a one-post break in my series on Earl Dorr's river of gold to include another pathway (mini-chapter) from my self-help book titled, "Positive Pathways: a Simple Guide to a Better Life." I trust you'll gain something positive by reading this post.
Taking the High Road
“Always take the high road even if you’re the only one on it.”
Although I take no joy in saying it, I believe much of the world today has abandoned the moral high ground for the sake of expediency and immediate self-gratification. All too often the end justifies the means and people rationalize their behavior proclaiming, “If I don’t grab my slice of the pie right now someone else will.” Rank materialism, banality, and the moral cowardice implicit in agenda-driven social controls like political correctness dominate most developed societies these days and the overall effect is soul numbing, to say the least.
However, the greater the distance you travel the path to self-realization, spiritual growth, and inner development the more you liberate your heart and mind from those tribal chains that keep your inner self in bondage. It’s always easy to take the low road, which is why most people do it. Taking the moral high ground requires courage and commitment, and the ability to say no to the myriad pressures placed upon you to conform to the will of others, including society as a whole. You won’t find peace, contentment, or happiness in a frantic, life-long search for wealth, power, or fame and there are plenty of individual examples to back that claim up. The inner peace you seek can only be found within you. Nowhere else.
There’s an old strategy axiom that holds that the force occupying the higher terrain has a tactical advantage over its foe. This has been proven out hundreds (if not thousands) of times in military history so there has to be something to it. No, you’re not here to fight on some yet-to-be-named battlefield in a war created by others for just or perhaps unjust means. But the principle of taking the high ground and the road that winds its way around it is golden from a self-improvement standpoint. You see, you can’t be a moral coward and expect to achieve greatness as a person nor can you anticipate the bright light of the universe to shine down upon you in all its glory. No, take the low road and your heart, mind, and soul will remain in various shades of darkness your entire life no matter how much you control or accumulate in the material world.
In this regard I’ve long remembered a line from the classic song “Stairway to Heaven” by the famous English rock band Led Zeppelin. “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on.” As a young man back in the 1970s that line caught and held my attention, although I wasn’t exactly sure why. I guess its interpretation is open-ended to a great degree, but I personally view it in terms of having to make a decision to pursue either the low road or the high road in this life and, no matter which road you currently trod, you have the freedom of choice to change that path. Led Zeppelin was right. The choice IS yours.
Day-to-day life presents you with many tests. Some of those are circumstantial and others are thrust upon you by others, even in the most mundane of circumstances. These tests or challenges can be hardly noticeable at times while others are literally “in your face.” They can happen at home, at work, or simply driving around town. Some people will do everything in their power to make your day while others will do their very best to ruin it. The key here is how well you respond to those situations and tests and whether you take the high or low road when dealing with them.
Let me give you an example. You’re driving home in the slow lane after another long day at work. Perhaps you’re feeling exhausted, burnt out, and maybe even a little cranky. Another driver comes racing up behind you and rides your bumper so closely his face looms in your rear-view mirror. He continues to tailgate you even though the line of cars ahead of you leaves no room for you to maneuver. Eventually when traffic does open up the aggressive driver on your tail recklessly swings his vehicle into the fast lane clearing your bumper my mere inches and races by throwing an obscene gesture your way and mouthing curse words you can’t even hear. That other driver just took the low road. Now what are you going to do? Follow suit, heart pounding with anger as you race to catch up and give him a dose of his own medicine?
We’ve all been in potential road rage situations like this and I suspect at one time or another we’ve all taken the low-road response. Our anger escalates when someone cuts in front of us in a long line we’ve been patiently standing in at a movie theater, concert, sports venue, or even the humble grocery store. Small, seemingly innocuous tests and challenges like this are part and parcel of everyday life because so many people seem driven by selfishness and self-aggrandizement these days. But that’s them, not you. Escalating a road rage incident or something someone says or does in the grocery store is the quickest path to the low moral road you can possibly take and can only end badly for everyone involved, yourself included. Once uncontrolled anger or rage is released from its cage, anything can happen. At the very least, your sense of inner peace and calm will be shattered. In a worst-case scenario you may place your physical safety at risk. Nothing like that is worth risking life and limb for.
The examples I’ve given are not earth-shattering events but they still require a certain level of moral courage. It’s not easy to back down from confrontations with strangers, let alone relatives or loved ones. But if you seek to remain on the higher path to greater consciousness, self-awareness, and spiritual development you’re going to have to set your ego aside or yank it back to its rightful position. Once again, your ego and your will are the main drivers that crop up anytime they feel threatened or slighted. That’s why being able to control your ego and your willfulness is so important to accessing and maintaining that higher moral road. This is as true in the smallest of tests or circumstances as it is in major moral conflicts about personal freedom, injustices to yourself or others, or refusing to relinquish your own moral, spiritual, or philosophic beliefs. In all respects, at all times and in all ways, follow your moral compass and take the high ground. That’s the true path to real courage and inner peace.
So the next time you’re tested or challenged remain on that higher ground. Refuse to lower yourself to the standards or expectations of others. Remain true to yourself in all things. Not only will you gain ascendancy over those negative situations and tests, but you may very well exert a calming influence on those who can’t seem to remove themselves from low-road approaches to life and dealing with others. In most instances these sorts of people aren’t angry and frustrated at you, but at the futility, disharmony, and disappointment they find in their own lives. Do your best to understand their behavioral drivers and keep close tabs on your own inner demons as well. Stay balanced and in harmony with the universe. Remain cool and calm and try to turn the other cheek when and where you can. I know it’s not easy but it’s the only way you’ll ever be able to stay on the higher road to consciousness and alignment with the universal source. Trust me on that. Most importantly, trust yourself and the moral compass within you.
You’ll never be steered wrong that way.
“I always take the high road.”
“I keep my heart and mind free.”
“I remain on the path to higher consciousness.”