Have you ever heard of the word Brule? No, I am not talking about the delicious dessert, Crème brûlée, but I am referring to B-rules, what Vishen Lakhiani, founder and CEO of Mindvalley likes to call Bullshit Rules. Watch this 10 minute priceless video in which Vishen Lakhiani explains what Brules are and how to break free from them.
In a nutsell, Brules are all the false or rigid systems of beliefs which dictate what is right or wrong, true or false, such as what are correct attitudes, behaviours and decisions towards work, education, spirituality, love, religion, etc. Those patterns of thought and behaviours have been indoctrinated in our system during childhood, mainly from authority figures, but also from our cultural and societal context, and those Brules govern the way we operate daily in our lives but mostly, they determine the most important decisions we are taking in our lives.
Letting the Brules govern us to the point that we are not living our lives according to the purpose and true desire of our souls, but according to the dictation of our society, can ruin the peace and happiness we are seeking in this life.
Here are 10 Brules that life taught me from first hand in the 34 years I have been living on this planet:
Brule No.1: “You have to become somebody”
We’ve heard this a lot as we were growing up and behind this message as children we understood that, “it is not ok to be me, I am not good enough.” The other day, I was passing by a private high school and I read on the wall the school’s motto: “A Place Where You Can Become Somebody.” I got shivers as it felt fundamentally wrong.
The truth is that the spirit that lives in our human body is stemming from a source that is already perfect and divine, and already knows the truth. By conditioning and indoctrination to the physical world around us, we forget who we really are. Don Miguel Ruiz in his book “The Voice of Knowledge” explains this beautifully:
Humans are born in Truth, but we grow up believing in lies. One of the biggest lies in the story of humanity, is the lie of imperfection. It’s just a story but we believe it, and we use the story to judge and punish ourselves. But with awareness, we can change the story and return to the truth.
Brule No.2: “You have to acquire a trendy college degree to ensure a good job”
If you feel that spending your youth at university is a waste of time and the only reason you are going to college is because your parents told you that you have to go, then perhaps college education is not for you.
But, if you have a burning desire to explore in depth a specific topic or major that excites your soul, by all means, you should go to university and study. Don’t pick a major that does not really interest you just because it is in fashion and this is what everybody else does. The voice of lies will tell you: “study a major that is translatable in a job and will ensure you a job position.” Though the subject you want to major in may sound like the most absurd one in the world, follow your heart and go for it, you will not regret it.
For example, in 1999 back in Greece, it was fashionable to get Marketing and Business Administration degrees. I chose to start with a BA in Psychology and then to continue with a BA and an MA in Buddhist Philosophy and Tibetan language at Kathmandu University in Nepal. Throughout the span of those 12 years of study, I got a lot of criticism that my path was too unconventional and untranslatable to a tangible profession, and that I would never be able to have a good job and make money to fill my fridge with food. Had I not followed that risky and unusual path, perhaps I would not have landed in this amazing job position at Mindvalley, a company recognised as One of the Best Workplaces in the World. Though it is not necessary at all to even have a college degree to join Mindvalley, in my case, my unique life experience and knowledge is what equipped me to be a good candidate. But had I followed the college trend of that time, most likely I would have been one among the thousand unemployed people in the current Greek society of 2015.
Brule No.3: Believing in a school teacher that tells you, “You will never learn how to ____”
Have you ever been in a position where the teacher has put you on the spot, and was rumbling about how bad you were in a subject, and basically humiliating you and destroying your self-esteem in front of your classmates? That is another lie that occasionally some teachers may have led us to believe. I was in that spot 20 years ago when my English teacher told me that I would never learn proper English in front of the entire class. 20 years later, though my English is not perfect, I have successfully completed three college degrees, I have written three academic theses in English and currently work in a job in which the operating language is English.
Brule No.4: Allowing yourself to believe that “it is too late to learn how to ____”
If you have given up learning something because a teacher might have discouraged you and now you feel that “An old dog, cannot learn new tricks” then perhaps that is another lie in which you are trapped in. During my studies in Nepal I met a lot of people that were in their 40’s or 50’s and embarked on the journey to learn how to write and speak the Tibetan language, despite the fact that they were not in the typical college age. All you need is a thirst for learning and a youthful enthusiastic heart! Haven’t you watched the famous old lady dancing salsa at Britain’s Got Talent Show that completely shutters this Brule?
Brule No.5: “Youth and beauty end when you turn 30”
Are you or were you dreading the day you would turn 30, thinking that it would be the end of your youth and beauty? Do you feel grumpy and sad on your birthday, because you have added years and wrinkles on your face? How about seeing these as added value and wisdom? The 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, an accomplished teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, has said that “being sad about getting older is like hating one’s birth.”
Be happy on your birthday because you have been given the gift of a long life, which is not a benefit granted to everyone. Birthdays are an opportunity to celebrate life and be grateful for the life experiences we have had the opportunity to go through, which have mature us and made us better people. That’s why the 30’s are not the end of youth and beauty, but the beginning of an internal blossoming of beauty, especially when you have done enough soul searching, which tends to bear the fruits of more confidence, talents and virtues, more wisdom, more kindness, and why not, more sexiness!
Brule No. 6: “Generosity means you have to give money”
Do you associate generosity with philanthropy? Do you connect generosity with putting your hand in your pocket and giving money or material wealth to others? Well, that is a form of generosity but a very limited one. Generosity extends beyond material assets, because the most precious things in the world are immaterial. You can be generous with your feelings, like being kind to that person you don’t like, forgive someone who hurt you, or simply when you hold the door open for the person who is coming behind you.
Nevertheless, nowadays one of the greatest ways we can be generous to others is by gifting them our time. In this millennium generation, in which our days are filled with long hours of work, and our lives congested with technological devices that often isolate us from each other, it is a precious generous gift to make ourselves available to others by providing our time to them, and simply providing an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. You don’t need even to say anything or give any advice, but be generous by simply being present and available to someone who needs it.
Brule No. 7: “You have to experience motherhood or fatherhood, in order to be a complete woman or a man”
This is an all-pervasive Brule among all cultures on this planet. Indeed mother nature has created our bodies with mechanisms to reproduce, but this does not mean that it is the ultimate happiness to experience for everybody. Each one of us is made for a different destiny to fulfill. Take for example Nobel Prize winner Mother Theresa. Perhaps she would not have been able to complete her noble work for humanity in the same way if she had her own children. It is not random that her title ‘Mother’ suits her well, as she preferred to be the Mother of all suffering children.
Besides, this planet is overpopulated, and does not need more numbers of human births, but more numbers of noble hearts that are willing to contribute in eliminating human suffering. In this era when the planet is suffering from dozens of environmental crisis stemming from overpopulation, isn’t it a bit egoistic in one sense to want to bear your own children? If you want to do real good to humanity, adopt a destitute child, or become the mother or father of all beings, like Mother Theresa.
Your decision to not bear children, does not make you less of a woman or a man.
Brule No. 8: “The big fish eat the small ones, and if you don’t harden up, you will not survive in this life, because life is a struggle”
This is what my father used to say when I was a little girl. But I don’t blame him, because these were the Brules that society taught him when he was a child. His intention was not to scare me, but to prepare me and warn me about the nature of life so I could succeed. But for me, it had the opposite effect. If this is what you say to an 8 year old shy and introverted girl, what she understands is that her sensitive and kind nature are defects programming her for failure. It caused me to have low self-esteem throughout adolescence, and only through studying psychology and Buddhism have I learned that vulnerability is a source of bravery and creativity and that sensitivity and kindness linked to wisdom and enlightenment.
So if you are this type of person with a big and sensitive heart, don’t you ever doubt that there is something wrong with you, rather, embrace your vulnerability and don’t be scared to show your talents, because that’s the way you can contribute to this world and make it a better place!
Life does not need to be a struggle and we don’t need to compete with others to earn our happiness.
Brule No. 9: “Measuring our success by comparing ourselves to others”
Have you ever felt jealous of a classmate for their better grades or the praise they received from the teacher? Do you feel threatened when a colleague is performing better than you? Or have you ever caught yourself feeling superior next to someone else’s failure? I have felt this and I bet you have too, admit it. To a certain extent it is a natural reflex reaction, especially if you have been indoctrinated with “the big fish eat the small ones,” but if you think deeper, soon you would realize that evaluating your success on how poor or good others perform not only is not a valid measurement of our success, but also is a harmful mentality for yourself and to the others. Comparing your performance or progress to others leads to all sorts of negative emotions like jealousy, envy, hatred, spite, and pride, which are poisonous emotions that harm, only harm you, the vessel that holds them.
If you want to be successful, help others to be successful in their goals. If we understand that we are skilled and talented, each one of us in a very different but original way, that each one of us has a different path to walk through, different lessons to learn and predestined missions to fulfil in this life, then we come to realize that there is enough abundance and success for everyone! Life will show us the way to the right path, to create the right things, and live the experiences we should live, at the right time. So be patient, and when a colleague gets promoted to that position that you really wanted, sincerely let yourself rejoice and feel their joy, and feel grateful to the universe, for it has in store for you something even better!
Brule No. 10: “Love and relationships require loss of personal power and freedom”
Has a lover ever told you, “I find you attractive but I cannot do committed relationships,” or perhaps you have said that to someone? First of all committed relationships are not signed as a contract, but they grow slowly and naturally, as two people allow themselves to get to know each other. The idea that the other person will threaten our creativity, productivity, and our success is another lie we have convinced our selves to believe in, stemming from our insecurities caused by traumatizing relationships in the past, with people who practiced those Brules.
Let me tell you a secret though: whether you like it or not, we are already in a relationship as humans beings, and all we need to do is find the perfect balance of the two aspects of love and freedom. If there is ‘too much love’ it can be suffocating and then it feels like imprisonment. But on the other hand, if there is reckless freedom, then there is no love. By avoiding to connect deeply and soulfully with another person, you close your heart, and don’t allow the love to come in, which can nourish and actually empower your soul in order to be the best version of yourself.
The same principle can apply not only in romantic relationships, but also to a friendship and a relationship with a spiritual teacher. According to Dr. Carlos De Leon, who further explains it in his book “Dare to Be Free, a Guide for the Spiritual Seeker,” when your spiritual teacher chains you with her or his love, then, does not really let you spread your wings. On the other hand, if they let you completely free and unattended, then you are not really supported with love.
In the start of a new relationship, you perceive it as an attack to your life, in your effort to maintain your defences. Indeed it is an attack, not to your true self but to what you don’t really need. A personal relationship is the deepest expression of love. Every time you connect with someone, you loose an old part of yourself and you gain a new one. You have the ability to overcome your fears and your illusions, the obstacles in communication, your defences and become consummately one with the other.
I challenge you my friends, dare to be free from the Brules, and live a life in peace, wisdom and bliss!