Earl R. Smith II. PhD

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It has been well said that humility is no substitute for a good personality. Yet the emphasis in many discussions about Zen tends to focus on the former and rather neglects the latter. I’m sure there are good reasons why this occurs but, quite frankly, I find it confusing.

You see, if you probe a bit such humility often tends to be skin deep and an acquired affectation. And such self-mutilation then tends to parade as personality. This may be because, particularly among beginners, there is the sense that Zen, and Buddhism in general, is a focused assault on the idea of the self. This line of thinking tends to envisioning a “self” which is dominated by ego and grasping. It’s a fascinating stretching that I find most frequently among the mentally moribund.

In this strange dance of humanity, it’s easy to lose track of the importance of being yourself. The idea that the self can be “murdered” intentionally and, therefore, cease to exist, is a ridiculous idea. Fundamental to the definition of a sentient being is the entire idea of self-awareness. So, to state the obvious, a self that is murdered no longer represents the presence of sentience. As an old guru was fond of observing, “I poked my finger into my eye which disturbed my mind.” And after all of that, what is left?

At the foundations of this conundrum lie the inadequacies of language. Personality, as it emerges spontaneously, is essentially prelinguistic. Now, I’m not talking about the detritus of psychology or sociology here, but the spontaneous experience of the defining characteristics of another human being. And, in that sense, the experience of the personality of another is as well prelinguistic. Neither the possession of nor the experience benefits from extended linguistic analysis.

That being which meditates which we say has, or does not have, a personality which is engaging, open and inquisitive is only what we see at the surface. And that’s where the rub comes. The journey inward is towards the wellspring that is the resting place of what we might call “self”. The uniqueness that is being/time. Encrusted, in its outward appearance, as it is with the leavings of the living experience, it remains purely unique at its core.

Those who make the journey in anticipation of finding nothing will be disappointed. There is something there to be found and it is not nothing.

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD

I look back on the first three months of my work with Dr. Smith with wonder. My journal reflects a journey of self-discovery so vast that I hardly recognize the person who wrote the first entries. It's been a year now and I am happier now than I have ever been.

PJ, Mentoring Client

"It's the most amazing experience I have ever had. I needed to find a new path. A friend recommended Dr. Smith. What was most amazing was the wisdom and perception that he brought. New vistas have opened up and, as a result, a new chapter in my life. There's no way that I could put a value on what he has contributed to my life."

Mentoring Client, CEO and Serial Entrepreneur

"Chief - that's how Dr.Smith was introduced to me and, based on our work together, I have come to understand why - helped me focus on the possibilities that I had been missing in my life. He guided through developing a new vision for my life. My life is richer because of working with him."

Mentoring Client

"Earl is a wise mentor with lots of experience. He has a great way of explaining things and getting you to look at them from another perspective. Dr. Smith is a tough mentor, but, if you can learn just some of what he knows, your life will change forever."

Mentoring Client, Deloitte

“Dr. Smith is a very different kind of mentor. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy adviser, this is the wrong guy for you. But if you are dedicated to change and want to be challenged by a very experienced mentor Earl may be just what you are looking for.”

CEO of Croix Connect and Host of ABC Radio’s ‘Taking Care of Business’

“Dr. Smith's mentorship has been of great value and inspiration to my personal and professional development. I felt the need to take a new direction. He helped me sort out the possibilities and showed me ones that I never considered. Working with him has been a truly life-changing experience.”

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