In 2014 Jim Carrey delivered a Commencement Speech to the Maharishi University of Management. I want to add my thoughts to this as I am feeling very very compassionate and emotional today. Filled with love.
Disclaimer (ish). I open my soul in my comments in this article. I recommend books and websites from my heart and experience. NOTHING on this page is affiliated nor will I profit from any links etc. It’s just simply my genuine and heartfelt experience and advice.
I also have a fear of imperfection that makes me procrastinate when I write. To overcome that fear I always leave a deliberate mistake or two. Can you spot them?
This talk has been reused and recycled many many times because of the profound nature of his realisation of self and the compassion he has for others.
Despite having seen this speech a couple of times before, I have been pondering it this week, amongst many other motivational speeches and quotes.
I wanted to share with you my personal similar thoughts and personal experiences too, which you will find me quoting within.
So I found a transcription of the speech on rev.com and include highlights of it here with my thoughts added. I hope you enjoy:
Speaker 1: (00:01)
Please welcome to speak to us the funniest man on earth. A performer of legendary comic genius, a children’s book author of profound depth, an individual of enormous compassion who is doing so much to make our world a better place. The great Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey : (00:26)
Thank you. What are you sitting down for? I was going to milk that for a while. You guys can stretch that out in post, right? Can make that longer in the edit. Thank you, Bevin. Thank you all. [foreign language 00:01:13].
Jim Carrey : (01:19)
I brought one of my paintings to show you today. I hope you guys are going to be able to see it okay. It’s not one of my bigger pieces. So you might want to move down front. Get a good look at it. Faculty, parents, friends, dignified guests, graduating class of 2014, and all the dead baseball players coming out of the corn to be with us today. After the harvest, there’s no place for them to hide. Fields are empty. There’s no cover there. I’m here to plant a seed today. A seed that will inspire you to move forward in life with enthusiastic hearts and a clear sense of wholeness. The question is will that seed have a chance to take root or will I be sued by Monsanto and forced to use their seed, which may not be totally Ayurvedic?
Jim Carrey : (02:51)
Excuse me if I seem a little bit low energy tonight, today, whatever this is, I slept with my head to the north last night. Oh man. Oh man. You know how that is, right kids? Yeah. Woke up right in the middle of Pitta, couldn’t get back to sleep until Vata rolled around. Crazy. But I didn’t freak out. I used that time to eat a large meal, connect with someone special on Tinder. Because life doesn’t happen to you. It happens for you. How do I know this? I don’t, but I’m making sound and that’s the important thing. That’s what I’m here to do.
I believe that “Life doesn’t happen to you. It happens for you” is a lesson we learn too late in life. That all the ups and downs are simply part of learning. That our learning never stops.
And when things are truly awful, when you have been traumatised, beaten down, given up on, ignored or left out (and every single one of us will experience these things in life to varying degree) you can still CHOOSE – no matter how hard that is, to speak-up, become brave, open your heart, retain hope and find help.
These are the things that will save you. These are the lessons for life that will make us grateful. Theres nothing greater than a lesson in true grattitude. Find happiness in the small pleasures and the routines of life.
Jim Carrey : (03:54)
Sometimes I think that’s the only thing that’s important really, is just letting each other know we’re here. Reminding each other that we’re part of a larger self. I used to think Jim Carrey is all that I was. Just a flickering light, a dancing shadow. The great nothing masquerading as something you can name, seeking shelter in caves and foxholes dug out hastily. An archer searching for his target in the mirror, wounded only by my own arrows. Begging to be enslaved, leading for my chains. Blinded by longing and tripping over paradise.
Jim Carrey : (04:37)
Can I get an amen? You didn’t think I could be serious, did you? I don’t think you understand who you’re dealing with. I have no limits. I cannot be contained because I’m the container. You can’t contain the container, man. You can’t contain the container. I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called a body from which to experience creation. And though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model, it was after all a loner and would have to be returned. Then I learned that everything outside the vehicle was part of me too, and now I drive a convertible. Top down, wind in my hair.
“I used to think Jim Carrey is all that I was…I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin”.
I was reading last night a blink (blinkist.com) about Zen Buhddism and the realisation that we have no head. Its a difficult concept to get you ‘head’ (pun intended) around. Essentially its the idea that you feel like you are inside a body, looking out into the world through two ‘windows’.
But in essence, when you truly ponder the concept that we cannot, and never will see our own head. It is an empty ‘void’. Yet it is crammed full of thoughts, worries, decisions etc etc. None of which are real, none of which are true (yes that’s right – everything in your head is bullshit, just concepts. All you really have is this moment. No past, no future, just the ‘now’).
When you look down at your body you can ‘see’ it all except your head. Reflections and photos are merely splotches of colour. A representation. Not the ‘real thing’. When you ponder that further still, the world you are viewing in this non-exsistent head becomes suddenly not ‘external’ but all you see, all you feel, all you ‘think’ you are is really all both inside your void, and outside.
Then you realise, there is no inside and outside at all. There just is. We are everything and everything is us. Nothing is disconnected. Nothing is seperate and nothing is really real. Therefore worrying is fruitless. Only action and decision right now counts.
Jim Carrey : (06:03)
I am elated and truly, truly, truly excited to be present and fully connected to you at this important moment in your journey. I hope you’re ready to open the roof and take it all in. Okay. Four more years then. They’re obviously not ready. Just needs some more [inaudible 00:06:26].
Jim Carrey : (06:27)
I want to thank the trustees, the administrators, the faculty of MUM for creating an institution worthy of Maharishi’s ideals of education. A place that teaches knowledge and experience, the knowledge and experience necessary to be productive in life, as well as enabling the students through transcendental meditation and ancient Vedic knowledge to slack off twice a day for an hour and a half. Don’t think you’re fooling me. But I guess it has some benefits. It does allow you to separate who you truly are. And what’s real from the stories that run through your head. You have given them the ability to walk behind the mind’s elaborate set decoration and to see that there’s a huge difference between a dog that is going to eat you in your mind and an actual dog that is going to eat you.
“There’s a huge difference between a dog that is going to eat you in your mind and an actual dog that is going to eat you”.
I relate to this so much. As a person recovering from C-PTSD I cant begin to tell you ngatively how out of control our minds can be when our WHOLE BEING, physiology, mind and soul, truly believes there is still danger even when none is present. This is caused by trauma. And it is EVERYWHERE in our modern, capitalist, narsacisstic societies.
People believe trauma is something big like a car accident or the love of a parent. And they would be right. But it is also ANYTHING you, personally, find traumatic. For sensitive souls it can be a supermarket argument on the run up to christmas, a near miss with a tired lorry driver on a motorway, a death of a pet…complex trauma is born from these ‘small things’ when they repeatedly happen.
For serious traumas and complex traumas I believe that a combination of Psychotherapy, Art Therapy, Play Therapy and Meditation practice (plus I practice the 12 steps for my addiction – caused by trauma and my spiritual growth – to learn compassion and forgiveness – they are amazing!) is vital amongst other things.
For the ‘smaller’ traumas of day-to-day humanity, meditation and the practice of love and compassion is really key to recovery and ongoing management of the negative, angry, irritating ‘monkey brain’.
Jim Carrey : (07:35)
That may sound like no big deal, but many never learned that distinction. And they spend a great deal of their lives living in fight or flight response. I’d like to acknowledge all of you wonderful parents. Way to go. What a fantastic job you’ve done. For your tireless dedication, your love, your support, most of all for the attention that you paid to your children. I have a saying, be aware the unloved because they will eventually hurt themselves or me. But when I look at this group here, I feel really safe. I do. I’m just going to say it. My room is not locked. My room is not locked. No doubt some of you will turn out to be crooks, but white collar stuff. You know, Wall Street, that type of thing. Crimes committed by people with self-esteem. Stuff parents can still be proud of in a weird way.
“I’d like to acknowledge all of you wonderful parents. Way to go. What a fantastic job you’ve done. For your tireless dedication, your love, your support, most of all for the attention that you paid to your children.”
I completely agree. Are you a parent. Be proud of what you have achieved. There is so much societal pressure on parents these days – especially the primary caregiver. But a mantra I keep telling myself the many many many times when being a parent feels too tough; All they need is your love and attention, all they need is to know it is always available. That you always care about them with all your heart and they always make you proud. That’s all they really need. Thats what they will ALWAYS remember when they look back. They wont remember the new toys you got them 40 years ago.
Jim Carrey : (08:51)
And to the graduating class of 2017… Minus three. You didn’t let me finish. Congratulations. Yes. Give yourself a round of applause please. You are the vanguard of knowledge and consciousness, a new wave in a vast ocean of possibilities. On the other side of that door, there’s a world starving for new ideas, new leadership. I’ve been out there for 30 years. She’s a wild cat. She’ll rub up against your leg and purr until you pick her up and start petting her. And then out of nowhere, she’ll swat you in the face. It can be rough out there, but that’s okay because there’s soft serve ice cream with sprinkles.
“It can be rough out there, but that’s okay because there’s soft serve ice cream with sprinkles.” The tough times can feel really tough.
But being grateful for everything you currently have and finding great joy and pleasure in the little things makes the tough times easier to bear.
EVERYTHING is transient. Buddhist meditate on and study impermanance. Your elated joy will pass, your wading through hell will pass. Nothing will stay. Everything changes. NOTHING IS PERMANENT good or bad. And, because the only moment you have is right now, this very moment is likely to have something to be grateful for.
Something seemingly insurmountable, like an ice cream with sprinkles (literally or metaphorically), can then become the only thing you need right now. And for that there is room to be very grateful indeed.
Jim Carrey : (10:02)
I guess that’s what I’m really trying to say here today. Sometimes it’s okay to eat your feelings. Now fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect. So we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it. Please. And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order. Party size.
“Now fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much…I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it”
Both these points have been HUGE learning curves for me. I had these realisations myself when I started to explore my spirituality (I was an avid atheist and now am something else) post-trauma and mid-addiction. I have been fascinated at how subtle fear really is yet it can have such a huge impact on our lives.
And, unless we really do have a fire in our house or a lion in our garden (or similar immediate and real threat) fear is nothing more that a physiologically learned response. A primevil intuition that served us well in the wild.
Fear is useful. It tells us there is a opportunity to weigh up risks and make a big decision. I would say that for me, the best decisions I have ever made where when I overcame my fear and went ahead with what I knew in my heart was right. Fear comes in disquise often so be alert for it, its sneaky. It looks like worry, procrastination, IBS, overwhelm, anxiety, phobia and much more.
What are your ‘red flags’ to fear and worry? Learn to recognise them, they can be an extraordinary tool to getting everything your heart desires. You CAN ask the universe for anything. But, it is not some cosmic cash machine. It has ‘rules’ and is not instant. If you have fear or doubt it just won’t work. If you forge courageously onward the universe will present you with a door to your heart’s desires. But you have to get up, walk over to the door, turn the handle and walk bravely through.
Oh yes and my advice when it comes to the Law of Attraction? Theres a lot of hype out there and much bull-crap. Download the original (free and open source) PDF Book ‘The Science of Getting Rich’ by Wallace Wattles. It is where the book and film ‘The Secret’ really came from. It was never intended for people to profit from in that way – cheeky!
Jim Carrey : (11:19)
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love”. Speaks for itself!
Jim Carrey : (11:45)
It’s not the only thing he taught me though. I watched the effect of my father’s love and humor and how it altered the world around me, and I thought, “That’s something to do. That’s something worth my time.” It wasn’t long before I started acting up. People would come over to the house and they’d be greeted by a seven year old, throwing himself down a large flight of stairs. They would say, “What happened?” And I would say, “I don’t know, let’s check the replay.” I’d go back to the top of the stairs and come back down in slow motion. It was a very strange household.
Jim Carrey : (12:54)
My father used to brag that I wasn’t a ham, I was the whole pig. And he treated my talent as if it was his second chance. When I was about 28, after a decade as a professional comedian, I realized one night in LA that the purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern, just like my dad. And when I realized this, I dubbed my new devotion the Church of Freedom From Concern, the Church of FFC. And I dedicated myself to that ministry. What’s yours? How will you serve the world? What did they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out.
“How will you serve the world? What did they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out”. Here is a great opportunity to listen for the fear reasponse.
So many people are unfulfilled by what they do because they were unable to calculate the risks and make a decision to find a way to do the thing they are talented at in a way that helps others. It doesnt mean immediately quitting your well-paid job (if you are lucky enough to have one) but instead to really really thing about what you can do and find a way to help yourself (put your own oxygen mask on FIRST) and others by doing it. Fear will try to get in the way here.
You may beleieve you do not have a talent (not true because you are an adult human), or you have too many interests (hint you may be a Polymath like me), or that you are not expert enough (no such thing as a true ‘expert’ it is too subjective) etc…
If you have fears that hold you back (or if you are not sure) here is a brilliant talk about defining your fears. It has helped me to overcome my worries and make better, well thought our decisions without fear getting in the way. A tool I hoghly recommend if you tend to ‘overthink’ like I do:
Jim Carrey : (13:47)
As someone who’s done what you’re about to go and do, I can tell you from experience the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Because everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart. My choosing to free people, my choosing to free people from concern got me to the top of a mountain. Look where I am, look what I get to do? Everywhere I go… I’m going to get emotional because when I tap into this, it really is extraordinary to me. I did something that made people present their best selves to me, wherever I go.
“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is”. Compassion, courage and kindness are key to every fulfilled person I know. This often goes hand in hand with ‘success’. If you are in business you are there to serve, do it well. If you are at work you are there to serve, do it well. If you are in a relationship, have freinds, have family, you are here to serve. When you commit your ego to a life of compassionate service to others and a commitment to making people feel better (and forgiving them when they wrong you) life becomes amazing. Be humble. Be love. As Gahndi (I believe) said “Be the person you wish to find”.
But wont I just get ‘walked over’? Its easy to see where you maye believe that practicing loving kindness and compassion will get you hurt in this day and age. To overcome this you must be clear on your boundries. What is acceptable? How would you wish others to treat you.
BUT most importantly – hoew are you treating yourself? Every time there is an opportunoty for love, respect and compassion you must both give it yourself as well as others. It is vital to your survival. Then your boundries will be not only clear but can be maintained in a loving way. You have to respect yourself and your human natire first. Accept your dark thoughts and ‘bad’ side. I have them too. So does eveybody else. Its your actions that count. Can you be love?
Jim Carrey : (14:50)
I am the top of the mountain, and I was. And the only one I hadn’t freed was myself, and that’s when my search for identity deepened. I wondered who I’d be without my fame. Who would I be if I said things that people didn’t want to hear, or if I defied their expectations of me? What if I showed up to the party without my Mardi Gras mask and refused to flash my breasts for a handful of beans? I’ll give you a moment to wipe that image out of your mind. You guys are so ahead of the game. You already know who you are.
Jim Carrey : (15:31)
And that peace, that peace that we’re after lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise. Even beyond effort itself. You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace you have to let the armor go. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.
“That peace that we’re after lies somewhere beyond personality”. Once you drop the ego and self-centered feeling and realise we are all one and eveything is connected you will get everything you need.
Life is, afterall, just a ride:
Jim Carrey : (16:08)
It’s not big enough. This painting is big for a reason. It’s called High Visibility. It’s about picking up the light and daring to be seen. Here’s the tricky part. Everyone is attracted to the light. The party host up at the top, who thinks unconsciousness is bliss and is always offering to drink from the bottles that empty you. Misery, below her, despises the light, can’t stand when you’re doing well, wishes you nothing but the worst. The Queen of Diamonds, under him, needs a King to build her house of cards. And the hollow one down bottom there will clean to your leg and say, “Please don’t leave me behind for I have abandoned myself.”
Jim Carrey : (17:30)
Even those who are closest to you and most in love with you, the people you love most in the world will find clarity confronting at times. This painting took me thousands of hours to complete. And when I was finished… Thank you, thousands of hours, yes. I’ll never get them back. I’ll never get them back. I worked on this for so long. I was weeks and weeks like a madman alone on a scaffolding. And when I was finished, one of my friends said this would be a cool black light painting. So I started over.
Jim Carrey : (18:30)
Welcome to Burning Man. Some pretty crazy characters up there, but better up there than in here. Painting is one of the ways… Thank you. Painting is one of the ways I free myself from concern. A way to stop the world through total mental, spiritual, and physical involvement. But even with that comes a feeling of divine dissatisfaction, because ultimately we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We are the light that shines through. All else is just smoke and mirrors, distracting but not truly compelling. I’ve often said that I wish people could realize all their dreams and wealth and fame so that they could see that it’s not where you’re going to find your sense of completion.
“We’re not the avatars we create”.
Who are you? Really? I bet you are not. Have a think about that.
Jim Carrey : (19:24)
Like many of you, I was concerned about going out into the world and doing something bigger than myself, until someone smarter than myself made me realize that there is nothing bigger than myself. My soul is not contained within the limits of my body. My body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul. One unified field. One unified field of nothing dancing for no particular reason, except maybe to comfort and entertain itself.
Jim Carrey : (20:11)
As that shift happens in you, you won’t be feeling the world, you’ll be felt by it. You’ll be embraced by it. Now I’m always at the beginning, I have a reset button and I ride that button constantly. Once that button is functioning in your life, there’s no story that the mind could create that will be as compelling. The imagination is always manufacturing scenarios, both good and bad. And the ego tries to keep you trapped in the multiplex of the mind. Our eyes are not viewers. They’re also projectors that are running a second story over the picture that we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script, and the working title is I’ll Never be Enough.
“I have a reset button and I ride that button constantly”.
I have one too, but really I see it as a pause button. I have many many ‘failures’. Its always OK to ‘start again’. Because you never really started and you will never really end. There is no you. Everything is ok.
The ‘you’ you percieve is good enough no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. Because you are everything and everything is you. Living is an experiment.
Have fun trying shit out. Play long with the stuff you love. Be ready to pause whenever you need. Everything will be there, you will be there, when its time to start again.
Jim Carrey : (21:06)
And you’re going to look at a person like me and say, “How could we ever hope to reach those kinds of heights, Jim?” How can we make a painting that’s too big for our home? How do you fly so high without a special breathing apparatus? This is the voice of the ego. And if you listen to it, there will always be someone who’s doing better than you. No matter what you gain, the ego will not let you rest. He will tell you that you cannot stop until you’ve left an indelible mark on the earth, until you’ve achieved immortality. How tricky is this ego that it would tempt us with a promise of something we already possess? So I just want you to relax. That’s my job. Relax and dream up a good life.
“This is the voice of the ego. And if you listen to it, there will always be someone who’s doing better than you”. I find Zen really addresses the issue of ego in a profound way.
I love Zen and Stoicism. In the past my mind has been (and still sometimes is) erratic and unpredictable and negative. I both hate it and love it. It reminds me to practice in order to recieve peace. Everything has purpose and there is nothing wrong with you.
If you ever only read one ‘self-help’ book in your life read (and more importantly take action on ) this book:
FEAR! I also highly recommend this talk by a photographer I follow. Her life and business advice is for everyone, not just photographers:
Jim Carrey : (22:29)
I had a substitute teacher from Ireland in the second grade that told my class during morning prayer that when she wants something, anything at all, she prays for it and promises something in return. And she always gets what she wants. I’m sitting at the back of the classroom thinking, “Wow, my family can’t afford a bike.” So I went home and I prayed for one and I promised I would recite the rosary every night in exchange. Broke it. Broke that promise. But two weeks later, I got home from school to find a brand new Mustang bike with a banana seat and easy rider handlebars. Yeah. From fool to cool.
Jim Carrey : (23:11)
My family informed me that I had won the bike in a raffle that a friend of mine had entered my name in without my knowledge whatsoever. So that type of thing has been happening to me ever since. As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass.
“As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass”. Thats the bugger! Letting go of how it will come to pass. Its hard but necessarry as then worry and fear will block you. Just work towards it. IT WILL HAPPEN.
Jim Carrey : (23:32)
Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head. And when the door opens in real life, just walk through it. And don’t worry if you miss your cue because there’s always doors opening. They keep opening. And when I say, “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.” I really don’t know if that’s true. I’m just making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial so that I can deal with them in the most productive way. You’ll come up with your own style. That’s part of the fun.
Jim Carrey : (24:23)
Oh, and why not take a chance on faith as well? Take a chance on faith, not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it. You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world. And after you walk through those doors today, you will only ever have two choices, love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.
“Take a chance on faith”
This reminds me of a quote I love and have tried to live by:
Jim Carrey : (25:16)
Thank you so much. [inaudible 00:25:21]. I’m so honored. Thank you.
“I’m so honored. Thank you.”
Me too. Thank you so so much for reading. Please feel free to comment below your thoughts on any of this, I would be delighted to hear from you :)
With love, Claire x