The title here sounds like I am about to present to you the dogmatic proceedings of a sect. Actually what I am intending is to illustrate how important it is to:
- identify the main priority we set in life
- analyze the motive behind it
- critically question if that is what we really want and how it will affect other aspects of our life
- re-prioritize if necessary and set the number one goal to creating value for the whole
- learn from desires in the context of working for the higher good
- remain wakeful to any tricks of the ego to get the upper hand!
In many cases we blindly follow abstract and conventional goals that society dictates to us simply because we haven’t been trained to think independently of the status quo, or it is too challenging to do so. We aren’t aware of where we are heading and why! It could be anything from getting rich, wanting a family or the perfect partner, the most secure job, become the best painter etc. In themselves these goals are not “wrong”, but why we have them and how we deal with them has vast implications.
Many goals are fear-driven, not by a rational drive to survive, but by the negative mindset that our culture of dependency promotes. We naturally organise our priorities according to the top one, so many sub-goals will also tend to be fear-driven. Even if with fear as a motivational force, we have strong drive, are highly efficient and organized and do manifest the goal we are aiming for, we may find out after years of labouring that it’s not what we were really looking for. We discover that the new situation has its own set of challenges and we saw it before as a kind of escape. “The grass is always greener over there” can be a strong motivation for perseverance and much activity but if it is the underlying personal trait, we will eternally be dissatisfied, ungrateful, and would have been better off spending perhaps much less time and energy in confronting and transforming our escapist habit. In that way we could have opened up many doors to real happiness and success.
I want to broadly identify the relationship between the matter of greatest value that a person gives in life, and the typical consequences of “worshipping” this object. As I see it, there are 2 types of worship which have massively different outcomes.
The creative form of worship is that of the greater good, of which one is part. It is done with the intention of gaining spiritual strength through learning and the use of free-will.
The destructive form is to worship with the intention of dependency.
I use the word worship because attaching extreme importance to an aspect of life is equivalent to bowing down before it like a deity. We can do that consciously to grow, as I’ve stated, or blindly, habitually unquestioningly – expecting to be rescued from suffering by some external power. This is another form of addiction and is largely overlooked.
There is nothing wrong with concentrating efforts on attaining things that are greatly lacking in our lives – themes which cause suffering. These could be long-term or short-term efforts. The problems start, however, when the focus on the feature desired becomes the number 1 priority in life as a rule, taking precedence over our responsibility to the whole. When our humanity takes second place, generally, we will inevitably cause suffering for ourselves and others at some point. If this becomes habit, we not only lose strength as we succumb to fear-based decisions, but when we are faced with major problems, we might be reduced to behaving like animals, with negative consequences for everyone concerned.
Fortunately we are always in a position to maintain our sense of humanity, even in the direst circumstances. It all depends on maintaining the fighting spirit and wakefulness to cause and effect. There have been many accounts in history of people, e.g. in poverty or war-situations who have shown courage, compassion and wisdom despite being under duress themselves. When we tap into our human potential in those worst times, we gain strength and hope and can move mountains. When we lose sight of our humanity, we operate solely on the level of fear, which is fundamentally weak. If we connect ourselves with the greater good, we can see many doors of possibility opening up and transcend the dependencies- and transitional nature of material existence.
Isn’t that something worth struggling for? The feeling of being completely alive, connected and eternal all at once?
The fantastic thing is, as long as we make the greater good our top priority, and I mean not just theoretically or with words, but with our full intention so that it infiltrates our thoughts, words and actions – we can use our desires as a motor for learning. We can follow our desires in order to see them for what they really are! Desires are a powerful tool, but need to be mastered, kept in check, recognised and accepted as they arise as an inevitable part of life, in order to learn more and expand our consciousness. If the basis for decisions now is the greater good – a higher life state, then following our desires becomes a liberating experience because it starts from the point of strength and consciousness.
If we choose to place highest value on the desire itself and commit ourself to that goal without greater perspective, it is like a headlong projection into a cycle of unconscious dependency from the starting point of worshipping dependence!
Once we have experienced the benefits of priority setting at this no.1 level, we can more wisely apply the techniques of improving our ability to manifest our creative wishes. Most importantly, we should remain wakeful to the tricks of the mind (ego) which will regularly try to convince us to follow the path of fear and separation again! Thus the need for regular reflection, and the exercising of courage and strong resolve!