“Start with the end in mind.”
~ Stephen Covey
When we look at the product cycle of everything, we see firstly that everything has to compete for a place in the universe. Whether an idea, style, philosophy or business, it all starts out trying to get a foothold.
Buddha was like this; he wasn’t a god or divine spirit. He was a guy with some cool ideas about how to make the world a better place.
Then marketing got involved and turned it into a business.
Enlightened thinking isn’t a place to get to; it is a means to an end.
Being enlightened was only supposed to be the beginning. I understand enlightened thinking as being concerned with the four L’s.
1. Liberation (from the illusions of society, the seven fears, ego and personality)
2. Life purpose (serving the world with your unique gifts)
3. Lifelong learning (the accumulation of wisdom to help you in your mission)
4. Love and compassion (for all humanity and the earth’s ecology)
Buddha was a critical person. He didn’t like what was happening outside the gates of the palace. He renounced all of his status and wealth and got busy helping others. You’ve got to be pretty tough and compassionate to see that kind of commitment through. He probably practiced meditation to build resilience and the ability to focus on his life’s purpose. Being good at meditation wasn’t the objective though.
Knowing he had a big job on his hands, he enlisted some help. His first job was to show those interested in the practice of how to think in an enlightened way. Think of the blue pill and the red pill from the movie “The Matrix.” Becoming enlightened wasn’t meant to take forever; they had stuff to get done. They got enlightened quickly because it was just a way of thinking.
You can’t “be” enlightened. You can, with practices like yoga, mindfulness and meditation, spend more time thinking in an enlightened way.
One of the challenges that humanity faces is that our egoic thinking keeps pulling us back to the control/conform stage of human evolution. What I mean by this is that the means values become confused with the end values. Personal development for the sake of being “personally developed” is pointless.
Survival for the sake of staying alive doesn’t make you happy. Psychologist Viktor Frankle discovered this as a prisoner in the Nazi death camps in World War II. Prisoners who had a sense of purpose outside themselves had a higher chance of survival.
A few people earning most of the money in a society is seriously undermining the health and well-being of society. That’s why we could do with more enlightened entrepreneurial leaders. In spirit, one could argue that if Buddha was alive today, he wouldn’t be hiding in a monastery, he would be out there being socially entrepreneurial.
We tend to think of mindfulness and enlightenment as permanent states. We want to be in control of it, to own it. As is the case in our present capitalist economy, you can now pay to get a degree to teach mindfulness. Eventually you will not be able to teach mindfulness unless you’ve got the teaching qualification.
They’ve just tapped into something (which is universally free) and turned it into bottled water.
What a ridiculous concept.
The means have become confused with the end. Buddha wanted a better, compassionate world for all. Enlightenment isn’t meant to be for the few people who can afford it and it is not suppose to be hard to obtain—in fact, quite the opposite. It will only really work if it is universal.
Buddha didn’t promote someone into his position before he passed away; he didn’t need replacing. He was hoping the people he had worked with would carry on into the world, righting wrongs, criticizing caste systems and spreading compassion. Not his version of compassion. Just compassion. Nobody has the rights to it, nor should they.
A path and a gateway have no meaning once the objective is in sight.
Your practice is meant to prepare you for the important work of pursuing your mission. It doesn’t need to be yoga or nirvana. There is a diversity of paths and practices to help you get there. Your path could be in business, art, music or dance. Whatever your path is, the end objective is to make the world a better place.
We talk about self-love being important, when actually, the way to feel better is to turn your attention outside yourself, a state of non-self or anatma.
Martin Seligman, father of positive psychology, has researched happiness and found that we need three things to be happy.
1. A Purpose in life
We want to be involved in something meaningful.
We want to do work we derive pleasure from by simply doing it, which serves the purpose.
In other words, the ego.
What he noticed is that the majority of people had got it the wrong way around. The pursuit of pleasure, first and foremost, meant that people were chasing egoic goals. The ego is never satisfied for long, so pleasure is always short lived. You’re always chasing for another hit, even to the point of forgetting what your original purpose was. This often leads to collapse as you bend and break the rules to maintain your ego, which is just a mental construct.
If you don’t know what your life purpose is, then that is your life purpose. You have to uncover your life purpose in what you are doing and focus on it. Whatever you practice ask yourself:
“Why I am doing this?”
And with each answer, keep asking “why,” until you come to the end value—your life’s purpose. By keeping the end in mind, your life will become richer because you will feel it’s all connected, collaborative and you will be contributing to the whole world.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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