I was wondering about the constant fixation on SUCCESS and on the so called successful people in the past and current human potential movement. Many seem to be obsessively pre-occupied about ‘going Big’ on goals of getting the perfect partner or that big car or that big success in an entrepreneurial venture. While my thoughts reflected on what’s really true or false about the many prescribed and luring promises of happiness from the success pandits, I came across this quote in one of my email subscriptions . I was moved to wonder how much this seemingly contrasting quote could be true too.
Dharma Quote of the Week
THE ONLY THING WORTH DOING
At present we have this rare and good human life of freedom and fortune, but it won’t last forever. We are certain to die and don’t know when. At death nothing at all but our spiritual practice will be of any use to us. That is the only thing worth doing—everything else is a futile waste of energy. We tire ourselves for the sake of reward and reputation and in our search for the kind of companions we prefer, but we can take none of these with us when we die. They must be left behind and only the imprints of negative actions we have performed in the process of trying to acquire them accompany us to our next rebirth. This is not hard to understand, but we must remember it and think about it till it affects the way we think and feel.
from Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment,
by Geshe Sonam Rinchen
Whether we believe in a life after death or not, I am sure many of us can relate to the fact that every destination that we reach, we always face ourselves with the fact that we are still not happy, well at least after the first flush of the victory lap that we deserve to enjoy. So, are all goals really futile as is mentioned by Geshe Rinchen above or is that thrill of the victory lap all there is to our destinations? If most of us are honest, we may realize that we assume explicitly or implicitly, admitted or not, that our destinations are the very definition of our happiness.
Well, even though the goals might be futile, there is perhaps a healthy value in understanding it as futile and still pursuing it for the heck of it, or well for the value the journey brings. It just doesn’t matter whether we even reach those ‘futile’ destinations. But the ‘positive efforts’ we make while on the road/roads that we take to possibly reach that destination, leaves behind something that we can take with us in our deaths. Habits of mind stays with us. As long as we make sure its not something that we would rather not like to carry with us.
Goals may not just be for the sake of ‘giving happiness’ to us. Destinations and goals do contribute to humanity in some way or the other in addition to its potent capacity to contribute to inflating our ego and our suffering. But to fixate on it and associate a lot of substance to the value of the destination or goal is pointless. Because even that contribution is most likely temporary and thereby insubstantial in the larger scheme of things.
And what about the spiritual practice that the quote suggests as its main message? I think its difficult to deny that practising more love, joy, peace and focus and getting to experience ‘truths’ beyond the general appearances of life runs deep and stays with us for other experiences even in this life? So why not if it can stay with us after our death, if there is indeed a life after death? And why not strengthen them using some prescribed spiritual practices whatever suits us best?
So I like to say that the only thing worth doing is to be alert, awake and aware; positive, persistent and patient; explore, enquire and enjoy; love, laugh and let go while we walk on the roads in our journeys towards whatever destination we set our minds on. If some choose to walk on the road with a destination of enlightenment that is great or if some walk without any fancy success destination at all, that may be great too.
Check this cool and humorous article, which to me, gave the same message without using all those heavier words explicitly… ;-).
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre Entrepreneurs