We are so used to understanding certain aspects of life, that we believe one day we can also understand Life itself in that way. We believe that it’s possible to one day “have it ALL figured out”. When something breaks and we fix it, we realize that we just had to keep trying and we’ll figure it out. When we finally get that promotion after years of trying, we realize that hard work and patience really pay off. In both of these examples, we get this sense of accomplishment or finality of reaching our goal. We believe that we “figured it out” by one means or another. This happens all day long with really everything we do. So, it’s easy to understand why we might believe the same thing about Life itself, especially if we’ve embarked on a spiritual journey for which the goal is just that…to figure out Life. What we discover on this path is that nothing compares to Life and no one has it ALL figured out…
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This thought process starts initially when we are young through the admiration of others. We look up to people who we believe have life figured out completely. It might be a professional athlete, musical artist or TV personality. It makes sense to think these people have life figured out. I mean, playing basketball for a living and making millions of dollars??? What else in life is there to figure out???
As time goes on, we realize there is more to life, much more in fact. But, we still believe there are people out there who have it all figured out. We just shift who we think those people are in our heads based on what we now believe to be the ideal existence. For example, in the spiritual world, someone might think a Zen Master has life figured out. They have boiled life down to being fully present in the moment and removed the clutter of life in exchange for clarity. Ask a Zen Master though and he/she will tell you they don’t have it all figured out and face the same challenges as you and I. Ask that same question to Brad Pitt, Tom Brady, Al Roker, a lottery winner or retired dot-com millionaire in his 30’s and anyone else that might seem to have life all figured out…if they are being honest, they’ll say the same thing: “everyone has problems, everyone has challenges.”
The Bad News (which turns out to be good)
Once we realize that everyone has problems and everyone has challenges, it seems like a downer at first because that which we have been striving for is most likely motivated by some desire to eliminate those issues from our lives. For example, many people work very hard to make lots of money and are motivated because they believe that once they have enough money, they won’t have to worry about anything anymore. Their family will be safe and secure without a worry in the world. This never happens. The “bad news” in this case however turns out to be good news in the end. Becoming aware of the reality that we’ll face being human no matter what we grasp for or achieve is a huge step. It can liberate us by itself and will certainly put things in perspective. How disappointing it must be for people who realize this Truth the hard way decades later. There is no Silver Bullet here and if there was, it definitely wouldn’t be money.
The Good News
After soaking in the bad news, the good news actually seems great! Now, we can stop spending our energy focused on something we know will not bring us fulfillment and happiness and point ourselves toward something that will. We can see the illusion now. It’s like learning how a magician does a certain trick. Some people call this “enlightenment”, but you don’t need to label it. So, what will make us happy if it’s not being rich and/or famous? Try doing the 10 Steps to Bliss. Fulfillment is what we truly seek once we can see through the illusion of material happiness. You may find fulfillment in a variety of ways.
How do we find fulfillment?
Fulfillment is something that’s almost indescribable. Think about it…when was the last time you felt fulfilled? If we can remember a time when that feeling was present, then it’s the key to figuring out how to get back to that space. For some people, this will be helping the poor or less fortunate, working toward the greater good, inventing something to help sustain the planet or make clean energy, making other people happy, taking care of children who need it, writing, painting, you name it! Whatever brings us that deep sense of fulfillment, THAT is what we need to do. The hard part is, we often think of what might bring us fulfillment, but that activity or job doesn’t add up money-wise. You might say “I’ve always wanted to be an elementary school teacher” but they make 30k/year and you need to make 100k/year to pay your current bills. This money-test causes many people to follow a path of materialism vs. a path of fulfillment. We just learned that money won’t make us happy, so what’s more important? Happiness or Money? What if I told you that I could give you $10,000,000 cash right now, but you’d be miserable the rest of your life OR take every cent in your bank account away and you’d be the happiest person in the world…which would you choose?
A Great Relief
We’ve all done it. Looked at someone we admired or even someone we don’t know at all and said to ourselves “That guy’s really got it figured out…I wish I had his life.” For some reason, when we look at other people, it often appears as if they have something figured out that we don’t. Maybe it’s because we’re just seeing them at their best moment or we don’t follow them around all day and therefore don’t know all the dirt. But the truth is, no one “has it made”. Life is as tough for you and me as it is anyone else. Rich, poor, famous or unheard-of, we all fight the same battle in life. None of us has is ALL figured out, but when we experience those moments when we think we do, enjoy it!
Happy Meditating. I really hope it helps. Namaste 🙂