Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's not about what I want - EVER!

This post may rub some people the wrong way.  My intent is not to offend - but rather to tell it like I see it. 

I have a problem with "systems" that profess to help you "GET WHAT YOU WANT."  It really doesn't matter the brand of system - Tony Robbins, The Secret, The Laws of Attraction, Norman Vincent Peale, the Power of Positive Thinking.  All these systems (in my opinion) are flawed.  

The reason I believe these "Control your mind/power/intention to get what you want" programs are flawed is because the basic premise - that if you get what you want you will be happy - is erroneous.   It's a lie!

Being "happy, joyous and free" has very little to do with what I want.  All my problems - all of them - are a result of things I 've wanted.  All of them!  

It is my experience that getting what I want is the cause of my pain and suffering.   Getting what I want never creates happiness - only temporary pleasure.  Happiness is not about getting what I want.  

The reason "Getting what I want" causes pain and suffering is because there can never be enough "stuff" - enough money, success, riches - to satisfy the ego's craving desire.   Additionally, the things that I want - that my mind tends to "grasp" for - are all fleeting and impermanent.

A quick story.  It was 1966 - I was 9 years old.  It was just before Christmas, and I remember thinking to myself...

"...if I only had a remote control P-51 gas powered airplane I would be totally happy and satisifed."  

I wanted that airplane.  I saw it in the model airplane store.  I showed it to my mom and dad (because I knew by this time there wasn't really a Santa Claus).  I told my parents it was the ONLY thing I wanted and if I got it I would never ask for anything again.  I obsessed on that airplane.  I envisioned myself flying the airplane in the field near our house.  I envisioned all  my friends liking me because I had the airplane.  I could think of nothing else. 

I craved the airplane.  Have you ever craved for something like that before?  Be honest!

Christmas morning came and I got the airplane!  I was so excited.  I had made it!  I had arrived!   Life was good.  I didn't even bother to wait for my sisters or parents to open their presents (selfish and self-centered as I was).  I ran outside with the plane to fly it.  My dad helped me start it.  It didn't work as smoothly as I thought it would at first - but it did eventually start.  We got the engine screaming at a high RPM.  We let the plane go.  Up it went - and down it came, crashing into the hard pavement of the cul-de-sac in front of the house.  Broken wing, broken prop, broken dreams. Disappointment.   

We tried to fix the plane but it was never the same.  I got other planes after that.  Then one Christmas several years later I remember craving for a bike - and I thought to myself - "...I remember this feeling - where did it lead before?"

That was then.  The selfish dreams of a 9-year old boy.  What's changed?  Nothing much really. I still have rising cravings for cars, houses, jobs, titles, vacations, clothes, experiences, relationships, - you name it - I've craved it. And none of it has added one ounce of "happiness" to my life.  At best, the things have added moments of pleasure - but fleeting at best.

There's a great quote in the book of Ecclesiasties about this..."Vanity of vanities - all is vanity." The story is about how King Solomon (the Bill Gates of his time - the richest guy in the world) can have anything in the world he desires - anything "under the sun" - yet nothing brings him satisfaction - nothing he can grasp - nothing his eye can see - nothing his mind can think of having - brings him peace.

So what does bring happiness if it's not getting what you want?

BEING WHO YOU ARE - and being of service to others.  This is the definition of Karma Yoga - selfless service.  Doing without concern for the results.  Following spiritual principles of Ahimsa (non-violence/kindness), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Bramacharya (restraint) and Aparigraha (non-hoarding).    This brings happiness (to me anyway) because it aligns me with a larger purpose. 

It's not about getting what I want - it's about being who I am and thinking of others from a spiritual frame of reference.   Seems like it wouldn't be very fun.  In practice - it's wonderfully fulfilling.   


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