Is the process of living truly, of really growing up, a messy—even somewhat dangerous—process? Absolutely. For it is not a clean and simple process—learning to think for ourselves. Because we will make mistakes, and will succumb to our conditioning, and we may think we are right when we are wrong, and we might do wrong things thinking we are right. But this is part of the process, and there is no way of getting around it.
In the realm of ‘child development’ they call this ‘growing pains,’ and that is exactly what adult-children have to go through as well. There is no avoiding it. Some will do it better than others. Some will not be able to do it in this lifetime, maybe not the next, maybe not the next.
If you’re one of the very few people who are actually part of the solution, accepting the fact that you will not see societal fruits of your labor in this lifetime is crucial. Part of this, though, is that you must realize that ‘the path’ (of seeing and living things as they really are) is the goal (in this life-time/dimension). The effort-process is the reward. For in reality, there is no such thing as ‘end,’ or ‘reward.’ They are but illusions as well. There is no end ‘Utopia’ where everyone will just be happy and be living the life of Eden, for let’s not forget that the bliss of Eden was the bliss of ignorance, not enlightenment. For to get to that point of enlightenment is but the beginning, not the end; it is the beginning.
And so you must understand it not in the Christian perspective of getting later on what you work for now, for that is wrong. Rather, you must see that what ‘you’ are ‘getting’ is the work itself, is the doing itself. To know and be and do true to your true not-self is it (in this life). What else could possibly be desired? It is beyond desire.
Only when one truly accepts this can they really do it, for then they are not self-righteously feeling as if they are ‘sacrificing,’ and suffering for a ‘better future’. There is no such thing as ‘future’. There is, and only ever is, now. The future simply does not, and will not, and cannot, exist, as you think of it. This does not mean that one should be myopic, not at all. It means to do, now, mindfully. To do, now, mindfully, will take care of the myopia problem.
Will you be ‘sacrificing’? Probably. There is no getting around it. You will certainly have to/grow to let go of, if not give up, many things that you crave/selfishly desire. But I don’t think you need to give up the things that really matter: food, shelter, warmth, clothing, and best of all, real love. This kind of life does not preclude any of these things. And, especially when it comes to real love, it can be a wonderful life, so much more wonderful, so much more, than the self-deluded life that most people live, for only in living this kind of life is one able to live real love.
The point is to not let your conditioning, your selfish desires, control you; you must control them, you must learn to control yourself, and this takes practice. If you let desire rule, then you’re on the wrong track.
There is nothing wrong with material things, in themselves; what is wrong is to not see them as, and for what, they really are; for when it comes to us humans, it is not the thing itself, but how you see it, that matters, that makes you who and what you are.
And so, you may not need to give up those things you currently desire, but the point is that if you are doing it right, it will be okay if you don’t get them, which is essentially the same as not desiring (getting) it. If it is not okay that you do not get what you desire, then you aren’t doing it right.
“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”
(Tyler Durden, in Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk)
That is a brilliant—yet often misunderstood—idea, as it is often said from the attitude of losing material things, and losing all hope, but it is not ultimately about that. Ultimately, it is about letting go. And that does not mean having to live a life of poverty or depravity. It means letting go of that to which you cling (physically, emotionally, mentally, ideologically, even ‘spiritually’). It is about letting go of thinking you need what you desire. It means letting go your desire. Only when you let go can you ever then really ‘have’ anything, for you won’t have it in the way you previously understood that verb. And so I would change the phrase a little:
Only when you let go of everything are you free to do anything.
The more you peel away the layers of your conditioned existence, the more illusions you dissolve, the more you understand what is not, the more you feel the love that is reality.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.
From my personal notes, 8/23/00