In response to why we don’t do the things which are good for us, Marc asked, reasonably, how do we even know what’s good for us? What a wonderful question!
What is it that you really want?
The conventional wisdom
The lifestyle which our conditioning and society pushes on us is not conducive to awakening. It’s a product of collective and individual egos. We strive for status, money, our mixed ideas of beauty, and certainty. If we look deeply, we see we are conditioned to strive for control, security, approval, and completeness.
We get very used to this and we come to believe that what the ego wants is necessary. We don’t think we will be happy unless we strive for and get what the ego wants.
And so the conventional thinking on goals and desires goes something like this:
- You must have goals.
- Make a list.
- Break it down.
- Develop mind-power like visualization, motivation, self-discipline, passion, integrity, perseverance and will-power. Stir up your emotions about it.
- Struggle and achieve
What Essence wants
With this, can you know what you want is aligned with what Essence wants?
You have had the experience that when you want what Essence wants, there are no conflicting beliefs. The mind is unified.
But when you are not of one mind, you are full of conflicting beliefs. Then, you look for ways to trump the limiting beliefs. And this is what most of conventional self-improvement is about. It’s the movement to build conviction in particular beliefs with the hope that when the conviction is strong enough, it will overcome the limiting beliefs we have.
For example, we struggle to recognize the benefits of being thin to conquer all the limiting beliefs we have about our body image. We struggle to accumulate spiritual beliefs to conquer painful and confusing beliefs we have about our past and purpose and existence. We struggle to accumulate the conviction that we want to be wealthy when really all our other beliefs tell us we are undeserving. We desperately search for love with the limiting beliefs that we are unlovable or incapable.
Most of our endeavors to become clear actually are about more accumulation and more beliefs, and therefore more confusion.
In fact, if you look closely, in awareness, you can see that most of our goals are not just thwarted by opposing beliefs, but they are often made up of opposing and limiting beliefs. The desperate search for love, for example, often comes from the limiting belief that I am not lovable or I am not capable of relationships.
Wanting is a thought. The thought “I want…” comes from lack. It is made up of lack.
So how do we release these confused and limiting beliefs around desires and goals?
Deeper wisdom comes from allowing and patience and love. We are afraid of allowing because the ego thinks without the feverish energy of striving, we will become lazy and disengaged. This is the ego’s fear.
Still, it doesn’t serve us to give up desires. A great deal of spiritual wisdom tells just that—give up desires and aversion. But the energy of forcible giving up is the same energy of the ego, and it too comes from a feeling of lack and the confusion of conflicting beliefs.
I’ve found it much easier to let go of the limiting beliefs around desires.
From my own experience and in working with people, it seems the three most common desires we westerners have are about money, relationship, and health. I want to be wealthier and have more things and more security. I want a meaningful relationship. I want better health or fitness or attractiveness.
If we look a little deeper we find that these are really driven by the ego’s need for approval, control, security, or completeness.
Often, because of the beliefs of rebellion, it is the opposites of these that drive the ego. Sometimes we seek disapproval, we seek to give up control, we seek danger, or we seek separation or death.
Releasing the drivers
In stillness, make a list of your desires or goals.
For each desire, note whether you think it comes from a need for approval, control, security, or completeness, or from their opposites. Often, it is a combination of drivers. Simply note down what the components are.
Can you release these needs? Can you release the need for approval, control, security, completeness, and their opposites?
If you have tried the beyond-karma release method, you know that releasing is not difficult—it’s just a little delicate. At first we don’t know what it is that we are trying to release. Then, we may not know exactly what it means to let go. The process, however, is so natural to us that with simply trying it a few times, we remember that we have always known how to let go.
Each moment is a choice
Every moment is a choice.
Love yourself enough. And make every choice from awareness, not the ego. And life will know what to do.