Spiritual life is not about achieving

This morning I am thinking about the enormous emphasis here in the US on achievement and success. We are culturally conditioned to be achievers. I have a notebook on my desk. On the cover is printed,” Make It Happen!” Almost all of us are trying to juggle tremendous workloads with family and other obligations. On top of that we believe we have to hustle to make our dreams come true. Our lives become a never-ending hive of activity and yet we feel we must push harder to Make It Happen. Many of us also bring this attitude into our spiritual practice. That’s unfortunate because spiritual life requires a very different mindset. We need to drop this mind of achieving something and live right here, right now, living the life we have instead of the one we think we ought to have. We cannot plan our spiritual progress nor can we achieve it. Our focus needs to be on the Divine in every moment that unfolds. Instead of focusing on our self we believe to be imperfect, we need to focus on the Self that we are which is by nature perfect. That’s our true nature. We don’t have to achieve it because we already are that, no matter how imperfect we feel. You might ask, “Are we not supposed to improve ourselves? To become kinder, more selfless individuals?” Yes, but we must examine our minds. Our spiritual life is aimed at encountering the Divine not trying to make our ego-based self perfect. The point is to lose the intense grip we have on our small sense of me and mine. It’s a losing battle if our basic belief is “I’m not good enough.” Our spiritual practice becomes about being good enough to “realize God”, our big achievement. Instead, we wind up reinforcing that ego-based, not good enough self. WE CANNOT ACHIEVE GOD-REALIZATION. We need to step out of our notion that, with enough hard work, we can cause this Divine revelation to happen. In Vedantic terms we are ALREADY That. That’s the craziness of this maya-based thinking; we believe that we have to achieve something that we already are! Our spiritual life is to be lived and not practiced. Does that make sense? I like the Zen term ‘no-mind’ to describe the basis of our spiritual outlook. Right here, right now, with the gift of your own life just as it is. Then, as the story evolves, go forward, step by step, without any thought of achieving some future enlightened state . Take every opportunity to drop the mind of me and mine, and instead, see the Divine everywhere.

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