Ambition implies drive, will, determination. It is naturally something that has many faces...just as there are many varieties of silence, so too there are many varieties of ambition.
Recently I have been investigating the commercial world. It has brought me face to face with many other issues. What do we work for? What is the meaning of money and renunciation of the world in the modern age? What is a society built upon love? How does money influence such a society - a society where the individual has value - rather than a belief system or an ugly tradition. The movement of money in a society is very interesting. Abraham Lincoln said "prosperity breeds tyrants." My teacher and friend Tara Singh wrote a book with a very telling title: "The Future of Mankind: Affluence without wisdom is Self-Destructive."
Religion and politics and money are all inter-related. 'Politics' comes from a greek word meaning "the family or brotherhood of man." For the writer, religion and psychotherapy are no different in essence. But for the writer, religion has very little to do with what the masses consider it to be.
If we wish to learn about life or an aspect of life, the most essential qualities which we need to have are humility, honesty, the right quality of attention, inward and outward space, a desire to go deeply into things, persistence and discrimination. Discrimination requires questioning things thoroughly and looking carefully at the nature of what is. Doubt is an important tool of discrimination. It can also be an instrument of fear and the fuel behind the movement of anxiety. Hence the quality of our doubting is critical.
I recently had a conversation with a twelve year old boy. He comes from a country where some family traditions are very strictly observed. He told me that having children was a duty of an adult - and having a male child was especially important to the continuance of the family line. For the writer this amount to a form of indoctrination and a poisonous cultural inheritance. For the writer, the critical issue is to understand the nature of suffering and also in that inquiry to be clear about what is the entity which suffers.
Belief and the limitations of perception tend to blind us. Or better put: the unquestioned attachment to belief systems and our lack of questions about the nature of perception - it is these things which tend to blind us.
The word "ordinary"'s root meaning is "that which has order". "Extra" means "out of" or "beyond". Chaos is the absense of order.
We are born into a world of great violence. Where there is comparison and competition - inevitably there is violence. Wherever we live we live in a society that is founded on violence. Whether it be physical violence or psychological violence or financial corruption - it is everywhere we turn. So what is it to be a spiritual warrior? Life is a battlefield. That is an irrefutable fact. How then does one live in that battlefield - and go beyond it inwardly and so outwardly also? How can one transcend self-interest?
Perhaps if we look at what we are - there can be some intelligence. And here is the challenge... to rise above the mediocrity of this world, which can be seen at every level of the society...there must be determination, a certain perserverance... an ambitiousness. Right effort is necessary to live a decent life. That being said, it is only the man who puts his whole heart and being into his work (whilst remaining detached) and who has outgrown status, pride and self-interest who can tread such a path.
Surely, this is the difference between that which is ordinary and that which is extraordinary. That which is ordinary has certain regularity and order to it. But it is conditioned and limited. A mind that is chaotic and disordered is psychologically imbalanced. Such a mind destroys itself and often harms those around it. An ordinary mind somehow gets by within the dictates of our fairly sick world. It has a greater degree of psychological balance. Yet it is nonetheless a prisoner of its own thinking processes.
It is the mind which follows. The mind which builds beaurocracies and traditions that go unquestioned. It is the mind of the masses. Such a mind is never satisfied and forever busy - in a self-destructive way. It has no real relationship with productivity. It is lazy through its busy-ness.
Such a mind creates leaders and an education system and a society where respectful action is valued. It can design new machines and draw beautiful pictures and solve mathematical riddles...but it is never creative in the real sense.
An extraordinary mind naturally awakens when all of this is seen. It is neither accepted nor denied. It does not operate according to a pattern. It is truly awake - attentive - looking, listening....always learning. Consequently, it is related to something else - a deep sensitivity...a powerful stillness...an intelligence at the heart of perception itself. It is of another order: attentive to the implicit order of nature's processes - neither rebelling against them nor denying them - but learning from them. Attentive to what is - but not concluding...rather continuously inquiring.
So there is no relationship between that which is ordinary and that which is extraordinary...as they are incongruent...acting independent of one another. However, with a shift in perception of that which is ordinary...there is the a possibility for transformation - and that means the awakening of another dimension - an expansive field beyond time and thought. Only then is wisdom possible.
With wisdom comes detachment. With detachment one is no longer ruled by the senses or the fluctuations in the nature of the mind. Emotions, naturally, still have poignancy - yet they somehow lose their ability to rule us. The entity which we experience ourself undergoes a sea change. It reaches a state of maturity characterized by insight and sensitivity rather than intellectual and sensory slavery (and hence dullness).
Such changes cannot be willed. They happen naturally when there is right action and right attention. Rather like a farmer who wishes to make a field fertile. He must irrigate the field...channel water to it and plant the seeds for such a transformation. He can practice certain techniques - like irrigation and using fertiliser appropriately. This he can do. That is, he can create the right atmosphere for transformation. He can practice certain techniques. Yet some other power - a power beyond mythology, a power beyond will takes care of the rest, ie, nature, the sun, the rain etc.
In a way, that which is ordinary is that which is mechanical. Mechanical processes are essential to life. But also that which is mechanical is that which is mundane. What is mundane is essential. Mechanistic processes are the stuff of technology. Without technology we cannot live. But to be related to that which is extraordinary, technology alone is not enough. Inner transformation requires the right selection and use of technology - just like a farmer who wishes to bring life to a dead field requires right selection and use of technology. But transformation of the mind is also dependent on a mystical quality in the heart - a kind of determination.
So the old must be reformed to be destroyed. For transformation implies the destruction of old patterns and the arising of something fresh and vital to take its place. Love is not conditioned by the past. Yet, in the world of conditioned existence it shines through our actions and our being - only when there is a comprehension of the human system; and it must be a comprehension that is based neither on ideology nor fantasy...but rather one related to the actual nature of things.
When that happens - what you thought you were is annihilated. What takes its place has a profound simplicity and honesty about it. Then a process begins where fear, loneliness and temptation - although all very strong forces in the human system - are ultimately conquered.
Temptation is not used here as a word implying that there be moral criticism placed upon lust or desire. Rather, it is used to imply that which limits us to being a slave to thought or the senses. Sex is not a problem. We make it a problem in our minds.
Whether we have sex or not; whether we believe in God or not - is surely not important. What is important is whether we are attentive to the movement of the mind - and hence whether we have the capacity to learn about ourselves. Only then can be become aware that there are other forces (beyond ourselves) in life. Then we can have a relationship with beauty. Then destiny is awakened.
This process begins by facing the mind for what it is. In this world it takes guts though. Lots of guts and great, great humility.
It is only when we can go beyond ourselves that the flowering of our humanity can occur...How very rare that is. Never settle for anything else and you are a spiritual warrior.
- ► 2008 (31)
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- ▼ October (42)