Achievements. Our society is absolutely obsessed by them. Achievements mean success and success means you are worth something, you’ve done something useful, you’ve contributed to society (or at least, to your own ego), you’ve finally “made it”.
The context I’m going to be talking about achievements in is the one where you are constantly striving to enhance yourself, your self-image, your self-worth, through some kind of accomplishment that you deem makes you better, greater and more important, as well as (and perhaps especially) happier and more fulfilled.
Achievements are our society’s way of dangling a carrot in front of your face in order to make you endlessly run towards it, never catching it. The carrot is always just out of reach. Even when you accomplish something the victory seems to be only temporary as the next thing that’s missing is always presented to you again by the world and ultimately your own mind, keeping you eternally stuck in the chase.
Freedom, happiness, fulfillment thus always remain out of reach.
It’s very interesting to notice that when it comes to inner freedom, happiness, peace, love and well being, when it comes to realizing the deep truth that all of these things are right where you are, in fact, that they are a part of you in your essence – any talk about achievements becomes completely pointless.
Now let’s make this clear – there is nothing wrong with getting things done. with having goals, with creating new things, exploring new possibilities and being successful (or what our society defines as success) in life. The problem arises (and this is how I use the word achievement) when we assume that our achievements will bring us great happiness, joy and fulfillment, that they will add to us something special or new that will make us better than we were before or better than others.
Can you achieve awakening? Can you achieve inner freedom, peace, happiness? Let us ponder this for a minute and find out.
The word achievement implies (at least in the form in which it is used in modern society) that something has been accomplished (often times through great effort) that has added something onto who you are, that has enhanced your self-image.
This is a very tricky subject to talk about, because we have been completely brainwashed (ultimately, our society is simply the blind leading the blind) that there is something that needs to happen, some event or situation that needs to take place or some set of parameters that need to be fulfilled in order for you to be happy, content, whole and complete, great and magnificent. It is quite a leap in thinking (or perhaps we could say a leap in awareness) to let go of these preconceived societal notions and find that we are already great, that we are already magnificent. Not only that, we are already whole, complete and free.
So if not to achieve something, why do anything at all?
I would like you to ponder another way of being and acting – why not do things, engage in creative and exploratory activities in your life… simply because you enjoy them right now.
Often times we don’t think of our actions in this way. If our actions don’t lead to a certain goal that will make us whole, complete and free, that will give us a boost in our self-esteem and enhance our self-image , they are simply a waste of time. But I ask you this – isn’t it a waste of time to constantly do something you completely detest and hate (or at the very least find boring and tiring to do?) in order to have a few small glimmers of happiness and contentment in your life? And to find that once you get to those glimmers they are impermanent and quickly fade away?
And no, this does not mean, as many would now assume, that you will play video games or watch TV for the rest of your life.
Many would think that dropping all future, dropping all desire to enhance yourself through a future achievement or accomplishment will mean all of your motivation to do anything that is deemed useful and creative by our society will disappear, that you will become like a plant.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you truly understand, at the heart of your soul, what I am saying, that there is no future accomplishment, no achievement that will bring you satisfaction, you will be able to let go of a massive amount of mental resistance and mental baggage, an enormous amount of pressure you are inflicting on yourself – and you will gain an enormous amount of energy and freedom. When you taste that freedom, that energy that comes from letting go of any desire to add anything onto yourself in the future, the last thing you will desire is to vegetate and aimlessly flip channels on your TV for the rest of your waking life.
Your creativity, your energy, your true inner motivation will flow through you and make you actively participate, create and explore the world around you, making you far more likely to achieve things that are dubbed “great” by our society then if you chose to push forward against your own resistance and ignore the now.
You might “achieve” great things, but that will never matter to you again. You won’t really call it an achievement – it will simply be a part of your creative expression. Even if you win the Nobel prize, you will know that that was never the point – the point is the journey, never the destination.
The only thing that could still pose a problem to you after letting go of the future, is letting go of the past. The problem is not only the future, but the past as well – in fact the problem is the whole conception of psychological time – of the idea that either the past or the future can take something away from you or add something onto you.
Nothing you do will ever add anything to you anymore. Nothing will enhance your self-image. Because you will know at the very core of your soul, that you are and always have been whole, complete and free.
When the future is abolished, the mind might look at the past for answers. But if you truly understand that freedom is where you are and the past is simply in your head, you can just drop it, let go of anything that comes up.
You can just choose to let the past go, like a heavy bag you’ve been unnecessarily carrying around. It is enough to simply become aware of anything that comes up from the past, thus dissolving it. Awareness is the great healer and if you use it well, it will help you let go of anything that arises in your consciousness.
By letting go of the past as well, of any grievances, regrets, you will be completely free and your energy will skyrocket, making you focus on acting from your very core even more. Thus you will see how there is nothing you need to do, nothing you need achieve to be the freedom that you already are.
Thanks for the post. I probably need to read this every few months as a reminder. I remember this for awhile, but then seem to get pulled back into the goals/achievements distraction. It’s a strong tug.