You say that we shouldn’t want anything but then what would motivate me to do anything? Why would I go to work if I didn’t want things? How exactly am I supposed to put together the life I want if I don’t go out and get those things? I want to be as spiritually healthy as the next person but what’s the point if I have to live a life that’s ugly and cheap and unsatisfying? Can’t I have my cake and eat it too?
I love your question so much I want to tackle each part of it separately. Let’s start with: “Why would I go to work if I didn’t want things?” Yeah, why do you go to work? Have you ever questioned that? Why do you need a job to exist? Why do you need to work for someone? Think about it. That’s a relatively new idea.
Once any society could feed itself, that freed up people to do other things. And because we were envious of the things that the Kings and Queens or Sultans or Emperors had, we found ways to create value s that we could acquire those things too. Over time, we started buying more and more items where the ‘value’ existed strictly in separating us from others by way of consumer-based social status.
Yes, the world needs many useful things. But at the same time, a whole system of advertising, marketing, promotion, and hidden agendas got built up around our egotistical need to try and elevate ourselves by reflecting and collecting our society’s status symbols. Meanwhile rates of mental health struggles just kept rising the more we wanted.
Wanting is to get the cart before the horse. The talented architect does not build a highly function and beautiful building as a way of anointing themselves as successful. The great painters weren’t looking for what we like, they were looking for what they liked. The most heartfelt songwriters aren’t that way because they are trying to sell us songs. They trying to tell a sort of truth.
Whether it’s cooking a meal, or raising people’s consciousness, or even helping a little old lady across the street, true creation is an authentic act, and it takes place through experience, not objects or ideas.
Our healthiest selves are not trying to impress us or anyone else, nor is that healthy version of us focused on furthering some external agenda we have, about who we want to be in the future. We’re more focused on who we are being in any given moment, during any given experience.
This healthy part of us exists naturally, without external motivation. It recognizes manifestation, not comparison. It is the releasing of creativity rather than the ownership of beauty.
If you want a truly enviable life then live an authentic one. Don’t go to stores and collect all the things you’ve been told to collect by music, and TV and the web, or through your friends who got their ideas from the same sources. Be original by being yourself.
Move in directions not because they reflect well on you, move in directions that naturally inspire you. Get more interested in the things you find easy that others find hard. Then, don’t collect things, experience things. Because you can tell yourself and others a good story about your impressive life; Or you can go out and actually live through deep and profound experiences.
In reality we all do a little of both. We can’t be found if there isn’t also a way to be lost. But the game is to be lost for the least amount of lifetime as possible.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.