It seems that we are always looking for ideas we can use to improve ourselves. We go around reading books, watching videos, listening to talks, participating in rituals, attending presentations, workshops, and retreats, and spotting new teachers, new gurus who we hope will give us the ultimate formula to make us better, to make us happy.
But who are the ones looking for improvement? We are the ones, right? We are the ones who consider ourselves to be somewhat defective and incomplete and who want to do what is necessary to achieve a state of perfection and wholeness. So, let’s pause and think about this for a moment: we begin the journey with the premise that we are imperfect, and we are relying on ourselves, imperfect beings, to create what we imagine to be perfect beings. But isn’t it reasonable to consider that if we knew how to create perfect beings, we would be those beings already? Do you get it? Isn’t this kind of thinking and pursuit somewhat crazy?
What if, instead of analyzing (and over-analyzing) ourselves (and others) — instead of finding fault, criticizing, judging, and condemning — we simply accepted that we are as we are, and that who we are is wonderful. As Wally Dale says, “we are all on a journey, and we are at different spots physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and wherever we are, that’s where we are supposed to be.”
Now, what if we came to accept that the premise that we are imperfect is false, and that this constant struggle to better ourselves is what is impeding us from bettering ourselves and enjoying life to the fullest? Think about it for a moment. How would this new thought affect us? What would happen if we knew, beyond any shadow of doubt, that there’s nothing we can do to be better? It would, at least, be a huge relief, wouldn’t it? Realizing that there’s nothing we can do to improve ourselves would give us a breather in the course of which we would simply relax and allow the Forces of the Universe to work in us and through us. It would give us permission to pause and observe what is going on, and, maybe, then we would find out that this is the magic recipe for a good life, the one we have so desperately been looking for.
I invite you to listen to what Alan Watts has to say…
Some food for thought, from Alan Watts talk:
Is there anyway in which one’s mind can be transformed, or is it simply a process which is nothing more than a vicious circle? What are we looking for? What are we seeking? Are we in search of some wisdom that is going to help us change ourselves, improve ourselves? Do we feel that it is our duty to do what we can to improve ourselves? Now, can we improve ourselves? Is this possible, or is this an illusion, a vicious circle? How can we improve ourselves if “the person who is going to do the improving is the one who needs to be improved?” Can we stop this pursuit and simply accept who we are?
We are called to watch our feelings, our emotions. We are called to remain impassive, impartial, suspending judgment and taking an objective view of what is going on. Who is this self, behind the self, who is watching the self? Who is The Watcher, The Observer, The Witness? Isn’t The Watching Self, The Observing Self, The Witnessing Self behind our thoughts and feelings a thought itself?
When the ego is about to be unmasked it immediately identifies itself with a higher self. What drives us to do the work to be more spiritual and selfless people? Many times, the spiritual quest — the quest for self-improvement — is no different from the quest for material success; the drive is the same, it is ego-driven. In essence, we still see ourselves as separated from others, and in competition with others, and we engage in developing ourselves because our egos want to experience the rewards of feeling somewhat superior.
How do we know what is good for us? If we say that we want to improve ourselves, then we ought to know what is good for us. But, obviously, we don’t because if we did we would be improved already. If we are really aware of our own inner workings we will realize that there’s nothing we can do to improve ourselves, and this also goes for society.
Let us suppose that we can’t do anything to change ourselves. What would happen if you knew beyond any shadow of doubt that there’s nothing we can do to be better?
When we free ourselves from the busyness of trying to improve everything, then our own nature will begin to take care of itself, because we will not be getting in our own way all the time. We will begin to find out that the great things that we do, we are not actually doing them, but they are being done through us.
The mind that can improve the mind is not the same mind. The mind that can improve the mind is the mind that observes the mind.
The seeking for answers is innate in us. The drive to expand our consciousness is in our own nature (or is it a thought/value that was implanted in us by the prevailing competitive culture and that pushes us to improve, be better, compete and succeed? Is the spiritual pursuit — the drive to expand our consciousness — also ego-driven?). Everything is expanding (and contracting). Transformation is inevitable, so is our expansion.
An unexamined life is not worth living. I get great joy from the intellectual exercise of understanding ideas and making connections. It helps me to see differently, and I see value in this exercise, this exploration. I see that I am changing, and I like the change. I see that the new ideas allow me to see differently, understand differently. They liberate me, and I like that.
What is, simply is, just like the sound of clapping hands. We are the ones attaching meanings and labeling the occurrences as good or bad, right or wrong. We are the ones creating stories based on what happens to us. What if we stopped labeling and classifying? What if we stopped creating stories where we are the protagonists? What if we simply watched what happens and accepted what is? Wouldn’t, then, everything be just what it is?
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Take a look at my books at the Peaceful Ways online store
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”