The Seeker of Peace

Why Do Anything?
January 28, 2009, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

For a while now, I’ve struggled with the motivation to do anything. It’s not that my ego doesn’t find worldly distractions to keep me busy. Rather, it’s been hard to see anything as too important. As I wrote three months ago about working in a world of illusion, non-dualistic traditions teach that the world is illusory. So, why put a lot of effort into work, retirement planning, home maintenance, etc.?

There are people who are enlightened (or at least claim to be) and live with very little material wealth, doing very little in the material world. Would that be easier and a less encumbered path? While that didn’t feel right to me, I thought it might be my ego attachment to worldly success.

Fortunately, I had a realization today that gave me new clarity. Yes, the world is illusory and meaningless. However, what I perceive is a reflection of what I do. If I do something that is an expression of joy and love, then my (illusory) world will contain more joy and love.

The enlightened people who seem to tread lightly on the material world are probably doing more than I realize to express their love. Certainly, being apathetic is not an expression of love at all. This speaks strongly towards the importance of doing something that brings more love and joy into my world.

I spend a lot of time doing things that are counterproductive in this sense. Reading the news, which is usually bad news, hardly brings more love and joy. Whereas writing that story that’s been bouncing around in my head, if done with the right attitude, could be an expression of love.

Perhaps this is the explanation of the old Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I had thought that the saying meant that you still have to do your worldly chores after awakening, but now I think it goes deeper. Maybe it means that after awakening, you can do the same tasks as manifestations of your love.

For an unawakened person such as myself, making tasks a manifestation of my love might be a good place to start. As an approach, it’s certainly a way to snap out of apathy.


4 Comments so far
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From another perspective, doing something in the world (however illusory it is) affords us the opportunities to learn lessons we wouldn’t otherwise have learned (hopefully sending along our merry way toward enlightenment…somehow…soon, I hope!). 🙂

Comment by Roia

And if you accept the ACIM assertion that “only love is real,” by bringing love into the world you’re helping to transform the illusion from the unreal to the real.

Comment by Sarah

One thing I find helpful to remember is that the ego loves the status quo. So sometimes apathy is a result of losing the need to grasp or defend–a kind of detachment that results in a temporary loss of interest. However, it becomes less temporary and longer-lasting when the ego latches onto it and makes stories about its meaning.

It then becomes something you identify with as “me.” “I am apathetic,” when in reality it was just a temporary state passing through. Then the ego goes a step further and makes you fear breaking out of the state once you’ve identified with it. Happens all the time. Very sneaky.

Comment by marian

For another point of view :

Friend, I don’t think the world is an illusion in the sense of classical advaita, in fact non duality (and no need to even limit ourselves to that concept) to me means no difference, or separation, the world itself is the ” Self”, no less real than an inner ‘Self’ Everyone knows this at Heart, but in the traditions the world is seen as problematic and an escape to the ‘Self’ as immovable consciousness, for ever free of the problem of the world as suffering, is the motive. Just today I was looking at the world and my love for it was astonishing, there was no problem about it and no lack of Divine consciousness in it (no enlightenment here either !)


Comment by Nitram

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