A visitor recently wrote the following at TZF’s former Guest Register: “I have been on this inner journey for two years now, and have a question. If we are to have no desires because they cause pain and suffering when not met, why do some teachers say that we must decide specifically on our destiny, and manifest it? Those two perspectives seem to be contradictory. So, my question is, Am I supposed to let go of desire or intentionally seek to manifest my desires?”
As I see it, there is a difference between one’s “destiny” and one’s “desires”.
The desires to which the great Teachers address their concerns, and about which they state that pursing those desires brings suffering and pain, are the desires generated by fear, a sense of isolation, a sense of lack which generates greed, anger, frustration and so forth. Those desires are the desires that involve grasping, accumulating, individual self-aggrandizement, or selfish ambition, pursuit of momentary pleasure, and so forth.
On the other hand, Teachers who encourage us to pursue our destiny are referring to that innate sense that we are “called” to do something in this life which manifests, usually, as a unique path or activity. That is not so much a desire, as it is a direction. As I understand it, to pursue that calling is to manifest one’s destiny. That calling may be simply to be a good person, to live a clean, simple, and peaceful life, or it may be to achieve a position of cultural importance in order to change one’s world ’ each are equally important (none is more significant than the other), and each is unique to each individual, depending upon his or her unique reason for living. No one is in a position to decide this for you, and no one is in a position to suggest one’s choice of life is better than another, even the Teachers. (This is a vital point to keep in mind when reading anyone’s philosophical point of view, as well as in determining your own life’s direction.)
In determining one’s destiny or calling, one needs to sift out the motivations behind pursuing that destiny by self-observation. In other words, one needs to ask oneself, is one pursuing it out of aggrandizement of self, or selfish ambition, or to accumulate money or fame, or simply for the sake of momentary pleasure, or is that person motivated by love and a kind of self-lessness and inclusiveness. I would consider the former as pursuit of desire, and the latter as manifesting one’s destiny.
Simply understanding the difference between the two terms does not always make it easy to determine if one is pursuing one’s desires or one’s destiny. Humans are very devious in rationalizing their motivations in order to fulfill their desires, and we can often fool ourselves into believing we are pursuing our “destiny” for altruistic reasons, when in fact we are seeking money, fame, or other human, selfish desires. It is the pursuit of money, fame, and other human selfish desires which inevitably brings us suffering and pain. (For a moment we may feel pleasure at having achieved or fulfilled a desire, but it fades quickly, and we find ourselves wanting more and more, which in turn leads to more desire and yearning, and if not satisfied, to further suffering, and so forth and so on. Indeed, that kind addiction to more of the same thing will indicate to an observant person that it is a desire being fulfilled, and not a “destiny” being pursued.)
In fulfilling one’s destiny, there will be a kind of background sense of peace and contentment, even when things may not be going so well, a kind of equanimity even during failure. And when things are going well, there will also be a kind of peace and contentment and equanimity, as opposed to over-excitement and elation which usually accompanies satisfaction of desire. Realizing this, one’s response to events can help to distinguish the difference.
So, there is not so much a conflict here, as a problem with terminology. Desire and destiny are, in this case, not the same thing at all. Desire is momentary, easily fulfilled, and shortly lived. Destiny is timeless, never ending, and thus probably never truly fulfilled, but instead, is manifested on a moment to moment or daily basis, and thus, long lived in that sense.
I hope this helps.
A TZF visitor wrote nancy, “Money seems to me to be a very important part of life, and yet most of the Teachers do not even mention the subject. I can understand if one is single and lives simply, how money may not be an issue but in my circumstance it is. My wife and I have four small children, and while she stays home with them, I work. I would like to understand the ‘awakened’ view of money, and to know whether or not I should pray for it, and pursue it”.
Of course money is important to everyone, since without it, we cannot live comfortably, feed our children, pay our bills, create our shelter. In particular, with four children, it becomes an even more important issue in your life. So, there is a perfectly sound reason to be concerned about it, and to seek it. However, the REASON for seeking it is more important than the seeking of it. If your reason for “pursuing” money is motivated by love and devotion to your family and children, then your focus is not on the money itself, but on the wish to protect and provide for your family. That is an admirable trait, and one worth pursuing. On the other hand, if your reason for pursuing money is to acquire name and fame, to fulfill personal ambition, then your emphasis begins to return to money for its own sake, since in this culture money equals name, fame and personal ambition. Money is the measure of all those in this society.
Again, we come up against a fine line: Where does the pursuit of money become an end in itself? When does it become the goal, as opposed to a means to attain a goal? Answering that question requires constant self-observation and strict honesty with oneself. That is not always easy, and many of us find ourselves forgetting to do so in the heat of living a life.
One way around this dilemma is to pray for what you TRULY need, and in that effort, to discover what you TRULY want. In your note it seems to me that what you need is protection, safety, shelter, food, and comfort for your family. If you pray for THAT, as opposed to praying for money, the Universe will provide for that, because your motivation is selfless, and motivated by love. It may be provided with money, and it may be provided in other ways, but however it is provided, it is because you have created the vacuum which is instantly filled in God’s way, and therefore, within the context of other priorities within your life. We have no way of knowing for sure what our life’s purpose is, and the only way to discover that, I think, is to allow it to unfold as naturally and as unselfishly as possible. The method to allow that to happen is to “ALLOW it to happen” ’ not to direct God or the Universe by restricting or limiting the answers to our prayers, but by giving that direction and means to the Provider of everything in the Universe, including money.
In other words, if you understand who God is (all powerful, all loving, all knowing, all creating, all goodness, all things, etc.), and truly know this to be true, by delegating your life and its direction to this kind of a God, with all those attributes, it is inevitable that your life will reflect those attributes. That is the way the Universe functions. The opposite of this, of course, is that if you limit your God, by determining how your needs will be met, the Universe will reflect THAT, and it will be limited, naturally. Too often, people do not seem to grasp this most basic and simple premise: Our Universe is ours, and reflects our state of consciousness. So, to the extent we limit it, to that extent, God in His/Her graciousness, gives us what we want ’ a Universe with limitations. Again, the opposite is of course equally true, and as we allow God to expand within our understanding of God, to that extent our lives and Universe will reflect THAT expansion. That is why it is broader, and therefore more effective, to pray for the fulfillment of our basic needs, rather than for what we presume will fill those needs.
Thus, as I see it, the “awakened” view towards money is to realize what money truly is, a means to an end, and that money is only one means to that end. It is the end that is important, not the means. If your eye (and therefore your consciousness) is always on the accumulation of money, you will limit your opportunities to fulfill your true needs, which are not money, but are safety, protection, shelter, and so on. If you keep your eye, and thus your prayers, on the end or goal, how that goal is met will COME to you, and you will not have to “pursue” anything. Or, put another way, if you get out of the way of God’s plan for you, by trusting in a benevolent God to work it out for you, it will work itself out.
All of this requires, of course, trust and flexibility and surrender, none of which is easily come by. And it also requires cooperation with what comes your way. By using the term “comes to you”, I do not mean your needs will be met as you sit and eat “bon bons” in front a television all day ’ although, theoretically, properly understood, one probably could! :-) We are vehicles for the manifestation of God in this Universe, and thus, we have an act to play in this drama, and our cooperating with the Director & Author (God) is essential to that manifestation.
Anyway, that is how I look at it.
is when what you think, what you say,
and what you do, are in harmony.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.