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I Smell a Rat
Glen: Hello, James. Well, thank you, first. Your website and the text about enlightenment came to my attention through Annette Nibley’s site. I was awake half of the night out of happy excitement about your logical overview of all the enlightenment myths. I said that’s what I think/thought! And that too!
It feels silly (especially when I see the question written in the mail, but I have a question: Is it okay to pursue my worldly desires (in a big way)?
James: Actually, it all depends on what you think life is all about. Why are you here on earth in this strange meat tube? Are you here to get something from the world or are you here to get free of the world? If you are clear about the why, then what to do is taken care of.
Glen: Some background info on what has been around the last few years. I read Krishnamurti for a few years in my early twenties and I discovered non-duality about two or three years ago. I have an all-or-nothing pattern in my brain for stuff I deal with, so I have done nothing other than reading and implementing everything I could find about it. Along the way I have neglected the rest of my life and tried to keep dispassionate about what happened. One day the IRS came and laid claim to all my possessions, including my house because I was reading I Am That and not taking care of business.
James: Evidently I Am That was more important to you than the practical stuff.
Glen: Now, lately I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to keep common sense and it’s just too damn inconvenient to be broke all the time, so I am building a business again.
James: I think that is wise.
Glen: In the meantime my identity seems to have shifted from the person to “the looker” who is just observing.
James: Count yourself among the lucky ones. Let’s hope it does not shift back.
Glen: Now, I actually don’t see a problem acting on my desires anymore, because I know there’s only a problem for my personality when I want them to work out (because I’m f!cked when I want them to work out some way and they don’t!!), but I still feel doubts.
James: You have no control over what happens when you act on your desires. This is just a fact. So if you do your actions in an appropriate and timely way, that is all you have to worry about. The rest is up to life. If you are acting and getting all worked up about whether or not you will get what you want or if you are not happy with what you get, you don’t understand reality. The results of what you do are not up to you.
Glen: There’s a belief that says that I have to “give everything out of my hands,” but who is going to give something to whom?
James: Turning everything over to God (or whatever you want to call it) simply means that you understand that the results of the action are not up to you. It is a state of mind based on a clear knowledge of the nature of reality.
Glen: Somehow the enlightenment thing got all mixed up with neglecting the rational day-to-day functions of the brain.
James: Yes, indeed. It is a both/and, not an either/or situation. Most everyone makes this mistake, the “I can’t be spiritual and live in the evil world” idea. It is wrong. There is nothing unspiritual about the world at all. It is only a belief.
Glen: Well, still I feel doubts about the issue my first question is about, maybe you have a thought about it. I have had some “feelings” about this stuff that came and more or less came down to do what you want, as long as you are a 100% genuine with everything you do and if you’re not attached to results, it’s all good. Why the hell not? And then emotions come in a confirming way that makes me almost cry (seriously). ☺
James: Your idea is correct. Do what you want, but do it with the understanding that what you get is not up to you and don’t get upset when you don’t get what you want or get what you don’t want. This is how you keep your mind happy when you are pursuing your desires.
Then learn from your mistakes. The I Am That episode is a good example. You did not want to lose your stuff and have a run-in with the IRS, but this was the result of getting stuck in the spiritual stuff. So you took your lumps and learned a lesson. Life will teach you like nothing else.
Glen: About the desires: it’s about building a business so I can paint, make music all day and travel with my girlfriend.
James: If that is what you want to do, you are free to do it. There is no one else who can decide but you. However, once you have accomplished that, what will you do then? I don’t know, but I smell a rat here somewhere. I am going to speculate. It is obvious that you have a strong spiritual desire. If you didn’t you would not have got so involved in Krishnamurti and I Am That that you lost your worldly shirt.
The idea of I Am That is that the purpose of life is freedom from dependence on things in the world. That is the goal of the spiritual life. But it seems that you did not achieve that goal, because the thing you say you want now is to pursue pleasure in the world, i.e. make money, travel and have a nice time with the ladies. So it seems to me that your present goal is in conflict with your original goal. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that if you do accomplish your worldly goal, there will come a time when it will no longer satisfy you and you will find yourself at a crisis point again.
Why not do what you want to do in such a way that it becomes a spiritual path for you? If this appeals to you, I suggest you get my book How to Attain Enlightenment and read it carefully, taking special note to study the teaching on karma yoga. I think this is the key for you.
~ Sincerely, James
PS: At the same time think more about this shift to the witness position. This is very important. It is a big blessing.