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You Are the Meaning of Your Life
Jason: Dear Ramji, I’m slowly undergoing new thought processes. It seems I have successfully deconstructed the nagging thought that a relationship will ever bring happiness. It sounds like a simple statement but it’s actually quite a remarkable thing to finally know it. It frees up vast fields of awareness devoted to maintaining the construct of “if only I had a relationship like that.” And in turn prevents untold amounts of useless action as a result of that thought.
But it also gives me mental space to examine my other past activities. What are the thoughts that tied me to the idea of being a musician or a ceremonial person or a writer or whatever? Why does it seem that every action I take is infected with the desire for selfish personal gain? Of course I want a result. But what has been the REAL object I have been after? It dawned on me that my core thought or issue is that I seem obsessed with the idea that my life should have some kind of intrinsic value, meaning, as if I’m here to fulfill some kind of mission that will set me the jiva apart. It’s not the actions that are bad but the driving idea that I am not enough as I am. I must make a difference. I must somehow do some kind of action or sequence of actions that immortalize my temporary stay here and make all my suffering worthwhile.
I notice that the most successful people I know are not so ego-result-driven. They don’t give up on their ideas as often, because they don’t throw everything away the moment it seems they won’t have bronze statues erected in the town square to remember them by. How to deconstruct this thought without totally destroying any and all motivation to act at all in the world?
When I look objectively, my dharma is quite simple really. But somehow I continue to make a big story out of it. It seems like a big rock I’ve been carrying around, looking for a place to rest it, looking for a purpose. But maybe if I could just drop it, I’ll be better off?
James: The “big story” is just the desire to be recognized and loved because you don’t love yourself enough. You think that your life will be meaningful if you are noticed and remembered, so you work your butt off to help people and “make a difference.” This is because you don’t feel that you, meaning existence/awareness, are the cause of everything. It is because of you that life is meaningful. So you ARE the purpose. But when you identify with your limited reflection in the mirror of your consciousness you “become” a meaningless, limited, inert thought, a Jason, that you imagine is conscious. All the actions are calculated to make you meaningful in the minds of others, but the “others” that you want to validate you are just inert thoughts too. So there is no satisfaction, only frustration. You can’t get blood out of a turnip. When we discuss the relationship thing, your point of view is always that relationships are meaningful only because you think they will supply attention, i.e. love. Insofar as Jason is real and you think you are Jason, you need to meditate on the fact that there is only one object of a jiva’s affections – the self. It is for the sake of the self that Jason loves and wants to be loved. It is the same for everyone. The self is you, existence/consciousness. This means that you, existence/awareness, are the content, the meaning, the purpose of everything. There are no “others” involved. “Others” are just the thought of “others” cooked up by maya that reduces the glory that you are into a small vasana bundle and causes you to chase your tail. Nothing but you can validate you.
So although you know you are awareness, you don’t know what it means to be awareness. It means that you are whole and complete and there is only you. If you are whole and complete, the love of apparent others can’t add anything to the love that you are. If you give love to get love, you haven’t understood the simple fact that you are love. Trying to get what you already have is frustrating. You give love because it is your nature, but love is its own reward. It doesn’t need to be loved. There is a statue in a roundabout across from a room I used to live in, and the only use it seems to serve is a good place for dogs to piss on. Every few years, the city sends out a crew to wash it and slap some ridiculous gold paint on it, and when the paint dries the dogs come back and piss on it. The drivers zip around it and and are going too fast to even notice that it is there. Nobody cares about Jason but Jason. When you contact people, they care in the moment when you appear as a thought in their consciousness, and if you are paying attention to them they keep caring until you switch your attention elsewhere, in which case they move on to the next thought that pops into their consciousness, and you cease to exist for them. It’s a sad story for a needy person, but if you look on the upside, it means that you are free to love yourself. As the saying goes, virtue is its own reward.