Goals, Making Money, Livelihood, and Death

Be Free Now, modified 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 3:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 3:27 PM

Goals, Making Money, Livelihood, and Death

Posts: 61 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
Hi Kalyana Mittas,

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

It's been a bit more than a month since I came off a long retreat.

I moved out of my house to separate myself from family drama. I moved to San Diego and will (at this point) be moving into Sweetwater Zen Center in a few weeks to have community meditation support. Right now, I am in a coffee shop with no idea where I am staying tonight or where my life is heading, for that matter.

No goal that the mind creates stick. I'll find myself goal-oriented for a few hours, and then there is this crash when the clinging to the ideas fade away. There is fear and hesitation to get involved in anything that involves selling or marketing (even though I have been relatively successful at making money in the past), and the thought of death comes up randomly at the weirdest times. It usually comes up when "I" am doing something to move my life in a certain direction e.g. planning, contemplating what planting certain seeds of business will bring into my life, what my life would be if I go into a certain endeavor. It also happens sometimes when I see myself and others having pleasure. It happens when I am not focused on anything meditation-related. It happens when I am searching for work on the internet. Basically this contemplation or thought arising shuts down any goal orientation-movement. I end up losing lots of confidence.

I know this has been brought up in the past, but I seriously don't know what to do. I would like to earn some income quickly (is this a negative thought?). Do I earn income the quickest way possible (starting a tutoring/resume creation service at universities) and not be aligned with my highest ideals, knowing that I am not going to be doing it forever? Or do I continue to look for humble work for a tiny percentage of what I can earn starting my own business with the knowledge that I will not take on any extra responsibility (but it would take longer to pay back the debt)? There is some serious hesitation to move my life in any direction. I don't know if I am ready for responsibility or that I want to be busy all the time, but I also know that I want to pay off some debt as quickly as possible. I find myself shying away from responsibility or position of decision-making.

Could anybody with similar experiences share their thoughts? What the heck do I do? How do I think?
Jake , modified 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 3:50 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 3:50 PM

RE: Goals, Making Money, Livelihood, and Death

Posts: 695 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
My two cents, which you are invited to add heaps of salt to, is simple.

The issue isn't what you do, or what thoughts you have.

The struggles around motivation you are experiencing may simply point to areas where you're constructing an identity-- turning certain thoughts, behaviors, feelings, experiences into a reference point for identification. The thoughts, experiences, plans, pleasure, etc are not the issue at all-- and the thoughts of death coming up perhaps indicate a loosening of the identity.

Does the distinction between identification (relating to experiences thoughts plans etc. as proof of a solid separate 'self') and the experiences themselves make sense to you? If so, I would say, make this identification process the object of investigation rather than getting hung up on these life choices.

People can too easily fall into the trap of re-constructing their identity around counter-habitual activities and surroundings and thoughts, which are just as egoic (false identifications) as the originals. Be careful of this. Make life choices based on practical concerns. If you are getting confused about which are the 'right' thoughts to be having or 'right' lifestyle choices to make, take it as an indication that identification is loosening and now looking for something else to get stuck too-- different thoughts, different behaviors, etc.

Ultimately you could become a deeply compassionate and awakened used car salesman just as or perhaps more easily than deeply awakened and compassionate monastic. Seriously! And since I and many other folks need to buy cars, we would probably appreciate dealing with an awakened and compassionate car salesman. Know what I mean? Obviously this applies to any profession you are likely to undertake; car salesman is just an example emoticon
Be Free Now, modified 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 4:11 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 4:11 PM

RE: Goals, Making Money, Livelihood, and Death

Posts: 61 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
Thank you for responding Jake.

This non-identification IS the cause of not being able to direct my life in ways that the internal societal conditioning is telling me to direct my life, which would lead me to earn income. But I know I need to earn income--that's not a question.

I guess there is just a lot of idealism left in the mind. The idea of being able to be perfectly aligned with the highest good. The idea of being able to forget about myself and give my life to the Dharma.

I don't know. It's just so hard to put effort into "standing out" from the rest of the crowd, after spending so much time in silence and solitude, and realizing that any effort to stand out is bad karma.

Thanks for listening. I am not really looking for answers, just a feeling of support from the community.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 5:05 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/8/13 5:05 PM

RE: Goals, Making Money, Livelihood, and Death

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts

Some of your words ring familiar to me.

The more I have been practicing the more I have realized that there are things I want to do with my life. I might want a delicious meal for lunch. Or to find some fulfilling career. Whatever.

In conventional terms the last year of my life has been quite a flop. Failed at becoming a monk, had a few psychotic breaks, live at home with the parents, don't work, etc.

Yeah, its not glamorous, but its reality. I have something tangible to work with, if I want. Or I can just do nothing and continue to be a irresponsible jerk.
The important part here is being accepting with no I attached in real time. The less one fears (or desires) certain conditions the more one is freed up to be creative in the present moment and live life accordingly. No one else can do it.

So yeah my advice would be to live in the present, find pleasant sensations to enjoy, and do your best to live your life in a way that suits you. This is what I am doing, and it is my hope that one day this will translate into my becoming a more compassionate and skillful person.

And yeah, I didn't used to agree with Daniel when he said skillful insight work does not necessarily equate to being the equivalent of a Mother Teresa or Gandhi (loose paraphrase). At the present, though, I kind of regrettably have to concede his point.