Making a Living
Question: In our world, being successful is linked to making a good living. With fear running rampant in the new realities of our global economic situation, making a good living appears harder and harder to achieve. It seems we need a new definition for "success"!
Answer: Counter to popular opinion, real success is not measured by the amount of our possessions. Simply stated, the truth is that real success -- ultimately the only success -- is determined by how much we are in actual possession of ourselves. And by the light of this great fact of life, we can also see that the person who fears the loss of what he thinks is his success has not truly succeeded. Why is this the truth? The individual who lives with secret self-defining fears is not a self-possessing person but rather a person possessed, often pushed and punished by his fears.
To see the truth of these findings is to realize the need for a whole new way to succeed in life. And to come upon this new order of success calls to us to search out a totally different path through life, a new path we can climb only by calling on a whole new set of higher actions. We can begin our ascent to securing real success with the following new action:
We must begin the inner work of consciously proving to ourselves that there is nothing to fear, instead of allowing our fears to push us into a never-ending series of fearful actions. This suggested new action makes more sense the more we gain insight into our present notion of success; for if we look closely, we can see that contained right within it, although unseen at present, is the fear of failure. The real fear behind this idea of failing is our unconscious fear of losing our familiar, confident sense of self. So, what we must see here, unflinchingly, is this next fact in our study.
As long as what we think of as being our "success" in life harbors the secret fear of our self somehow being diminished by the loss of this same external source, then our sense of self does not belong to us. Under these conditions we are little more than unsuspecting victims subject to every vagrant wind of change that blows through the world of our enterprise… not a very pleasant or promising prospect, is it? Of course not. But it doesn't have to be this way. We can learn life's secret lessons about the nature of real success, and follow them all the way to the Real Life that is their source. So let us begin this inner journey that will take us beyond our fears and our unconsciously fearing self.
Excerpted from Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom
Question: It certainly does relieve stress when you can afford to buy the things you need… but how do you know when you've crossed the line between buying out of necessity and buying to impress or have the latest senseless gadget? At times this line of demarcation is not clear to me. Why is this?
Answer: It is essential that one becomes a good "householder" in this life... which means we are responsible, take care of our daily needs and those we love -- as needed -- and see to it that we always do the best possible work we can wherever we are asked to do that. There is a huge difference between being able to comfortably provide for ourselves, and struggling to achieve an identity from what we can "buy" for ourselves. The clouding of these issues only persists as it does because we have yet to realize that nothing we do on earth can provide for us the security we seek through the things this earth has to offer. As we realize this truth, and walk through the end of "hope in things seen," then we enter into a life in which we work as we do in order to provide a means to continue with our inner work... and not as an end in itself.
Question: For years now I have not been happy with myself because the lifestyle I want to live is not want I am living. I have heard it said that if you are not financially free by the time you are forty or fifty, it does not mean that you are living in the wrong country or the wrong time, it simply means that you have the wrong plan. Any time I think about that idea, I become unhappy because I am not living the lifestyle I want to live. For me to be happy in life is to achieve financial freedom. Can you help?
Answer: In itself, there is nothing wrong with wanting financial freedom, but it isn't what you really want. What you really want is freedom from a mind that torments you every time it compares itself to the lives of others it imagines are happy because of what they possess. Truth be known, these people are possessed by a kind of spirit that can never be satisfied, as evidenced by the fact that there is no end to their appetite for more, and in this cycle is the seed of greed. Seek first freedom from fear and find there, in interior liberty, the fulfillment that only Truth can give. Then, in this new richness, you will be able to do what you really want and, without doubt, be successful there because you have first succeeded as a human being.
Question: I feel betrayed by a world that, in spite of all my hard work at jobs, has kept me from becoming all that I know I could be. Despite all the money I've made over the years, I still feel poor. My mind says the solution is "make more money", or "fight the system," or "be dejected about the way things have turned out"… but none of that seems to make up for what seems to be always lacking. Is it possible I will never feel completely satisfied with my efforts?
Answer: The solutions your mind offers yourself cannot bring you the completion you desire, because the problem does not lie in the state of your finances, or the way your employers have treated you, or the way the government runs things. All your endeavors to fix your problems that are directed toward these areas do nothing to get at the root of your unhappiness.
The pain we feel at any time, no matter what we believe to be the cause, is due only to the fact that we are cut off from knowing our connection with the True Source of our own lives. We do not feel ourselves to be an essential part of the world around us, receiving energy and direction from something higher. Instead, we feel at enmity with life, forced to make our way, to prove ourselves, to provide for ourselves a sense of wholeness and completion. We mistakenly believe that we're cut off from a feeling of well-being we could derive from possessing things. We compound the error by believing that if we could just fill in that gap, we would feel right ourselves.
We're like the poor man who has been invited to stay in the castle of a great king. Not realizing he is a welcome guest, and thinking he must continue to fend for himself, he steals scraps of food from the kitchen, which never satisfy him. His failure to understand his true status prevents him from seeing the huge banquet that is generously spread for him in the dining room, where he can take as much as he wishes. Unable to see the bounty that awaits him, he may even blame the good king for treating him so cruelly!
So what is it that blocks us from seeing the fullness of life that surrounds us on every side?
It is the intimate enemy that first isolates us and that then engages us, continually, on an imaginary battlefield. The false nature immediately jumps in at every new moment to impose its distorted interpretation on every event, to judge in terms of its notion of how things should be. Before anything new or spontaneous in us can experience life directly and understand things in a fresh, new light, something old and mechanical intercedes to protect -- not who we truly are -- but who it perceives itself to be. As each new false sense of self arises, it turns in upon itself to give a sense of wholeness to its momentary, fictitious world; to give itself a sense of completion, and in doing so it cuts us off from Life itself!
As we see more and more how each one of our own attempts to make ourselves feel complete leaves us feeling empty and searching again, we gain the power to refuse to take the false nature's lead. As we do so, the false structure of the self begins to collapse. As each suffocating layer falls away, something real emerges that experiences life in a new way.