If someone should ask you, ‘What are you living for,’ how would you respond? That is, what is your goal or your objective in life? In What Are You Living For, we learn that everyone is living for something, whether it is power, pleasure or prestige. As believers, we are to live selflessly, motivated by the love of Christ!(InTouch).
What SHOULD a person be living for?
What really should a person be living for? A person should be living for the benefit of OTHERS, for God’s sake! A person should be living for love’s sake. A person should be living as an extension of Divinity. Perhaps that sounds like a bit of religious dogma, but actually it is a straightforward description of the enlightened life. And enlightenment transcends religions and dogmas of all kinds.
Ultimately, we need to be bigger than the motive for personal pain relief. We should not live merely to escape the pain and frustration of our life experience; we should not seek merely to create, within this maddening and miserable world, some sort of personal oasis, a release from the challenges of being here now.
That does not mean that we should not be problem solvers; we should creatively interact with the arising difficulties day by day. We should be committed to live and love THROUGH the pain and difficulty of doing so — and engage in that creative struggle for reasons that are not selfish.
Enlightened living is not a pattern of systematic avoidance of difficulty. Nor does enlightenment signal the end of difficulty. Instead of running away from life, the reality of enlightenment is to be connected to all things. If anything, that connection will INCREASE our awareness of many difficulties of which we are now unaware.
A spiritual disciple asked his teacher, “What type of a God would have created all this difficulty? What type of God would have created a place like this earth, and people like ourselves?” The teacher replied, “The type of God that we HAVE. There’s your answer. Now what are you going to do about it?”
Apparently, there is a PURPOSE for this madness, for this difficulty, for the frustration here. The purpose is to arrive at an orientation within the difficulties of living that is a not, in itself, ultimately problematic, “selfed,” or self referential. The purpose is to effectively transcend the cramp of one’s own reactions, to transcend one’s own plans and purposes, to release the selfish orientation, the lower motives, the base and egoic proclivities — and thereby become enlightened.
No relief in sight!
The enlightened life is not a utopian realization — a happy la-la land that is somehow idealized, de-clawed, and stripped of the endless challenges of loving. Likewise, love is no opiate, and unity offers no insulation. God’s plan for human life is that human beings should live as love, but that plan does not imply or promise that human beings will thereby escape all the difficulties of life, or be incredibly gratified, or have it all come up roses in some way. There is no relief in sight, and the clearer your spiritual vision grows, the more obvious that becomes.
If enlightenment sounds like the opposite of the selfish solution to life you’ve been seeking, you’re right — it IS. From the point of view of the ego, it is really no solution at all. How positively GRAND! To put it bluntly, the life of love does not in any way extend the strategies of the ego — or further the desires of the ego, or implement the plans and purposes of ego. The only enlightened life is a life of living sacrifice, and there IS no relief for the ego in entering into a life of sacrifice.
A sacrifice, not a gain device
Love requires nothing less than the living and literal sacrifice of the body-mind, without self concern or self-interest, in a world which remains difficult, frustrating, and challenging. As a lover, you are not stinting or self-protective in that sacrifice, and you are not calculating, because cost is not really an object. Whatever you are doing, you are really doing it to further other people. That is what you are living for, and what you should be living for, as a lover. And that’s WHY you are free to do what love requires of you.
When you take the enlightened position in life, your body becomes an answer to this prayer: “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace . . .” It becomes a gift. It becomes usable. All its functions can be turned into gifts in a real sense — SINCERE gifts, gifts given for reasons that are truly altruistic, not as part of a personal plan for selfish gain.
Until enlightenment dawns, your life is nothing but an effort to beat the system, a system that is unbeatable. You are only bashing your head against the wall at every moment — trying, paradoxically, to gain relief. It’s a bloody mess!
After enlightenment is achieved, there may not be much gain in anything the ego would want. Some things may change, but the only significant difference is that you yourself are enlightened in the middle of it all, because you have become a sacrifice, not a gain device. That is the real difference.
Will it do ME good to be good?
Perhaps — a loving, serviceful life is undoubtedly fulfilling. Yet if you were good, would personal benefit be your primary concern?
Example: Imagine two brilliant intellectuals, both of whom work for the same Think Tank, and both of whom draw the same high salary. And yet, there is an important difference between them: One of them is in it for the money, while the other one is in it for the creative nature of the work.
Clearly, reward and motivation are distinctly separate elements. Getting the money and being in it for the money are two different things.
People are free to wonder, “If I live the life Divine will I get mine?” But if you are in it primarily to get yours, then you are not living the life Divine in the first place. Obviously, you do not become a true lover just because you realize that loving people spend less time in the doghouse than unloving people. You do not become truly altruistic just because you realize that altruistic people get the chicks or the guys. You do not achieve spiritual heights for egoic reasons. Those are CONTRADICTIONS. And if those are your motivations, you are living a life which is fundamentally selfish. The rewards of a truly loving life cannot possibly accrue to you if the primary reason you are doing it is to get yours.
A fundamental change, for a change
The single question, “Why am I doing this?” should be applied to every single activity, plan, strategy, action, thought, word, and deed, no matter whether it seems to be sublime and virtuous or grotesque — even when it seems to be ordinary, mediocre. Whatever you are doing, honestly ask yourself, “What is my essential reason for being here? Why exactly am I doing this? What am I really living for?”
Then honestly evaluate your answer. A person who is unwilling to admit what’s wrong with an essentially selfish life does not see the forest for the trees. Wake up! See it! This is coming to consciousness.
Some day, there must be a fundamental change; a shift in the essential motive. Until and unless you are willing to make the necessary corrections at the root, nothing can be different — everything remains the same. If you can see that, you stand to gain relief from the cramp of the guilt, the pain, and the madness of constant selfness, from the constant reacting and acting out of selfishness. That relief is available. That relief is real. But mind you, though such relief is achievable, it can never be achieved as the result of selfish purpose.
And that, my dear friends, is life’s finest and most perfect catch-twenty-two.
(The Living Love Fellowship)