“Could we already be dead?”
“Of course not!”
“How do you know?”
So often we fool ourselves when looking at life.
“I have fourteen years of experience in this field,” the applicant said. He was proud and smiling.
Does he really? Does he have fourteen years of experience, or is it the same first year fourteen times over? Perhaps his job was a bit more complicated and he has two years of experience seven times over. Perhaps there were a few procedural changes every couple of years and some occasional training to help promote the illusion of more experience. That is what happens to most of us.
This applicant might be in a rut. The same is probably true for the person giving the interview. We go to work and do the same thing every day. Some people may fool themselves into believing every day is different. Good for them. But it’s only the faces, outer appearances, and circumstances that change. It’s all for the same goal, all to the same end. Sugar and flour combine into many appearances, such as doughnuts, cookies, muffins, and cakes, but underneath it is still sugar and flour.
At best, it is nine to five. Many do not have it so easy. Many salaried workers do considerably more than forty hours. We get up in the morning, commute to work. Lunch is at about the same time every day. We work more, then commute home. Now we have a few hours of personal time spent mostly on other things needed for survival. Sleep and repeat. Pass “Go” on Friday and get the paycheck deposited to the bank.1
Some may protest. “Well, that is your life. Mine is different!” Others will say, “You got a bad attitude, you can change that situation. A person can move up or change jobs.”
Great. I’m glad you brought that up. What the above means is that if a person jumps through the right hoops, they get a different plot on the same farm.
“What to you mean? I work for a different company now!” Someone protests.
Look at the facts. 1% of the world’s population owns 50% of the wealth and the top 10 % controls 85% of the world’s wealth.2 In the US the top .01% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%.2 So, who are you fooling? The same group owns both plots, It’s the same farm.
“But I own my own business!” Good for you! Now we are getting somewhere. Congratulations, you may be smarter than the rest. Still, let’s ask a few things.
Are you working longer hours? Are you still taking problems home with you? Does the business affect your marriage or relationship with the kids? Are you truly happy? Do you feel satisfaction or has it become something you have to do? Do you suffer from anxiety? Is it affecting your health? Do you sleep well? Do you love what you do? If you pass this test, you are among the few who have truly succeeded. That, however, is a very small percentage of the world. Even being a business owner does not guarantee happiness. Divorce, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, addictions, suicide, and violence hit all social groups.
Most of us simply fool ourselves as the system has trained us to do. We may convince others we are happy and even believe it ourselves most of the time. We put on a mask that all is well, but deep inside something just is not so perfect. Something inside knows it isn’t happy.
Masking things is our way. It is how we were taught, domesticated, indoctrinated, or educated. Education prepares us to be cogs in this huge piece of the machine which is often a sham of a life. We pursue ideas given to us and programmed into us by others. We accept these things as our own values.
It wasn’t our fault. We were young children conforming so we could be loved. Then we were corrupted and exploited, our dreams hijacked and exchanged for an insane world’s ideas of success, security, and conformity.
When the coroner signs our death certificates, often it is just a formality. Most of us died long ago. We are living out a lie, living our programming, but not our lives. Like robots on autopilot, we did as the world instructed and expected.
We were never free. Our overlords told us when we were allowed to take a vacation and for how long. They even dictated what time we could have lunch, and for how long. In some jobs, they even limited when we could use the toilet and how often. Even after work, our lives were controlled by laws, governments, traditions, expectations, insurance stipulations, our employer’s policies, our customers’ expectations, and society’s conventions. They called it freedom, but it was only a myth.3
The solutions are not easy and vary person to person. Once cast into a hole, there are only two things you can do. The first is to put on blinders and keep digging yourself deeper. The second is to dig smartly and build a ramp to get out. Until we admit to the problem, however, it will never be solved.
We can start with small steps. We become aware and then examine our simpler values first. Is mowing the lawn more important than spending time with your child if he wants to play? Is getting the house spotless so important that it is worth ignoring your spouse and children or fighting with them? Are you really too busy to spend some time with the dog after you feed him? What is it that is so important that you cannot? Why? Why do you have the dog? By the way, if he is tied outside, why don’t you bring him inside the house? Don’t you realize your pets can be the most loyal, loving and accepting companions you will ever have?
Is serving society’s implied expectations really more important than your family and pets? What about you? Is what you think you are expected to sacrifice worth living a life full of things you don’t want to do? Why are you trying to impress people you do not know, or do not like, with your status or image?
Keep asking questions. What is important to you? Why is it important? Who told you it is important? Was it your original idea? Or was the idea placed in your mind by parents, teachers, and society? Is the idea serving you or helping you? Does the idea or value bring you peace and joy, or is it draining you of energy, making you edgy or anxious? 4
Finally: What do you want? Have you answered that? Truly answered it? Do you even know? The real answer may surprise you. What do you really want? 5
Question everything you were taught; beliefs, preferences, values, and thoughts. Rethink them for yourself. Perhaps you can’t change most of it, but you can rearrange your perceptions. You can become more aware of what you are doing, more aware of when you are a robot and when you are truly living. You can develop a better outlook and happier life, maybe even actually live! Remember the words of Albert Einstein “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Start slowly. Don’t do anything drastic, but start. Quit redecorating the prison. Find the way out of the prison instead.6 Live your own life, not the world’s idea of what it should be.
1 “Go” is a reference to an American Board game called Monopoly. Every time you circle the board past the initial starting point you are paid $200.
2 The Wealth Inequality figures quoted are backed up by the following:
Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2014/01/23/the-85-richest-people-in-the-world-have-as-much-wealth-as-the-3-5-billion-poorest/#3e50643b1753
Washington post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/01/22/10-startling-facts-about-global-wealth-inequality/?utm_term=.8b7c6664212f
3Refernces from Chögyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom 1976
4 Some of these questions posed in the book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms, by Vishen Lakhiani
5 Question posed by Gangaji in chapter 5 of The Diamond in Your Pocket, 2005
6 Refence to J. Krishnamuriti – Reformers and changers often do nothing but redecorate the prison, often arriving at a solution that is worse than the original problem. Think on These Things, 1964
Gangaji – what do you want?
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