What is Your Life Strategy?

Many people speak of goals and targets, some deem themselves in possession of strategic thinking. We might have a five-year plan. We might seek a promotion, some rank, a nice house in a good neighborhood, a swish car, a partner and 2.2375 children. Even these plans often go belly up, one only has to look at the divorce statistics for some proof. Now does the outline, this sketch, demonstrate strategic thinking?  Yes, a bit, but only in terms of material criteria. It does not comment on qualities over much. It is not a very adventurous strategy if indeed it is one. It is a version of the common “dream”, the vaunted formula for domestic bliss. We might have a goal to be less stressed and more happy. But it is difficult to manage an acquisitional life without having stress. Stress is a form of suffering and stems from some kind of an ambition. We may negate our “spiritual” sides in favour of the material.

If one must have ambition then how about the ambition to achieve liberation and never incarnate again? That is a strategic goal of some longevity, a whole lifetime plan. No more suffering. No more return, liberation from the wheel of rebirth. The goal of non-returning. Such a strategy will probably be a pan-lifetimes one.

There are a lot of people helping others with the minor details of life, maybe hoping for more abundance, more happiness, better sex and less stress. Few life coaches will aim at getting off the wheel of rebirth. The ambition is limited to material plane endeavour.

Having cued this up, a profound question:

What is my life strategy?

How will I define success?

raison d’être?

What is the raison d’être of your current life?

Not everyone is prone to existential questions for therein can indeed lie existential angst. What is it all for? Why bother living? There has to be more to life than this? What is the meaning and the purpose of it all? What am I doing with my life? Difficult questions, which many fear to ask. Others still, when the have been down the shitter, so to speak, come face to face with questions like these. Maybe they find enough answers or maybe some desire to live simply kicks in and they haul themselves out of the shitter. Maybe later they revisit these questions. Or we can simply put off these questions and like King Canute, keep the tide at bay with pass-times and escapisms.

There is a saying which goes; “an unexamined life is not worth living”. We can also spend vast amount of time examining the fluff from our belly-button. Some kind of balance, is perhaps needed.

Decades can go by whilst we pursue some ambition or other yet when we have made it, gotten to the end of the rainbow, there is no pot of gold. Those bastard Leprechauns were lying, the dream they sold us does not satisfy. We look back and another question rears its head, “was it all worth it, all that struggle, all that effort and stress?” To find that you have been chasing a chimera all along is to be a little disappointed.

Unless you can slow down or stop the world, you are way to dizzy to pause and take stock. But these are our times a whirligig, hectic, frantic mêlée. We are spread so thin and we salivate each time we hear the Pavlovian cue of an incoming email, text or ‘phone call. That Fear Of Missing Out, FOMO, stops us from questioning what it is we are doing and why we are doing it.

If you are afraid to question you won’t get any answers. If you do not seek your chances of finding are much diminished. If you sit back and let it all pass you by, then that is what happens. When your curiosity dies, then slowly so do you. That tendency to remain entirely comfortable is the root of decay.

All those ambitions they can make us miss that which is vital, that which is truly important. Many a relationship dies on the horns of ambition. And when that ambition is met, what then? So long as we keep ultra-busy we never have to ask the most important question.

And here it is:

What is the raison d’être of my current life?

The Jealousy of Devadatta

WHEN Devadatta, the son of Suprabuddha and a brother of Yasodhara, became a disciple, he cherished the hope of attaining the same distinctions and honors as Gotama Siddhattha. Being disappointed in his ambitions, he conceived in his heart a jealous hatred, and, attempting to excel the Perfect One in virtue, he found fault with his regulations and reproved them as too lenient.

Devadatta went to Rajagaha and gained the ear of Ajatasattu, the son of King Bimbisara. And Ajatasattu built a new vihara for Devadatta, and founded a sect whose disciples were pledged to severe rules and self-mortification.

Soon afterwards the Blessed One himself came to Rajagaha and stayed at the Veluvana vihara. Devadatta called on the Blessed One, requesting him to sanction his rules of greater stringency, by which a greater holiness might be procured. “The body,” he said, consists of its thirty-two parts and has no divine attributes. It is conceived in sin and born in corruption. Its attributes are liability to pain and dissolution, for it is impermanent. It is the receptacle of karma which is the curse of our former existences; it is the dwelling place of sin and diseases and its organs constantly discharge disgusting secretions. Its end is death and its goal the charnel house. Such being the condition of the body it behooves us to treat it as a carcass full of abomination and to clothe it in such rags only as have been gathered in cemeteries or upon dung-hills.”

The Blessed One said: “Truly, the body is full of impurity and its end is the charnel house, for it is impermanent and destined to be dissolved into its elements. But being the receptacle of karma, it lies in our power to make it a vessel of truth and not of evil. It is not good to indulge in the pleasures of the body, but neither is it good to neglect our bodily needs and to heap filth upon impurities. The lamp that is not cleansed and not filled with oil will be extinguished, and a body that is unkempt, unwashed, and weakened by penance will not be a fit receptacle for the light of truth. Attend to your body and its needs as you would treat a wound which you care for without loving it. Severe rules will not lead the disciples on the middle path which I have taught. Certainly, no one can be prevented from keeping more stringent rules, if he sees fit to do so but they should not be imposed upon any one, for they are unnecessary.”

Thus the Tathagata refused Devadatta’s proposal; and Devadatta left the Buddha and went into the vihara speaking evil of the Lord’s path of salvation as too lenient and altogether insufficient. When the Blessed One heard of Devadatta’s intrigues, he said: “Among men there is no one who is not blamed. People blame him who sits silent and him who speaks, they also blame the man who preaches the middle path.”

Devadatta instigated Ajatasattu to plot against his father Bimbisara, the king, so that the prince would no longer be subject to him. Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son in a tower, where he died, leaving the kingdom of Magadha to his son Ajatasattu.

The new king listened to the evil advice of Devadatta, and he gave orders to take the life of the Tathagata. However, the murderers sent out to kill the Lord could not perform their wicked deed, and became converted as soon as they saw him and listened to his preaching. The rock hurled down from a precipice upon the great Master split in twain, and the two pieces passed by on either side without doing any harm. Nalagiri, the wild elephant let loose to destroy the Lord, became gentle in his presence; and Ajatasattu, suffering greatly from the pangs of his conscience, went to the Blessed One and sought peace in his distress.

The Blessed One received Ajatasattu kindly and taught him the way of salvation; but Devadatta still tried to become the founder of a religious school of his own. Devadatta did not succeed in his plans and having been abandoned by many of his disciples, he fell sick, and then repented. He entreated those who had remained with him to carry his litter to the Buddha, saying: “Take me, children, take me to him; though I have done evil to him, I am his brother-in-law. For the sake of our relationship the Buddha will save me.” And they obeyed, although reluctantly.

And Devadatta in his impatience to see the Blessed One rose from his litter while his carriers were washing their hands. But his feet burned under him; he sank to the ground; and, having chanted a hymn on the Buddha, died.

———-

BUDDHA, THE GOSPEL
By Paul Carus
Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,
[1894]

Sourced and excerpted at Sacred Texts

Time and Timescales – the moral universe

The previous quotes point at the arc of the moral universe and as a concept this was something Obama was keen on. This arc is not smooth, it oscillates back and forth, in the world of human affairs. No sooner does something happen then there is a reaction to it. We could look at the summer of love and then Gordon Gekko and the eighties. We had the lunacy of the financial crash and bubbles grow and burst all over the place, we had the dot com boom and bust. Most are engaged with the time around now and their desires therein, they may not sense the wider long-term implications, there is a quick-fix mentality. However local expediency can, and often does, come back to bite hard and deep on the ass. Nobody likes extra work and so the apparently easy and expedient is chosen. Anyone suggesting a longer-term solution finds it a very hard sell. And so, we are in band-aid world, where people look for headline grabbing quick fixes, we are constantly sticking plasters on things.

I think it fair to say, that I have a greater sense of long-tern implication than most. I can spot the way some things may pan out. By and large I keep my mouth shut these days because people have not wanted to hear. One simply has to watch the way things pan out and many but not all times, I have made fair predictions. Human nature is sometimes predictable in general direction, if not exact detail. One gets fed up of being “shot” when you bring tidings people do not like. If you like this in itself is a long-term implication of frequently shot at messenger.

I have done a whole life recapitulation, so I can see the passage of time and some of the patterns. I mapped it out with great care. This does provide an overview and the ability to see how things pan out. One can trace causal events and their subsequent sequences.

And this is where humanity is really weird. If one believes in God and/or reincarnation, then we are not being assessed on only a few weeks, we are being assessed over a lifetime. Our patterns don’t go away simply because we deny them, our misdeeds may be covered up from other humans, but not from God or karma. It would then make sense to take a longer-term approach to how we live our lives. If we always go for the expedient, we may not be doing our best. And when we stand in line outside the metaphorical Pearly Gates, the bouncers won’t let us in, because we are not on the guest list. We haven’t earned our place.

I don’t believe that there is a single religion or moral code of ethics that recommends being a greedy person or a sneaky bastard, but many people are. When ambition calls, it is so expedient to conveniently forget. That short-term gain, may not work out in the long run. To use a pecuniary analogy, our investments may not ultimately pay off in the way we imagine. Had we taken a longer-term view, things might be different. We may scoff at artefacts from history where people are buried with a chariot, money and the things needed in the after-life. But when you are immaterial (dead) material things cannot be any use to you, your fame does not keep you warm in the casket and you can’t bribe the bouncers at the Pearly Gates. As you lie there in the hospital ward with a cannula in your wrist, an oxygen tube up your nose, perhaps with a catheter in your cock, all that glory does not seem very glorious after all. Perhaps you get to review how you spent your life. Maybe you go out to the same old justifications, a fanfare of reasons. Who can say?

Sometimes the quick-fix can be very expensive indeed. It might be wise to think about the long-term implications of your actions sooner rather than later.

“the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

And this justice is not the human invention, it is the justice of the moral universe, which is an entire different thing.