A Problem With Goals

E. Raymond Rock

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When we set a goal, we force our mind to follow certain preset patterns. Our minds are very intelligent, and forcing our minds to follow set patterns means that we restrict the mind with very narrow boundaries. This cripples the mind from its normal, unrestricted nature, which is the nature to investigate constantly. This means that we would naturally investigate the goal, itself, if we allowed our minds to do their natural thing. Therefore, goal setting gets in the way of a natural, deeper creativity. We become mechanical.

Rather than blindly follow a goal, regardless of how lofty it may be, the mind should be free to see all possibilities. Once it is restricted and programmed to follow a set course, it will do so at the expense of seeing reality, a reality that appears and changes moment to moment. We give up the spontaneity of this moment, where life is truly lived, for concepts and theories. We are no longer “street smart, " we become academic, and subsequently caught up in suppositions and abstractions.

When the mind is unrestricted in its activities, free of fear or the quest for security, then there is the possibility of constant creativeness. When the mind restricts itself, there is only mechanical movement so mundanely apparent. Therefore, the setting of a goal may be creative, but the efforts to acquire that goal or follow a goal, or try to get to a goal; these will be not creative.

We may be spend one percent of our time in creating a goal and ninety-nine percent of our time trying to achieve that goal, which is ninety-nine percent of uncreative activity. Some goals that we set last a lifetime, and are never reevaluated. We fall fast asleep. We no longer investigate, and when we no longer investigate, we blind ourselves, and then we go down the same paths humanity has gone down since the beginning of civilization, paths of greed, hatred, illusions . . . and war.

There is a better way. The better way is to be awake all of the time, every moment. Living in the world requires goals; eating, working, raising families, these all require planning. We don’t eat our seed corn or become surprised when spring comes along and forget to plant our rice. This is all part of life. But to set psychological goals to escape boredom, or for no reason other than pleasure or a lack of security, rob us of the only security — our inherent spirituality. Here, goals simply get in the way of the ultimate creativity, the creativity that truly frees us from our bondage, from ourselves.

Copyright © E. Raymond Rock 2007. All rights reserved

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center (SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com ). His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers (http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com ).


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