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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Goals?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Goals

Accomplishing Goals Without Effort

From this perspective, life can be lived as an overflowing, as a spontaneous movement from the now, in which the goal is not something to arrive at. The goal is accomplished without effort; it's a natural flow. Because there is a fullness, the goal manifests as a spontaneous and natural movement from that fullness. Things just seem to flow in a certain direction. The person who isn't living according to goals doesn't need to organize himself rigidly and be strict about how this or that will happen. He doesn't really have to plan much. What happens is a product of his natural process, not a planned activity.

Aiming for Any State of Realization May Block It

So know we have the understanding that taking any condition or any state of realization as an aim can adversely affect our process; the aim can destroy and might actually block it. As long as we have this attitude of trying to influence our experience toward a particular direction – whatever that direction is, and whether it has its source in our childhood, our adult life, our spiritual experience, or a spiritual teaching – we’re going to have difficulty with the dimension of the Point Diamond, because this dimension means hanging loose, simply being without a position.

For the Ego, Goals Bring Meaning Only if they are Supported by the Environment and Relationships

From the perspective of the ego, realization or actualization is the goal you have. And you live your life according to goals, aims and ideals. These ideals might even be unconscious. You may plan to be a doctor, so you devote twenty years of your life to becoming a doctor because you expect your career to give meaning to your life. Or you plan to be a movie star so you spend twenty years pursuing that. People are willing to go through a lot to reach their goals. They go through misery, through poverty, through humiliation, through all kinds of things. Their goal is the most important thing there is, and they believe that if they can’t attain it there is no point to living. What we want to see here is that for the ego those goals or aims give the person a sense of meaning or significance only if their environment and their relationships support them, and let them feel that their goals are important. If you have a goal and everyone around you thinks that it’s not important, then that goal won’t give you meaning. People usually choose goals and aims that are idealized by society. You use all of society to support your sense of meaning.

Goals Block Open-Ended Inquiry

If you have a particular goal, a particular orientation toward what you want to happen, then you’re inquiry is not open ended and most likely you’ll miss the thread. This means that for your inquiry to be open ended – in order for you to find your own thread and follow it – you need to proceed without any particular goal, without any end-stage in mind. You must proceed without believing that any particular state of being or realization or enlightenment should happen. You cannot do inquiry and have the attitude, “I am going to inquire in order to accomplish this state,” even if it happens to be what actually arises when you inquire. The more you inquire from the perspective of a particular end state, the more you make the inquiry into a mental process instead of a real, living one.

Practice Without Goals

Of course, this understanding of practice without goal is bound to be controversial. Even though many teachings talk about not having goals, they still have goals in the sense that they have the state of no-goal as an end. Many teachings hold not having a goal as a particular state or dimension. I am suggesting something different—that not having a goal is not a particular state, not a particular dimension. I mean truly and literally practice with no goal. This could be quite terrifying. “Wow, where am I going to stand? How am I going to orient myself? How is anything going to happen?” But also it ushers in an unprecedented kind of liberation and freedom. For a long time we say that we are inquiring because we love the truth for its own sake. But at some point, we are inquiring not because we love the truth but because it is natural to inquire, it is natural to practice—inquiry is simply what Being does. Being practices. Living Being naturally lives and manifests without motivation or goal, without point of origin or point of destination. Being lives, and lives its possibilities, and lives its possibilities consciously as practice—practice that is ceaseless and goalless. Practice simply expresses realization and continues to express realization, where realization is the self-revelation of true nature. The practice that is realization becomes the action of realization, becomes the way we live and express the possibilities of realization. And the practice that is realization is free from the need to end in any particular condition.

Practicing with No Goal

So the deeper understanding of practice and realization in our work is that we don’t posit an end state. There is no state in which we are going to reach an end. This is another understanding of no goal. In one sense, not having a goal means you don’t know where you are going next because Being itself doesn’t have a goal, is not directed in that way. But also, in another sense, practicing with no goal means that even Being itself is not seen as the goal. We don’t posit presence or true nature as a goal for practice. This is a subtle point. Many of you are thinking, “Yes, right, of course. Now we are getting to a subtle way of practicing where we let go of true nature as our goal, because that is the best way to reach true nature.” Although there is some truth to that, it is not completely true. Regardless of what you have experienced of true nature, regardless of what you understand of true nature, true nature will manifest itself in ways you have never known, in ways you could never imagine. So the moment you have a goal, no matter what it is, the moment you conceptualize it, the moment you know it, true nature will go beyond all of that.

The Drive for Meaning by Pursuing Goals May Numb the Drive Itself

Those who deal with the drive for meaning by pursuing various goals and activities are actually also numbing the drive, by believing that they are fulfilling it or engaged in fulfilling it. The activities through which we seek meaning are usually very hard to let go of, because our deep need to have something to think about, something to do, becomes as intense as the drive itself. Some people worry all the time, because they can’t stand the feeling that they wouldn’t know what to do if the activity stopped. As long as we have a goal, even something like wanting to heal an ache in the body, there is meaning in our lives. The meaning of my life might consist of trying to fix my hurt knee. Some people look for the meaning of their lives in their children. Many mothers can’t find meaning in their own lives so they try to live through their children. You see how pervasive this issue is. Even when we are engaged in activities that give us real pleasure and joy, we are always hoping that they will also give meaning and importance to our lives. You believe that if you live in a certain way, your life will not be empty. Perhaps you feel that if you really confront the meaninglessness and emptiness, it might be too much to bear. And it is true that we cannot live without meaning in our lives, without a sense of significance, of worth, value, and importance. So we try to find substitutes for it.

True Life is Rooted in Reality

We see that ultimately the true life is an aimless life; aimless not in a sense that it's just drifting along with no significance, but that it is rooted in reality. It is so rooted in reality that it doesn't need an aim. It has already attained the aim of all aims. This perspective can help you to see that you need to question your goals and what you want from them. Are you wasting your life trying to achieve a goal that is a compensation for a deficiency you feel? Or is your goal an expression of who you are?

Two Ways of Living with Regard to Goals

Generally speaking, there are two ways of living with regard to goals. One of them is being motivated by pursuing certain goals; this is the usual way people live in our society. The goals can be anything—to become a basketball star, a musician, or President; or to become rich, secure, famous, enlightened, or whatever. Generally, people cannot live without goals, because without goals, they feel aimless and lacking in meaning or significance in their lives. Without goals they often feel they have no orientation, and most individuals cannot tolerate this feeling. People often decide on certain goals very early in childhood. These goals are largely determined by what we call the “ego ideal.” For the normal personality, the ultimate goal is the realization of the ego ideal—to become your ideal, whatever it might be. The problem is that when you are trying to reach a goal, you are separating yourself from your present reality.............
A second way is to live in the present, to be who you are at the moment, as a completeness and a fullness. This means actualizing who you are. At any moment you are who you are, and there is no need to be anything or to go anywhere. It is because you are not who you are that you want to be something, and you create all these goals and aims. Because who you are is missing, you have no true direction; your life feels meaningless, insignificant, with no value and no orientation. You attempt to fill this deficiency with goals and ideals and aims in order to create a sense of significance, meaning, fullness, importance, orientation, direction. However, when you let yourself be who you are instead of trying to be something different, you experience everything in your life as significant and important without even thinking of things as significant and important, by virtue of just being, just living. This kind of living does not exclude goals. A person living in the present can have goals, but the goals are not to be something; the goals are an expression and the result of who the person is at the moment. The person is already fulfilled, and that fulfillment can then manifest as certain goals.

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