by David B. Wolf
“What’s wrong with striving for material comforts and affluence, like a big house, a boat, or the car of my dreams?” This question was posed towards the close of a personal transformation seminar.
“Why would you endeavor for such things?” I responded. The ensuing conversation revealed that amenities such as those mentioned, as well as other tangible attainments such as a position in an organization, fashionable clothes, and a healthy bank account, were commonly sought to achieve experiences such as security, power, self-confidence and a sense of personal value.
A Weak Position
I commented that this sounds like a weak position. The essential message is “I am not intrinsically a secure, confident, valuable person. To experience strength, worthiness and specialness I need various external trimmings.” This consciousness indicates lack of essential faith in oneself.
Genuine faith in self is apparent in a lifeview that starts with being rather than having. This approach to existence knows that to experience fulfillment, contentment, joy and vitality, I don’t need to do or have anything. I am inherently fulfilled, content, joyful and vital.
Chasing Security And Happiness
It’s not that there isn’t activity, accomplishment and acquisition in the be-do-have paradigm. In fact, when living from being, my doing and having are imbued with potency, because they flow organically from my being. They are not separate endeavors, contrivances to obtain from the outside what already exists inside. Naturally if I am being the vibrant, trusting and confident person that I am, I will do what vibrant, trusting and confident people do, and have what they have, such as a life of adventure, satisfying relationships, and abundance. In be-do-have we live the truth that wealth is not about having more; it is about needing less. We choose security and happiness; we don’t chase security and happiness.
Reflection on our approach to life- for example have-do-be, or be-do-have- points to where our faith lies- in our spiritual essence, or in external objects and symbols. From a place of being we might acquire such objects or symbols, from choice and inspiration, not from need and fear.
Faith Is Inescapable
Our nature is to have faith, and how we live reflects where we place our faith. When we turn the ignition we display faith that there is not a bomb wired to the car. Each element of our lifestyle- e.g., diet, recreation, financial management, spiritual practice or lack of it- shows our faith, what we believe will provide us a life of fulfillment and happiness.
Our choice is where to place our faith, and we can consider this question with respect to inner being or external having. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna exhorts Arjuna to “Be transcendental…be without anxiety…and be established in the self,” indicating that for a contented and fulfilled life, living from our transcendent spiritual core is the most reasonable choice. Epictetus said “The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.” Such teachings move us to live from being, trusting that the externals will come my way; and even if that doesn’t happen according to my plan, I’ll be okay, and more than okay, because my security and value is a function only of what can never be destroyed. That is a worthy place for faith.