The ability to prioritize grants good prospects to achieve whatever one wants to achieve in life. Without this ability one will lose sight of one’s goals over and over again and, thus, often moves in circles. The clearer the internal alignment and the fewer aims there are, the higher the likelihood to achieve one’s goals. Those, however, who are convinced that they will not achieve their „single and utmost goal“ are well-advised to check once more to find out which other priorities are in the way. For, if there is really and truly only one goal left in life, there is no way not to achieve it – no matter in which area.
The readers of these essays will have diverging goals and varying priorities. However, one goal is common to all of them: they want to be free of their identification with what they are not, i.e. they want moksha (enlightenment). The same is true for this epistemic goal as for all other goals: Only those for whom it has the highest priority will get there.
Interestingly enough, in the Western spiritual scene it is thought to be completely fine to set goals provided they are secular. Everything is allowed to be one’s goal, a journey, success in one’s career, a good relationship, health. Just one thing should not be a goal: moksha – because for many Western seekers enlightenment “should come all by itself”; here it is commonly accepted that those who aim at it are bound to fail.
Sometimes this is just a cop-out in order to not needlessly burden oneself with something that anyway is beyond one’s understanding. In any case, the aim moksha has almost turned into a taboo. There are some who justify not bothering with moksha by the fact that everyone is already enlightened anyway.
Such reasoning, however, only applies to those who really do know this. Those who do not really know that they are free from all and one with all, still lack the ultimate knowledge. And those who lack it even though they want it, need to take care of attaining it. Since, as it has not come about all by itself so far, why should it do so now, all of a sudden?
But particularly in the spiritual scene (to which most readers of these essays belong), the belief in the miracle of enlightenment that strikes one like lightening out of the blue dies hard.
It is true, moksha is not the result of anything; the struggle to gain the understanding does not produce moksha. But seeking moksha transforms the mind. Likewise the mind is transformed by the priorities we have. For example, the mind of those who pursue aims that again and again turn out to be unsustainable (security, well-being, a good conscience), such a mind will not come to a rest.
But working on understanding makes the mind increasingly clearer and quieter. A cleared and quiet mind will get more and more in tune with what truly is. And if – in addition – it knows that that with which it gets in tune is its true nature then – at some blessed point of time – it will surrender to the knowledge of its true nature along with all remaining identifications. From then on there is no more separation between the mind and the real true nature: the person is free of the identification with what he is not; there is moksha.
The most important key to attaining moksha is the priority “moksha”; that’s why it is a good idea to keep a keen eye on one’s own priority-list. The question „Why am I not enlightened yet?!“ mostly finds its answer with a look at this list where moksha withers away as an also-ran.
No seeker of truth wants to kid himself about his priorities, simply because he does want to complete the journey. It is a fact, though, that one does not necessarily know about one’s true priorities. Below I’d like to give some suggestions that may help to gain more clarity about one’s priorities.
First of all it helps to understand that there are several reasons, why moksha does not rate higher on one’s list of priorities:
And should moksha (despite the lack of enlightenment) be on top of the list, a misjudgement is given: there is at least one blind spot, one unrecognized goal, which ranks higher than moksha and still needs to be identified.
What we perceive as duty first of all needs to be properly analysed. There are duties, which must be fulfilled. In this respect the particular stage in one’s life matters, see Essay Aging. Many people, however, use duties as an excuse or they are masters in swiftly creating several more duties as soon as one duty is fulfilled.
In fact there is always something else that one may call duty, something that supposedly needs to be fulfilled but which actually belongs to the following three points (fear, greed or habit). To gain more clarity in this respect, an honest self-introspection is needed which one probably attains best in a conversation with someone not involved but trusted.
Fears make our life terribly complex, because those who are afraid are constantly occupied with securing measures. This can keep them busy to such an extent that there is no time left for higher aims. Also, hidden behind every fear is the fear to die because every fear is, in the end, fear of death. And as death cannot be defeated, no matter how much one tries, the endeavour to be safe will never come to an end.
Fearful seekers of Truth mostly hope that moksha will sort out the fear problem. Even though it is correct that with moksha all fears dry up. But it is also correct that fearful people must first of all deal with their fears, because their true priority is called “ensure security” and not “moksha”.
Greed is the basic vein of the consumer society, hence, in this part of the world, it is the chief motive which puts moksha to one of the last positions. Those who want to own or experience always more and who want to always replace the old with the new, will never have enough energy, space and time for the search for moksha. And because in our world there is an apparently inexhaustible surplus and because the economy musters everything to put their products in circulation, the seeker of Truth must be very alert to be able to get out of the hamster’s wheel of consumption. Meanwhile the omnipresent consumption has extended to the emotional, mental and spiritual areas. The basic problem: It never is enough – not enough possession, not enough emotional satisfaction, not enough information and not enough spiritual experiences.
Also, another aspect of greed is that seekers of Truth are often taken by the illusion that “greed” will be taken care of automatically by enlightenment; hence, until enlightenment one should make for “doing oneself well”. Even though it is correct that with moksha all greed dries up, it is as correct that people driven by greed must, first of all, take care to leave behind their greed because their true priority is called „More!“ and not moksha. Secondly, there is a difference between “doing oneself well” and greed. Every seeker of truth may do himself well. But fact is that only those seekers progress who lead a simple life and are not constantly on the hunt for something better.
Habits are usually based on one’s upbringing, adaptation to the status quo and/or comfort. The aim moksha, enlightenment, does not exist in Western thinking and there is nothing in our culture that would remind us every once in a while of this aim, as, for example, in India or in Buddhist countries. Thus we are requested to invite this aim on our own responsibility into our lives. Otherwise it is left out and will never make it to even the lowest ranks of our list of priorities.
What can one do?
If moksha ranges in the top area of one’s list of priorities chances for moksha are highest. For all those who find that this is not the case it is advisable to adopt an approach along two different lines: on the one hand it is a matter of finding the causes for the lack of the priority of moksha and of consequently removing those causes or at least of reducing them. Secondly, it is a matter of actively nurturing the longing for moksha, because once this desire is stronger, the other priorities will lose their weight. How does one nurture the longing for moksha?
It is extremely motivating to read about people who sought and found moksha. Everything written about advaita supports too. These essays, for example, are or can be a basic way of proceeding. Who would want suggestions, is welcome to contact me for further sources. Some rather refers to modern western sources, while others prefer Indian Vedanta teachers and again others like Buddhist approaches (about the latter, however, I do not know much).
What else nurtures the longing? I had mentioned above that in our culture there is nothing to create and support this longing. But one can create aids: by pictures or symbols – in the flat, in the car, in the office. Indeed to start, with one must renew these figures/symbols regularly and they should fill one with joy; otherwise one starts to overlook them after a short while.
Most important is the company of like-minded people and, in the best case, talks with a spiritual teacher. If you are constantly surrounded by people who are not interested in the realization of the highest truth, your search runs danger to die of malnutrition. Nowadays, even if one does not know anyone with whom one can communicate about spiritual questions, one is able to find suitable forums in the Internet. (You are also always welcome to turn to me.)
Also, a small daily ritual is helpful. For example, one can start the day with a short meditation: recollecting the fact that enlightenment is possible even for oneself, if only one considers it important enough to give the search for it an adequate place in life. It could go like this: „Moksha is my birth right. The more important moksha is and the more space and time I allow for my search, the higher rises the likelihood for moksha to be attained.“
Other supportive measures are meditation, yoga, prayer, being in nature etc.
Or one makes it a habit to check one’s internal list of priorities once a month. It is enough to determine the first three positions. If moksha is not amongst them, one can briefly examine whether it is to be found in the upper or rather in the lower area of the list. One should not take a middle area into consideration. There is no need as yet to take actions after the stock-taking, just to regularly face the facts will make for a positive effect in due course.