To any interested in development work of any kind,
I think we all at some point in our life ask ourselves questions. Why do we do what we do? What difference are we making? Why do we want to make a difference?
Between The Ego and Your Beneficiary
On the path of desire to make a difference, there is one distinction we must make. There is a difference between: ‘This is my accomplishment‘ and ‘This is their accomplishment‘. There is a difference between One of my life goals is to build a hospital in Afghanistan AND Nangarhar province needs a hospital, what can I do? The former act originates from YOU. The latter act originates from THEM. When you remove the ego from the equation, not only are the intentions different but the impact is different as well. The impact is actually even greater. When you remove your fulfillment, then it becomes about their fulfillment, and when that is reached, a difference is made. Actually this is an issue that is being stressed by 3rd world development writers to donor communities. The accusation made against donor communities is when they move into developing countries, they set up projects without first consulting the local people to identify their needs or allowing the local people to influence those projects. Donor communities have their own goals, their own accomplishments to fulfill (out of ego) and sometimes these goals do not correspond to the needs of their beneficiaries.
Between Doing and Being
Being: You can be a source of compassion for others; in that being everything operates in the moment because the ‘being’ does not rely on past grievances/happiness and do not rely on future outcomes. The being is always in the present, always operating in the now.
Doing: You can do compassion, by planning and then executing an act of compassion. In that planning there are always reasons and outcomes. I am doing this because abc and these are the outcomes I am aiming for xyz. The doing will always reach out into the past and project into the future. The doing doesn’t operate in the now.
The overlap: Of course from Being, you will end up ‘doing’. But the difference in this case is that the doing originates from the source of being. So the intentions or the state of affair is completely different and can have a huge weigh on the impact of your doing. [Please do not allow my language (way of description) affect the depth of this concept]
There is no doubt that we seek satisfaction from what we do; our satisfaction is our reward. It is true no act is completely selfless (not even getting stung by a bee – Phoebe from Friends ;). But I found an explanation by Hazrat Samuel Lewis, follower of Hazrat Inayat Khan. He says ‘satisfaction cannot arise out of any particular thing, rather satisfaction only comes from the Pleroma, the totality of thing-ness, not from things themselves’. What do you make out of this? It may be that you know what it means but are unable to paraphrase it in words.
Everyone’s path is for themselves; let them accomplish their desires that they may thus be able to rise above them to the eternal goal.
We have desires to make a difference, to make a change – but our path is to rise above our desires to reach the eternal goal. This is simply being aware of present thoughts, feelings and doings and re-locating yourself every time you know your ego is taking over. This re-location can be as quick as a second.
Commentary by Hazrat Samuel L. Lewis:
Every soul on the journey toward manifestation selects certain qualities out of the Empyrean, so to speak, which form the nexus of his later desire. This is the seed of his nature and it is through the development of personality — not its suppression — that the fulfillment of the involution and evolution is accomplished. As the very nature of desire was born out of unfulfilled love, it is not proper to crush this desire entirely — to transmute it is the right procedure.
From one point of view all desire is crushed, but from another point of view this is not so. What is necessary is to demonstrate through life itself that satisfaction cannot arise out of any particular thing, rather that satisfaction only comes from the Pleroma, the totality of thing-ness, not from the things themselves. And what is this Pleroma? It is nothing but an aspect of God, the aspect which satisfies every soul.