Author Topic: Worldly success and the path - are they compatible?  (Read 2090 times)


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Worldly success and the path - are they compatible?
« on: September 13, 2016, 06:59:25 AM »
Hello all. As I have received great instruction and knowledge from this forum, I thought I would pose a philosophical inquiry of sorts to everyone.

I am at a crossroads in my life and have recently come out of a period of great darkness and despair. I am thinking of what it is I shall direct my efforts to next and well...I guess, what is the meaning of life? :)

I think that this is something that everyone wonders about to some degree. One thing that I have always found contradictory about the Dharma and modern society is that the former tells you to be content with what you have, and the latter seems highly preoccupied with form, which is by nature transient.

I have been unemployed and out of school for a long period of time (10+ years) and to be completely honest, I would like to earn some money, as well as do "normal" things, like be in a relationship (I have only recently been able to admit that I am kind of lonely)

In short, I am contemplating what truly is success, and what it means to me. I have read many stories and seen many people and definitely, fame and money are often overrated. But yet I do wish to be successful, whatever that is!

I do believe that I am already successful in many ways, having survived multiple near-death experiences and brushes with madness (long story) How does one live in this world, seeking success, and yet be unattached? It is something that I have trouble understanding at times. I do not believe I am ready to become a renunciate (nor do I think that that might be the right course of action!)

The Bible says "be in this world, but not of it" - which seems to tally with a lot of what the suttas say as well.

I welcome any thoughts on this matter.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Worldly success and the path - are they compatible?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2016, 09:04:26 AM »
Always endeavour to be the best version of yourself and the universe should provide more than what you need.


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Re: Worldly success and the path - are they compatible?
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2016, 05:03:22 PM »
Cyath, I completely understand your struggle and wrestle with it often.  I love the advice by Dharmic Tui and agree with it wholeheartedly.

While in theory I understand that the way to a "successful" life is to focus on doing our best in each moment and letting go of the rest, I do find that when I try to do this, there is a part of me that is profoundly resistant.

For me, the part that resists must be looked at with tremendous curiosity and respect.  To speak from my own experience, I developed a need to achieve and plan and set goals at a very young age in order to feel seen and heard in a large, anxious family.  So now as I experience being content with what I have, there is so much fear.  Fear that my life won't have meaning.  That I won't be loved.  That the things that are really worthwhile in life will be beyond me unless I fight really hard for them.

The antidote for this fear, for me, is the buddha, the dharma, the sangha.  Buddha's story showed that all the riches in the world did not come close to the peace he was able to discover within himself.  Once he touched this deep place of wisdom, it just flowed out to help others.  We all have buddha nature, so if we can learn to touch the wisdom and compassion within ourselves, there will be no greater success as it will also help those around us. 

The dharma reminds me that this drive for external achievement is fruitless.  I love reading Pema Chodron, and other authors who have been so apt at describing the teachings in ways that hit home, that remind me that just by being here, as a human being, just as I am, I am valuable.  No further achievement required. 

The third, the sangha.  I see people who followed this path but also have great success in their relationships, their work, their life.  Those "material" things that we all hope for.  And as I speak to them, or even read their posts here, I see that it is true, when I can relax and befriend myself, it will become so much easier to find the right relationship, the right job, the right life.  Opportunities will present themselves, and if we are open we can choose to embark upon them.

When I started meditating I asked my teacher how I could reconcile wanting to be married with the path.  I was single at the time.  Little did I know that the work I did on relinquishing my fears and attachments in relationships was actually exactly what I needed to be in a healthy relationship.

In my perspective, the meaning of life is simply to engage fully with it, with yourself, with your situation just as it is, bringing love and compassion to the whole of it.  Slowly slowly, things open and shift... on their own time, in their own way.  As we see it happen in our own lives, we begin to trust it more and more.

Much metta,
"You are the Sky.  Everything else is just the weather." - Pema Chodron


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Re: Worldly success and the path - are they compatible?
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2016, 07:43:35 PM »
I have probably lived around 50% of my adult (post-student) life living in the world. (I had a physical injury/accident that brought me back to 'the world'). If I have a job, I always try to do it well out of personal integrity & fulfilling that employment/social relationship. As for personal relationships, although I have been single for all of my adult (post-student) life, whatever kind of social interaction I am involved in, I try to focus on non-harming & meeting the needs of the other person (without sacrificing my own needs or principles, which isn't always easy to do, particularly in the employment situation). Apart from that, I can't help that much because I have never sought worldly success. Instead, whatever basic needs I have, I try to fulfil them. However by practising what I mentioned above, things have kind of fallen into place worldly wise (i.e. economically). I suppose I have to also agree with what Dharmic Tui posted.

Kind regards


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Re: Worldly success and the path - are they compatible?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2016, 11:59:17 PM »
One thing that i find remarkable is that the more you are unattached, the more you are successful.
It is just like if life become more seducing, when you tend to detach yourself.
But i am really aware of all unpredictable issues that can happen in life. We don't know what will happen next.
So, i believe the best thing i can do is to pacify mind here and now.
I believe that the aim of life is to get peace of mind. It is my main project, the center of my life.
I am aware that this can seem a little dogmatic  :D
« Last Edit: September 14, 2016, 12:01:03 AM by Laurent »


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Re: Worldly success and the path - are they compatible?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2016, 01:46:53 AM »
Thank you all for your replies, they are all valuable and no, I do not find it dogmatic at all!

I think in the past it has been difficult for me to let go and accept, and I have struggled hard with things that now come a lot more easily. It seems strange that sometimes when we do not fight and do not "try hard" it actually becomes easier. Many times it has seemed that "just letting go" and "letting things happen" have been false and "cop-outs" but I have discovered that maybe that is exactly what I need to do!

I agree that being unattached is the way to go (even if the human mind constantly seeks to attach itself to things...) Treating yourself with love and compassion I think is perhaps the most important thing of all.


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