Are Goals Bad?

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“Are goals bad?”

No.  Desire, desperation…need…for success and reward are the hazard, not goals.

Goals are self-appointed tasks—to sweep the floor, to plant a flower, to clean the toilet—and destinations—to learn to play a piece of music on an instrument, to master a self-expressive art, to design a garden, to create a peaceful, wholesome environment.  

Practically,  to provide yourself and those dependent upon you sustenance through doing requires goals.  

Hazards and pitfalls appear when the goal takes precedence over virtues, when acquiring the returns for a goal achieved becomes the priority rather than the means to fulfilling one’s life needs.

Sharing Lunch

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You’ve prepared yourself lunch — a modest sandwich.  A friend arrives just as you are preparing to sit down to eat.  You ask, “Have you had lunch?”

“No,” they answer, “but please don’t go to any trouble.  I’m fine.”

To make another sandwich, one for them, is a solution.  Better, though, because then they do not feel as if they have caused you more effort, is to simply cut the sandwich gracefully in half, add a piece of fruit to each plate, and sit down and enjoy each other’s company.

Approval, Notice, Regard, Envy

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One of my students has fallen from The Way.  It happened in a mere blink of a moment fourteen months ago.  I let her steep, did nothing.  It was not mine to intervene until she recognized and asked.  It took her fourteen months.


Where she held contentment and self-confidence in herself, where she practiced responsibility for self, she now feels only desperation and resentment.  She seeks approval, regard, accolades.  She desires to be noticed by others, her any action cheered and applauded.  She wishes to be envied for her accomplishments.  Yet, she doesn’t wish to chop wood and carry water…unless the doing brings the accolades and reward.

Embracing laziness (sloth) and greed for reward and praise (lust), cultivating pride, coveting, she reaps the fruits of her mindstate—dissatisfaction and anger…at everyone and everything.  She thirsts, and her thirst cannot be slaked, cannot be quenched, by any water.

I’ve listened.  I watch.

I’ve set her a task.

But she is not so different than the many.

A question, perhaps a test: Can you live in solitude and do, happy in the results of your doing simply in the doing; can you live in solitude and be, happy simply being?