Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Trouble with Goals

In many cases, goals are helpful and even necessary. Goals help us focus at work and in our personal life. They can help us learn a new skill, and evaluate how we are doing. They can provide useful tests of where we are, and how much further we have to go. They can serve as milestones--getting a degree, finishing a project, getting a promotion.

When what we are trying to do is open to uncontrived awareness, though, goals are worse than useless. They can actually be harmful.

As soon as we ask "is this it?" we can be pretty sure that we are in a space of evaluation and constructing and cognition. Awareness is beyond and before thought. Awareness is the container, if you will, in which everything arises. Asking thought to evaluate awareness is like asking the wave to evaluate the ocean, or the blue to evaluate the sky.

There is nothing wrong with having goals, or expectations. Just notice that an expectation is a sense that is something is missing right now, that whatever it is, it can't happen until another time, in the future, when things are different. And a goal makes that something missing definitive. If it weren't missing, you wouldn't need the goal.

But without that thought that something is missing, can you find anything missing? Without the list of goals, is there anything left to be done?


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