It's been quite a few years since I had the realization that started me on the path of inquiry and meditation.
I remember it pretty clearly. I was at a new job, having moved from a law firm for better opportunities, and I was very much in the mindset of wanting more.
More skills, more money, more authority, more prestige, more power. I was convinced that more would make me happy.
It was making me frantic, until something hit me that was utterly obvious--
There was no end to what I wanted. There was no way that I could ever be happy if I was depending on things, or achievements, or education, because there would always be something else to have or do or get.
I decided at that point that I would pursue the ultimate project, what the books that I had started to read talked about. Enlightenment. Once I had that, then all the other things wouldn't matter, right? And I could finally prove my worth to myself and others. Enlightenment seemed like the most rare and special of all accomplishments. The ultimate trophy.
I suppose that my story is not that different than many others, who are led to a path of inquiry to escape the pain and disappointment of everyday life. And the joke is that there might be more pain, more upheaval, more uncertainty on this path than on most others.
But if the other path is about having more, it seems like this one is about less. We find that those things that we thought we needed we did not. We find that some of our stories are not serving us well, and they fall away. We find we are happier with less and less. With things simply as they are. And that process keeps repeating and reinforcing, a bit at a time.