A fulfilling job, a fulfilling career, a fulfilling relationship.
We’ve all heard these phrases many times. It’s interesting how they are so much a part of our language and thinking that we seldom really look at them—when we think of fulfillment, these are the kinds of things that we usually imagine. We just naturally tend to assume that when we have the career we really want, or the promotion, or meet a truly compatible partner, or live in a nice house in an upscale neighborhood, or earn a degree, or have more money in the bank, that we will be somehow more satisfied, more content, more fulfilled.
A good life can’t do it
It’s true that often, when we get the thing that we’ve been wanting, it does give us a certain satisfaction. But what we often notice is that the satisfaction tends to fade over time. We feel tremendous excitement and happiness on the first day of our new career, our summer beach holiday, the day we move into that wonderful house, the day we get married. We really enjoy the first bite of that delicious meal. But what we notice is that these satisfactions usually dim as time goes by. The career becomes a job, the house becomes the place where we live, the vacation comes to an end, our partner doesn’t give us all we’d hoped for, and even after a truly delicious meal, we’re hungry again in a few hours.
When we don’t find the lasting satisfaction we expected, what we usually don’t do is question the assumption that these kinds of things should fulfill us.
We imagine that we just didn’t get it quite right the first time around, and we need to try again. If we have conflict with our partner, we might dream of another who will give us what we want. We might move to an even nicer house in an even better neighborhood. We might quit and look for a higher-paid job. We might plan a more expensive vacation for next year. We might make a booking at that incredible new restaurant we just heard about.
I am not saying that here is anything inherently wrong with good careers, nice houses, compatible partners or delicious food. The trouble is that we expect something from them that they actually cannot deliver. They cannot give us true, deep and lasting fulfillment, because it actually has nothing, truly nothing, to do with our possessions, our achievements or our lifestyle.
Presence is true fulfillment
True fulfillment only arises when we are fully in Being, fully in Presence, fully present as our Essential selves.
When we are fully present as Essence, there is a deep inherent contentment, a simple sense that absolutely nothing is lacking and absolutely nothing is missing. There is no desire and no seeking – the very concepts seem foreign. And as we sit in this contentment of Presence, we may find that a state of profound Fulfillment arises.
We find that we actually are the Essence of Fulfillment, a place where we feel not just a sweet contentment, but an actual state of boundless Fulfillment, so fulfilling that it seems light years beyond even the deepest contentment we have ever experienced. Fulfillment permeates every last cell of our body, every tiny atom of our being, and we understand that this is actually the State of True Fulfillment. Our body and soul relaxes deeply, and there is a sense of a soft inner smile. All the usual motivations for doing things drop away completely, and we feel as though we could just sit on our zafu, smiling gently, doing nothing, totally fulfilled, for a thousand years. From this perspective, we see with total clarity that True Fulfillment has no correlation whatsoever with our achievements in the world. It is not something we can earn, or possess, or marry, or find. It is inherent in our Presence, the Essence that we actually are, and only by living in Presence, can we truly know it.
Chasing the wrong rainbows
It becomes clear that we have confused the satisfying of our ego’s instinctual and emotional needs with the satisfaction of our soul.
The ego’s job is to ensure the survival of the body, and the body does need to be fed and sheltered and safe. It needs to have times of play and relaxation, and to connect emotionally with others. It feels a natural, necessary desire for all these things, and a natural sense of satisfaction when they’re attained.
For the ego/body, these things are its fulfillment. The ego, knowing no better, convinces us that its satisfactions will bring us Essential fulfillment. But they cannot provide the deep contentment and satisfaction that all of us seek. They are not the fulfillment of the soul.
The tragedy is that we often spend much of our lives chasing the wrong rainbow, not understanding why our lives are successful but our souls are empty.
I’m not saying that we should not take good care of our bodies, just that we need to be clear that the True Fulfillment of our soul is to live as Essence. When we are able to take our place in the garden of Essence, it’s then that we feel an eternal, indestructible, joyful fulfillment that is beyond all striving and all achievement.
Just Being ourselves, we are Fulfillment.
As my teacher A.H.Almaas says,
This world we live in … (is) neither good nor bad. What makes it a place of suffering is that we are not present in it; what makes it a place of fulfillment is that we are present in it. For fulfillment is nothing but the fullness of our presence. (Diamond Heart Book 4, p34)
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