Our days start with a series of phone alarms going off, blaring like the starting gun for the race that lies ahead. A scramble to get through the morning chores to leave home in sufficient time to beat the traffic and make it to the office. The hamster wheel, of course, continues as we are subjected to a daisy-chain of meetings that all blend into one another, and if you’re lucky, some time to grab lunch. It’s almost as if we’ve resigned to the fate that what we seek is certainly not in the present, and in order to achieve it, we must chase after it….
Fresh-eyed and full of purpose, at first we perhaps have some clarity concerning what it is that will make us happy, even if apparently, and therefore we enjoy the resultant chase. And chases are addictive, the thrill and the adrenaline rush mean that they are an exhilarating experience and they become a great way to seek validation of your abilities. We have, after all, descended from hunters, and this experience unlocks this innate tendency that we are all born with. So whether it’s that promotion or that date, we are programmed to constantly chase after things that we think will make us happy.
Give it enough years, and unless you’ve really found what you love, intent gives way to a listless pursuit in service of EMI’s that pay for things that once made us happy, whether it was that luxury watch or the fancy house. And then, even if the realisation that material things can seldom give you sustainable happiness, has dawned upon you, you’re left running a race that you have no interest in winning.
We aren’t, of course, ascetics, which means that so long as we are in this material world, we will be constantly caught between the push and pull of Maya and the detachment that comes from profound life experiences. Born with a bundle of vasanas, or tendencies, the only way to exhaust them is to perform action. What aids us on this slippery path is the awareness that this world is transient, and that everything we do is one aspect of our existence, rather than letting it define us completely. This awareness pre-empts compulsion and attachment, allowing action to become a channel to dissipate our innate desires, thus affording us a greater degree of free will.
So the next time something shiny or new catches your eye, spend some time thinking about the pros and cons, before you decide to go after it. And even if you have perfected the art of pursuit, remember that the best hunters in the animal kingdom only chase when they really have a need!