sawwra asked:Are goals the same as desires. Should we not have goals? Or how does that work?
A goal is a mental concept that bridges the abstraction of mind and the practicality of daily life. By setting a goal, we exercise imagination to contemplate potential futures and then actualize them in the present.
There is nothing wrong with this. Learning to make goals and fulfill them is a skill.
Wanting to become a millionaire isn’t really a goal. That’s more of a desire. A goal would be something like finding a new house better suited to your needs or synthesizing a certain amount of aspirin by next week. There is a starting point, end point, and an approach between the two.
However, it is important to point out that a goal is an abstract thing. It isn’t real. The end point you are working toward is an imagined thing, not the reality. The approach is an imagined thing, not the reality, And the starting point is limited by your own awareness.
For example, you are seeking a house that better suites your needs. You lay out a plan and go for it. Then your needs change. Do you just stick it out and aim for the same goal as before? No, you adapt. Therefore our goals are not fixed things or requirements to be satisfied. Like a schedule, your goals are meant to serve you and not the other way around.
Another example would be in your approach. Suppose the approach you decided to use in order to bridge your starting and end point doesn’t work as well as you had hoped. Well, again, you change it!
And finally, suppose you assumed you had more money than you did when you were first starting out but you didn’t realize it until you were halfway through your approach. Again, you adapt.
So goal-setting and fulfilling are a kind of technique and technology. It is a way we survive and thrive in society.
BUT your happiness need not and should not depend on your goals. That is the difference between a goal and a desire, in my opinion. A desire creates a sense of separation between yourself and the thing you are desiring.
When that separation is crossed, then you are rewarded with a form of pleasure. But in order for that pleasure to occur, it requires that initial separation. This is because the separation actually created a form of suffering and it was the momentary release from that suffering that we then perceive as pleasure.
It’s like someone pinching you continuously and then letting go for a moment. The release includes a wave of pleasure. But if you seek that same pleasure, you must again be pinched.
That is why desire for specific pleasure keeps us locked in cycles of suffering. None of it is “bad” or “wrong,” it’s just confused as to where happiness and the bliss we seek through pleasure truly lies.
Desires don’t always make sense. Sometimes they come from repressions, wounds, or traumas. Sometimes they come from fixation on the past or future. The less happy and at peace we are in this moment, the more we feel the burn of desire. But don’t confuse happiness and peace with being bored and empty. There is much passion and fire to be found in desirelessness because to be without desire means to be wholly yourself here and now.
A goal, however, is defined by logic and thoughtfulness. Perhaps our desires prompt us to make certain goals; then confusion is inevitable at one point or another. But that’s okay too, you just figure it out as you go.
A book I often love to recommend is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It does a great job of distinguishing between inner states of desirelessness and peace and outer activities of societal life.
Namaste :) Much love