Ep. 216: Wishlessness and Your Dreams

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We live in a culture where we’re told to strive, strive, STRIVE. To “shoot for the stars!” and “Manifest your biggest dreams!” “Change the world!”


We’re often reminded – by well-intentioned people – that if we want to live a simple life, we might be “thinking small.”


Lately (well, if I’m honest, for the past several years), I’ve been feeling overwhelmed – as are many of you – with the state of the world. 


I vacillate between wanting to fix everything, psyching myself up for the task, and then struggling to be as skillful as possible so that I don’t go into freeze mode and shut everything out from overwhelm.


I just wish I could…fix it all. 


And much of the world seems to be pressuring us to do exactly that.


Not only that, but to also create more and leave a huge legacy of life’s work and serve our community and our family.


We receive messages from all directions via media that tell us we aren’t enough unless we DO more, CREATE more, BE more. 


That to lead a meaningful life we need to always choose to do hard things, big things, impossible things…and to “save the world.”


But at some point, I had to decide what was enough


And at another point, I had to realize that simply existing, and being authentically me as I accept this moment as it is, in its entirety, is enough.


Being wishless…is enough.


This is often a deep practice for me – being wishless. To shed doing more and trying to fix everything or change things to be any different than they already are. 


I mean, I can get a lot more done than most people before 10am! But that doesn’t mean I should.


And the same goes for you.


If my body, mind, and spirit were screaming at me to do less, then the most compassionate thing in that moment is to listen. And it’s always wise to listen – especially to the wisdom of our bodies.


Here I am, an entrepreneur and podcaster who’s been in magazines and all that, living in a society that says we aren’t enough unless we DO more, CREATE more, BE more. 


So it’s no wonder that every time I arrive at my regular meditation center and I say my arrival invitation of “Nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to be,” my body, mind, and soul instantly surrender and soften.


Yes. Just…existing.


Because just existing IS enough.


It’s not easy to accept this all the time. We might hear the quote from Mary Oliver, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And think of all the amazing things we “need” to do or create so we don’t “waste” it.


But we miss her other messages, like in the poem Wild Geese, which tells us to “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” To exist the way we naturally do, without all the static in our minds from our media and culture.


So the biggest challenge in life isn’t to try to change the world or create The Next Big Thing or fill three passports… to keep trying to do more and more.


The greatest challenge if just arrive in this present moment – without attachment to anything, without judgment, without needing anything to be different than what’s happening right now – and stay.


We need to counter the capitalist, consumerist, colonialist messages we’re sent that to do more is more valuable than simply being.


To do that, I want to first invite us to get comfortable with wishlessness.


In Sanskrit, the term is apranihita, and it often translates to aimlessness, but I like the word wishlessness, which my friend Keri introduced to me. Wishlessness is considered an essential practice for awakening.


Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be. Just arriving and existing, knowing that everything is precious as it is.


No need to fix anything – not even suffering.


This is an essential first step.


This isn’t about spiritually bypassing and thinking we can be in our own bubble and ignore the suffering of others. We can’t do that because our liberation is inextricably linked to that of others’. To believe otherwise is dismissing the interdependence of all things.


But we can see that we don’t need to do more for our own life and worthiness to be enough. For our life to be meaningful. And that in order to take the most effective action, we need to first learn to be unattached to the world needing to be different than it already is. 


It’s ironic – I see that. But they are not mutually exclusive.


Without wishlessness, our motivation can be more ego-driven, or come from fear, hatred, desperation, or self-righteousness.


So there are a few elements we’ve discussed about wishlessness:


// Taking big action can be wonderful, but it doesn’t make your life more important or valuable than someone who takes smaller actions, because we are all enough and worthy just by existing.


// Wishlessness is not counterproductive to taking action, even in the realm of social justice.


// Wishlnessness helps us come from a place of pure compassion instead of being ego-driven.


Another bonus is wishlessness can also help us avoid burnout. Without wishlessness, and without letting go of attachment to outcomes needing to go a certain way to feel our life is meaningful and that our actions (or life) are worthwhile, we might give up, feel overwhelmed, and check out or blow up.


When we practice wishlessness, we’re taking action from a place of more inner peace and understanding; compassion rather than anger and desperation. 


True social change arises from inner transformation, just as harmful social change has its seeds in inner pain.


Thich Nhat Hanh taught that wishlessness and social justice can co-exist. I deeply believe this.


What if we believed we had nothing more to do, nowhere to go, no one to be, nothing more to fix in this precious life?


What if being – just existing – was enough? 


What if continuing to practice this was a deep part of helping to heal ourselves and the world? What if practicing this helped us take the most effective action in the world to truly help heal?

You will learn:

// How the culture of BIG manifestation can turn toxic

// How to find and accept your “enough”

// Why sitting in the moment can be WAY harder than daydreaming about what if…

// The concept of wishlessness and how it can help us be present with the preciousness of life exactly as it is

// How we can balance our goals and dreams… and what happens when we don’t

// The key to taking effective, healing action – for ourselves AND our society


// Episode 40: Desire and Attachment


// Episode 69: Having Enough – Finding Your Balance


// Episode 98: How to Stop Hustling


// I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a review on the Rebel Buddhist Podcast on iTunes by clicking here    


// If you want to dive deeper into this Soul-level work and create a life of more freedom, adventure and purpose, head over to JoinFreedomSchool.com. It’s got everything you need in one place to build a foundation for a lifetime of self-exploration and freedom.  


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