My concerns for running a sound business and making a decent living for my family seem to prevent me from pursuing a spiritual life. The fear of not having enough drives my life. I am so confused about what my true purpose should be, and I long to strike a balance between worldly concerns and spiritual growth.
The issues you raise about how your business concerns seem to be in conflict with your wish for a progressive inner life are a source of confusion to many seekers. The only real confusion we face at any time is over what our purpose is here on this earth. Please don’t think this an oversimplification of the problem. Whenever we are unsure about what this life is for, we invent images to supply this missing certainty. One of these images, and a more common one these days, may be to picture ourselves as “successful” businesspeople, or experts who are looked up to and held in high esteem by others. Living from this purpose, our sense of self is all wrapped up in making our enterprises succeed, for we believe our security — in fact, in some ways our very “life” — depends upon keeping the picture intact. So, our time and energies, physically and psychologically, are absorbed by this image and its intended goal. Our business now runs us. Unfortunately, this goal to “win” is powerless to produce what it promises, and actually serves to divide us — a state that prohibits spiritual success. Now we find ourselves at odds with our own inventions. And while I realize this illustration may sound extreme to you, as your stated wish was to learn how to strike a balance between necessary worldly concerns and spiritual growth, nevertheless, the principle governing our inner success remains true here as well.
Imagine a man picking apples in his orchard, which happens to sit in the wilds somewhere. He must pick fruit to survive, and yet he knows that each time he ventures out into his orchards his life is in danger, for mountain lions roam the region. I ask you to tell me: Where would this man’s attention be the whole time he was busy with his worldly duty? That’s right. He would go to work each time with the understanding that his task in his world of trees is always a twofold one: the first to be awake for signs of danger, the second to enjoy the fruits his efforts may produce for him. In short, awareness of his true condition defines his purpose, and it is this purpose that sets, or tends to define, what are his genuine priorities.
Our efforts to do good, sound business do not have to be, as our false nature would have us believe, at the cost of being awake and enjoying the natural fruits of spiritual goodness. Let us each resolve, as many times as needed, to redefine what we really want from this life, and in the light of our renewed, higher purpose, place our attention to those areas of our inner life which this new purpose demands. When we live in this way, with Truth as our intention and truthfulness as our guide, there is no more conflict.
As far as what to do about those fears of not having enough to live the way you want to, ask yourself the following question: Can anything I am afraid to live without ever be the source of my fearlessness? The answer is obviously a resounding “No!” But what does this discovery teach us? What good is anything we may have if all it can do for us is make us frightened that one day we may not have enough of “it”… whatever that “it” may be — money, approval, family, friends, etc.? We must get tired of being frightened that one day we may not have enough of what it is in our lives that has failed and is powerless to make us fearless human beings. Then, as it grows clear to us that our problem is fear itself, we will know exactly what to do each time we start to feel afraid. We will become consciously fearless. We will be aware of the fear, but no longer buy into what it wants us to do about it. Here begins the truly fearless life.