“Life is good, I don’t have any major problems, I am happy, so why do I need to do a retreat?”

This kind of complacency affects people who have not been exposed to the Path, as well as those who have. It is the most common position amongst those who are at least moderately successful in conventional life terms. The difficulty lies with the conventional social view of success. The conditioned mind growing up in society is bombarded by constant media images of the rich and famous. The unquestioned model of success in modern culture is to be wealthy and to reach a high position in society. Some cultures emphasize this social dimension more than others, which means to be admired, respected and loved by one’s peers. To be considered part of the ‘elite’, or popular among the ‘important’ people. Or to have power and influence. For women, the training is often to become alluring and desirable enough to attract the right man, who it is hoped will bring you the love and security and social position. Some women may be driven by business success, but for the majority, even those in business, there is much focus around finding the ideal partner as the most important goal and mark of success in life.

These conventional models of success have little to do with being happy, much less finding fulfillment or Freedom. The vibration of ‘wanting’ will always keep things away from you. However, if you have not tasted these forms of success and discovered for yourself that alone they do not bring the lasting happiness they promise, then they tend to retain a powerful grip on the mind and imagination. So some people have to go through enough failed relationships, until they see that, without inner growth, they are condemned to living out the same dysfunctional patterns. Or they need to make enough money to discover that it never eliminates the anxiety for the approval of others. Each person has to discover for themselves that growth is the only answer to being truly fulfilled and Free in life. The alternative, if one’s karma is ripe, is to become inspired for the Path, without having to spend decades ‘chasing rainbows’.

Then there are others, who have already begun the Path, and made enough progress to pull themselves out of the more obvious stresses and fears of their earlier life. Now, because life is so much easier than it was before, they mistakenly think they have got all the juice there is from spirituality and the Path. They say they are happy. This person never gives up the idea that success in life is about position, money and getting love from others. So they remain stuck in wanting control, wanting love and approval, and wanting to be safe and secure. When you are stuck in this wanting energy, control, approval and safety all remain elusive, no matter what worldly successes you have to your name.

However, this person’s mind is so conditioned, that they continue to chase and struggle and work towards their unquestioned life goals as the primary objective. If you ask the person what they hope their life goals will bring to them, many people have not considered this question. They are driven by their programming, on autopilot. Their mind is their master, rather than the other way around. When you want control more than you want to be Free, then you will not release control, so things keep going out of control for you. This applies the same with approval and safety. So when your intent for Freedom is weaker than your other life goals, your consciousness never really grows, and you will have the tendency to try to use the Path as a means to get what your ego thinks it needs from the world to make you happy or safe. Your consciousness remains manipulative and absorbed in self-concern and the energy of getting and wanting. This keeps your vibration low, and means that the highest Grace never descends on you, and the magic of inner transformation that the Path is really all about remains closed to you. To this person, the realm of Grace, or the Divine, remains theoretical, not experiential.

If you never consciousness remains bound by material life, you may indeed reach some of your external life goals. But you will find that they do not bring the inner peace, approval, respect, satisfaction and security that your mind dreamed they would. You will never be free of anxiety. You will never be able to finally rest. Look at the current economic crisis. It is a perfect case in point. Imagine a person who has worked 40 years to build up enough money, hoping it will make them feel secure, and in a couple of months, all this is washed away. They never understood that this life is about clearing your karma, and going back to the Source, to God, to Love. They have wasted a whole life in wanting, struggling, manipulation, and getting. At the end of your life, you will leave in the same condition you arrived in – naked and with nothing. What is the meaning of it all? What is worth doing between now and death? The only thing you can take with you on your onward journey at the time of death, is your consciousness – how you have lived and loved.

The inner choices you make determine your destiny. The Universe knows your heart. If you live a life of ignorance and selfishness, your vibration will remain low and gross, and you will never be truly happy or fulfilled, much less achieve the ultimate state of union with God. On the other hand, if you seek to grow, to refine and purify your consciousness, life will get easier and you will transcend all the lifetimes of karma that you have accumulated. You will behold the Divine nature of things. And all the material things that you thought you had to struggle a lifetime to get, will be available to you with no effort, just when you don’t care about them any more. When you are beyond wanting and needing, everything is given to you by Grace. This is what is really meant by the alleged words of Jesus, “seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and then all else shall be added unto you.”

Also, see (7), above, for the anecdote of Narayan and Lakshmi, which illustrates the same Truth. The super famous, the super wealthy, and the super successful (in conventional terms) are as plagued by wanting and fear as others. You cannot begin to feel fulfilled unless your motivation is truly to use your gifts and resources for the service and upliftment of all beings. Much less know the Bliss of Divine Love.