So, you need a reason in order to do that thing. You’ve come in the right place. I’ll show you how that is an illusion.
In my last essay, I discussed how we homo sapiens often ask unnecessary extra questions that have nothing to do with the situation in front of us. We tend to take extra, unnecessary actions before coming to the point of taking those actions. Requiring a reason before you can take a course of action is a sign of the same confusion. I already covered this at some length in my previous essay where I exposed the question of the meaning of life. The only difference was that instead of requiring a reason to do something, one needed a reason to continue living itself.
First of all, why do we do anything at all? There are essentially two categories of answer that make sense. One is that of our conscious well-being, which is a broad term encompassing all joy, pleasure, fun, and happiness of ourselves, our loved ones and the broader humanity. The other is that of perpetuating ourselves. So, let’s take a look at the first one.
The simple version of the first answer is that we do things to feel good, whether in the present or the future. But if something feels good, it means it has intrinsic value. This intrinsic value is the driver of our actions. This holds true even when we are talking about feeling good in the future. When you take an action in favor of some future goal, what makes the action worth taking is this intrinsic value contained in the goal, this well-being promised by the goal. As such, we ultimately do things for no other reason than we want to. And this clearly rules out the need for an external reason for taking a course of action.
In my last essay, I talked about my disappointment with girls who never seem to find much of value in me. Now, girls have also been the lurking motivation behind a good deal of all I’ve ever seriously wanted to do. After all, we men built civilization mainly to impress our girlfriends. And love for me is one of the top three motivations in life, the other two being knowledge and success. So, naturally I found myself struggling with a reason for doing things at times. But then I realized that I don’t need a reason for following my most ambitious plans in life. To want to do them is enough. The fact that success is a motivation in and of itself is enough. There’s no need for a second motivation, or I shall say, a motivation behind another motivation.
So recently, I found myself looking to start a food distribution and tech company. I saw that the fact that I found this thing interesting to build was enough of a reason for me to go ahead and build it. I didn’t need an external reason to build this enterprise. Of course, I could build it for my customer, for the good I wanted to do to mankind, and all of that. But in a sense, I didn’t really need any of these reasons. I could even build it simply from my love for existence. But a cause for doing something, or happening of something, is enough. Purpose is not a requisite. This is a fact to be verified everywhere in nature. Only man invented this thing called purpose.
The process of building an enterprise is a potentially rewarding journey. And as the present moment becomes good enough, either because I find the process engaging or I get some positive feedback from the market or whatever, I’ll be no longer distracted by thought so as to bother asking the question of reason or meaning and purpose. I’ll simply surrender to consciousness in each present moment. And that is the essence of it all. That is what we’re always seeking in life. And that is what I have been seeking through girls as well. But then it’s clear that a girlfriend is just one way of finding this union of consciousness with experience. It’s just like, “All roads lead to Rome.”.
The same thing applies when I’m writing this blog post. The fact that I feel connected to the present moment as I write it, or that I enjoy the process of writing it, is enough. Maybe no one will read it. Maybe the whole world will be enlightened by it. In either case, the result need not steal away the joy of writing it. My wanting to write this blog post is in fact the proximate cause of it getting written, and whether it is fueled by some meaning and purpose is secondary.
Now consider dance. When you are dancing, you’re not trying to get anywhere. It is not as though you’re making every move faster than the last one. You are following the music, its flow and rhythm. So, where does the meaning of dance exist, or in other words, the reason behind doing it? I think the best answer is the meaning of the dance is the dance itself, which is again a fancy way of referring to the intrinsic value of the dance being the sole motivator behind doing it.
This is also in close alignment with one of the two most profound epiphanies I’ve ever had. Consciousness is the only thing in the universe that matters, or where anything can matter, and the well-being of conscious creatures is the one and the highest good. I hope to cover this topic in detail in a separate essay, but for now let’s just return to the question of needing a reason before one can do something. See ultimately, even if one is taking an action in favor of a future goal, the same is supposed to bring this substrate of conscious well-being into existence. But then why not turn that future goal of happiness into a present one, when there is no apparent future goal in taking a course of action?1 In other words, why not do something for its own sake, without requiring an external reason? In fact, given this state of affairs, I would suggest that this is the most noble and sacred thing one can do in life, of course for as long as one picks doing things suitable for this approach. And luckily, the more we do this, the more fulfilling our lives become. Happiness is all about being connected to the present and not distracted by thought. And if you are doing something for its own sake without requiring an external reason to motivate you, this implies happiness unless you’re a masochist2. After all, any time your attention is bound in the future, you are clearly not feeling good. And this is something you can witness for yourself. And as the philosopher Alan Watts once said, “Even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”.
To conclude, I must say that it helps to have a strong meaning and purpose when you’ve to do something unpleasant over a sustained period of time. But then again, the meaning and purpose itself should be the cause behind this unpleasant course of action rather than correcting it after the fact.3 But otherwise, if there’s something you already want to do, then there’s no need to seek an external reason. To do so is a sign of confusion because you’re creating space for something that until now didn’t exist, thereby making the reason dispensable and the question of asking for it artificial.
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