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Different Motivation, Same Trap:Will Exchanging Fear for Joy Still Result in More Suffering?

Until recently, most of my decisions have been fear based. I chose to stay in Japan because I was afraid of poverty, for example, but since I made a commitment to love myself, I have made decisions based on whether or not the result will make me happy. So now I am no longer motivated by fear, but rather happiness or the prospect of happiness or joy. This feels like a better way to live, but is it? Am I not replacing one external motivational factor for another albeit more pleasant motivator?

According to Sangha, attaching joy or pain to an object, person, situation, or place is a demonstration of greed or fear. He explains in Living Enlightenment that people are either motivated by fear or greed, both of which leads to suffering. He writes that even if one reaches their desired situation or goal, one always wants more. This is the nature of the different types of karma we carry with us, according to Sangha. Our karma drives us to complete experiences that we did not complete in previous lives.

I don’t subscribe to everything Sangha teaches. To me, like so many other beliefs based solely in the unseen and the mysterious, these statements are to be taken with a grain of salt, especially when heaven and hell and punishment start entering into the picture. I don’t know why but I distrust those ideas. To me, they seem entirely too human fraught with judgment and categorizing different behaviors as good or bad. I imagine that a higher power would be above or perhaps unconcerned with such base notions as reward and punishment, but I digress.

What I mean to say is that I believe that it is not ideal attaching my joy to things like where I live and whom I love. I believe that happiness is a state of mind and that one should be happy no matter where they are or what they have or with whom they are. However, I cannot ignore the desire I have that compels me to leave Japan and go back to Colorado. The force that drives me is neither fear nor greed, but inspiration. It feels like my higher self is calling me out of Japan and back to Colorado as if there is something I am meant to do there. Therefore, I am not so sure my motivations are driven entirely by greed.

This could be a form of rationalization. I could be justifying my need to be close to family, to feel loved and accepted with lofty sounding reasons like being compelled by something bigger than myself. This too can be entirely a construct of my mind. However, as the Buddha said, there is nothing but the mind. It’s all an interpretation of reality and I don’t think I will ever really know what reality is. However, that does not concern me.

What concerns me is my own peace of mind and getting to the point where I am comfortable in my own skin. I want to walk with my head held high in any and all situations. I want to be okay with L’Shawn. I want to look at my image in the mirror and be filled to the brim with love and respect for the vision shining back at me. I want to be content with my life and accepting of the choices I have made.

That’s where I am now. I am in a space where I need to create a different more positive and uplifting narrative for my life. I need to believe the universe or something bigger than me is in my corner and making things possible for me because whether that is true or not it makes it possible for me to take risks and follow my desires despite my fear of failure or abandonment. So whether or not changing one motivator for another will result in more suffering remains a mystery, and for now I’m okay with that; for now, I’m getting used to seeing the world through a lens of possibility.

May you find joy in whatever you do or just within your eternal self.

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