Question: I know that one is supposed to work to keep their attention wherever they are, but I live and work in New York City where the atmosphere is so dense and dynamic that you will encounter many impressions from a simple walk down the street, and you can easily forget a particular occurrence by the time you turn a corner. Multi-tasking is valued and even expected here in the workplace. Yet the city offers a progressive mindset with much healthy exposure and variety that helps develop a person unlike anything else. How much is too much activity for one who wishes to take on and risk more yet wants to keep their attention and not be overwhelmed with an unnecessary amount of activity where they live?
Answer: First, and perhaps most important of all, is that we do with our life moment to moment what we value above all else. There is no escaping this fact, nor should we try — as within it is the only way to find the freedom for which our heart of hearts longs.
Everyone, everything must work in this world; it is a rule of life, a principal connected to obligation and the reconciliation of all that is. That said, there is what we owe to the world, and then there is what we must “give” to ourselves even in the midst of our busy-ness, if we ever hope to be free.
In many respects, the activities of people in this world — in their pursuit of pleasure, possessions, sensation — and all forms of experience connected to always having “so much to do” — is not unlike an individual trying to paint a picture on the surface of a running stream. Everything that we do in passing time will always prove itself to be pointless with regards to our wish to finding interior permanence. And, in a way, that’s the only question: not just where and how we spend our life, but what do we care about most, moment to moment, in the throws of our affairs?
It is too easy to be pulled into the dark undercurrent that runs through the secret underbelly of this world; billions of people believe they have somehow escaped such spiritual captivity, when their activities are it’s very heartbeat. One way in which we can know our actual proximity to this unseen psychological prison is the degree to which we justify, or otherwise find ways to make peace with whatever unwanted position we have found ourselves within.
There are some things in this life for which there can be no substitute, regardless how temporarily promising or stimulating. On the other hand, it seems that the upper path can only be found and walked by those who realize not just the temporality of all their past choices but, more significantly, how temporary is the self that was satisfied by the same.
Lastly, never doubt that the Divine isn’t always aware of your needs before you are. This means that the true work for us as aspirants is to be as open as we can be to seeing how certain self-supplied needs leave us wanting. In this awareness are both a negation and the confirmation that our wish is being answered.