For thousands of years the oriental spiritual masters have taught us to live in the now, accepting and being grateful for whatever comes into our lives because everything is for our own best (when seen in perspective maybe spanning several lives). They have told us to neglect the ego and to perceive ourselves as spiritual beings connected with the universal self. They have claimed that living in this “enlightened” state of consciousness we would be permanently happy and blissful and during centuries it has proved to be right for a number of people who have achieved this spiritual level.
In the western world people have had another philosophy. For many centuries they had the idea that (to a great extent) earthly life was generally a pain and that they had to suffer in this life to be rewarded a life in eternal bliss in paradise (if they behaved good according to certain laws of morality) or to suffer in eternal pain in hell (if they behaved bad according to these moral laws). On the other hand this earthly life was very different from people to people, from class to class. During the last centuries, however, there has been a growing tendency to think that a person to a great extent can create his own future (either by hard work and talent or by visualizing and dreaming – or maybe by a combination of both).
Especially in the 20th Century the idea that the mind is a big creative power was becoming more and more accepted. The Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique is now generally used in the self-help and coaching environment. It is also widely accepted in sports as well as in business.
To me it seems that the oriental and the western world are showing two contrasting paths to happiness: A spiritual path setting aside the ego and trusting the universal spiritual power or (as I understand NLP) a practical path using the ego (at least as a creative partner) to establish and reaching dreams and goals for the future.
Therefore I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out which method is the best (if any), or if it is possible to combine the two. Being born and educated in Denmark (which is probably quite similar to the rest of the western world) it is difficult for me to imagine my life without having any dreams or goals. I do recognize that it is possible (at least for some people) to achieve “enlightenment” but I am not sure that I am ready yet.
Of course there are certain risks in the western way:
1. If you do not fulfill your dreams or reach your goals you may be unhappy!
2. When you have reached one goal maybe you are only happy for a short time because you are busy trying to reach the next one.
3. We all encounter other types of personal problems that has nothing to do with fulfilling dreams and reaching goals (like a loss of family members or friends). Can we handle those with NLP?
It seems that the oriental way deals with the above risks which indicates that the “enlightened” state is a desired state to achieve. But are we able (or even willing) to give up our total thought system? If not: Is it possible, then, to combine the oriental and the western method in a balanced way? Can we keep our dreams and goals but still enjoy the moments and be grateful and happy for the goals we already achieved?