One of the challenges I've had since getting engaged with the personal development industry - and it's been difficult going sometimes - is how best to integrate the industry's focus of “getting things” with the Buddhist view that really, “getting things” is not going to provide the type of consistent delight we want.
At first sight it seems like an impractical task.
Fortunately, it can be done!
To begin with, there are some misperceptions and oversimplifications found on both sides of the fence.
At least in the West, several people with a spiritual focus are very, good, peaceful and laid-back. The normal stereotyped belief of such people is that they do not push too hard to get things: “Well, I tried wanting stuff and it didn't work for me, so now I'm going to decide out of that. Happiness arrives from being contented with little”. That kind of thing. Occasionally, of course, the actual people buy into the stereotype and truly are like that. But there are choices!
If we see the Buddha, for instance, (and I am sure you will be in a position to find similar illustrations in other traditions), his life was in reality characterised by intense striving. At the age of 29 he decided “You know what? My life is simply not the way I'd like it to be. I'm going to find the tools I require to change that.” And he went off to a Tony Robbins Seminar. Well in fact, he did not, but he did something of that sort: he sat at the feet of a guru (which to people in spiritual circles means “respected teacher”, by the way, not “controlling leader of crazy sex cult” or some such). And after finding out all he could from that guru, he went to another. And afterward he tried a path of simplicity, then one of moderation and finding out to knowing the technicalities of the mind. So he did not simply veg out and look forward to life to happen to him.
And if you figure out his words, they were very far away from “Love and peace, man. Drift with the current. The Universe will provide.” They said to actively look to transform your life. They were direct. They were sometimes rude.
While I visit a meditation centre it pains me to find people saying “I simply need to take it easy and be gentle with myself”. With my coach hat on I feel like saying “This is an exceedingly disempowered viewpoint. You deserve much better than this!” And with my Buddhist hat? The same!
For people who go to the planet of secular self-development, certainly, it is feasible to get confused by the ra-ra “You can have it all! Instantly! Go get the lifestyle of your dreams!” Yes, the style is very different from (so many) spiritual organisations. But is the fundamental message all that diverse?
To me it appear it's not.
Now, like me, you may feel that the metaphor “different sides of the fence” perfectly describes the relationship between spiritual paths such as Buddhism and the self-development industry. But if you look around, you might catch a glimpse of some of the gaps in that fence, where you will be able to go over to the other side for a while, and come back if and when you feel like.
Live the difference Life Coaching is based in Melbourne which offers transformational one-on-one coaching both face-to-face and on the phone. People come from all walks of life and live in and around Melbourne, interstate and overseas. Visit http://livethedifference.com.au for more information on Life Coach.