Some people experience a profound loss of motivation, and lose the desire and ability to set goals and accomplish them during or after spiritual awakening.
Welcome to the elite group of moody, anti-social, unmotivated enlightened people! Congrats!
The word at the heart of motivation is motive, which means a reason for doing something, causing or being the reason for something that happens. To have motivation (motive in action) requires having a motive, and having a motive in the world of Beautiful Sleepwalkers requires having a solid self at the very root of it all. All your habits and experiences and preferences and thoughts and stories, all held together at the very root by a single solid self.
That self can generate a motive, a reason for doing something. Then it takes the various actions to do the thing. And then there is some kind of culmination, where the goal is achieved or not: success or failure. And the self claims ownership over all of this, from generating the motive, to the actions, to the outcomes. This is the way you’ve experienced motivation for most of your life. People who are especially good at this, people who have lived lives of accomplishment, have an even stronger sense of this pathway of motivation.
So what happens when the self at the root of this process becomes less solid?
Or in the case of the Ultra Sane, what happens when the illusion of self is permanently seen for what it is? In that case you don’t lose the self as much as see the self plainly as a Never Was.
You’re at a point where your unquestioning belief in a self at the root of your own life, as the linchpin of your life, is not so solid, maybe it’s flickering in and out, or getting kind of melty. like a chocolate bar that’s been left near a warm window. It still has its shape, but if you were to touch it, it would just be a gooey mess.
No solid self at the root. I invite you to pause here and really feel that. Feel how awesome that is, and also feel how completely disorienting that is. Like vertigo, minus the vomiting.
If the solid self has been ever the source of your motive, and thus your motivation, is it not to be expected that this whole system will be in a state of collapse when you sufficiently weaken or eventually remove the linchpin of self?
You might be chewing on this with your mind, but now I want you to drop into your gut, or whatever, and just feel it. Feel what’s it’s like to feel unmotivated, feel the emptiness or the flaccidity where there was once a well tuned engine, churning out motive, motivation, action and accomplishment or failure. You might experience it like an elastic or rubber band that’s lost its stretch. Or if you are experiencing it mentally it will appear as confusion, which is the same thing.
As promised, here is the difference between awakening and being awake. When you awaken to Ultra Sanity, you will also experience this self-motive-motivation-action-outcome process as broken. But this is the difference: you will know you are not the doer in the way you’ve always believed yourself to be. Likewise, none of the outcomes or the fruits of your actions belong to you. This is not a theoretical knowing or an abstract knowing or an intellectual understanding. It is seen, known, understood fundamentally and in all situations. I’m not going to go further with this, but now you have it, and someday you’ll remember this when you need to.
For a while you will be so disoriented. You’ve done it and known it this one way for your whole life until now. And you did it well! You should seriously celebrate and acknowledge how awesome you played the part of Beautiful Sleepwalker. What were your qualities as a Dreamer? You accomplished a great deal, and not all Dreamers do. Some Dreamers spend their time drunk in bars or betting on dog fights. Not you.
But you’re waking up. That means you might spend some time in the In Between. The hypnagogic state, where you are still kind of dreaming, but kind of awake, and the two sometimes overlap and superimpose.
Let’s get off this boat that’s going up and down in the waves and stand on some solid ground for a while, shall we?
What’s the point, you ask. What’s the point of doing anything? The question you are asking is not so much for me to show you what the point is, the question here is how to live in a world where this self-motive-motivation-action-outcome process is broken. How to do things in life when there is no point. If we take the self out of the process, it looks like this:
If the self is not able to claim any of it, own any of it, then it just blows a raspberry and says, “Why bother? “
In your case, you are still working with a self, though it’s no longer totally solid and believable. At some point you will not have that self, and that will be its own weird ball of wax. You’ll still have the feeling of, “Why bother?” but it will be coming from a different perspective.
There are plenty of things you do without having to drum up motivation. You get out of bed in the morning. You brush your teeth. Water your plants. Feed yourself. You’re not sitting there having to explicitly motivate yourself to perform these actions.
Doing nothing is just as pointless as doing something. Not being a mother is just as pointless as being one. There will come a time when you will do things because they are useful, necessary or enjoyable, while still holding the knowledge that your actions are pointless and the outcomes don’t belong to you.
I go in and out of motivational states. I find that most of my motivation to do things “in the world” (as opposed to planting my garden or baking a pie) are drawn out of me by other people, or by necessity. Examples? Necessity: need to file my taxes. Other people: this blog. I don’t feel motivated to write, I don’t feel I have important things to say that must be said, I don’t even regard enlightenment or spirituality as particularly interesting topics. But people ask me questions and this leads me to write. I don’t feel the need to tell my story or express myself.
In the past year, I’ve repeatedly logged into the site with the express intention of shutting it down. But then I’ll find that someone has asked a question or someone has said this is important or useful. So I don’t. But really, it’s that touch and go. I renewed my hosting for six months, so I only know the blog will be up that long and then we’ll see.
It’s really unfamiliar territory, living moment by moment and not being invested in your own life, at least not in the way you used to be. You can end up being unpredictable, because you are not motivated by the same things and in the same way that you used to be, or in the manner of most people. You can still create and act and do things in life with great passion and enthusiasm, but all of that is only moment by moment…this morning’s enthusiasm and passion does not carry into this afternoon or tomorrow or into the future. It’s not sustained by the persona, it is something that flows naturally. And also, it ebbs naturally.
This is hard, because we believe that to do anything of consequence, to build something and create something, we need to make a commitment and then sustain that with motivation.
When you don’t know if you will be motivated to do something tomorrow or six months from now, why bother even starting?
When the persona self is seen through, once and for all, you will go through a time of adjustment. Some will then withdraw from the world, some will remain and participate in the Human Tribe.
There is something other than the persona self that acts through you, if you will. It’s a kind of basic nature. I’m spending all this time writing to you because it is, at this moment, totally congruent with my basic nature that expresses moment by moment, not as a sum of every other moment up to now. I don’t do it because I’m a writer or a teacher or even an enlightened person.
From a totally practical perspective, I would advise you to learn to do things without a motive. It feels very lame to stay in this limbo for five or ten years, and then realize when you are 50 that you’ve done nothing just because you couldn’t find a point to it. It’s lovely that you are not driven at the moment by external exigencies, like financial need, but you never know what the future will bring. Use that financial freedom to act with enthusiasm and passion moment by moment, without any real purpose or point with a capital P.
Experiment with expressing your basic nature through action. Your basic nature is very simple and immediate. For instance, I no longer have an overall image of what kind of mom I am, but I’m constantly discovering what kind of mom I am moment by moment, as my basic nature reveals itself in the context of my relationship with my daughter. I don’t then stitch all these revelations together to create a picture of myself as mom, each moment just goes away. Nothing I did in that moment belongs to me anymore.
Doing stuff is fun, isn’t it? Taking action in life is interesting. You might like coaching someone in the moment, but when you consider being a coach, suddenly you feel a sense of emptiness or deflation. I’m not sure if you will get the distinction here, but can you do the actions without becoming the Thing? For instance, I’m doing something here, what would you call this? Coaching? Counselling? Writing? Whatever. I have no trouble doing it in the moment, but if you asked me if I want to be a Teacher or Spiritual Blogger or whatever, I’d have no interest. What’s the point of being those things? There is none. I have zero desire or interest in being the Thing. Yet that doesn’t stop me from doing the very same actions that might be ascribed to a Teacher or a Coach or whatever. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
And know that you might have to deal with this in waves. Things might get a lot easier and you’ll get into the flow of it and you’ll do a lot. Then suddenly you won’t be able to. It’s kind of a drag, but at those times you will be very grateful that you’ve put away some resources that allow you to deflate and do nothing for a while. That’s a gift, not a burden, if you use it correctly.
It’s not a straight path where you start here and then get better and better. Life is wavy, much more so this awakened life.
Today. Act in this great play. Do something and delight in the doing of it, without care or regret. It’s all just building sand castles anyway. It’s not easy, even now after all this time, to participate in the Human Tribe without this sense of motivation. I’m not going to tell you it just all works out and is great. It’s still totally weird. But it’s just about the Human Tribe. For instance, if you just lived alone out in nature, would you still have this issue? No. You would chop wood for your fire when you needed to. You would grow food, or whatever. These things take a lot of effort and even planning, but you would do them without any confusion as to why. It’s this glorious Matrix world of humans that causes us to stumble all over ourselves. Why? Because at the root of it all lies one great big linchpin of illusory self…just as we have personal versions, there is one mega version for the human race. Even if we see through our own selves, we still are living in a world constructed by and for the self of the Human Tribe.
You can get better at it, and you will. But it will always be a work in process. Working around the Unreal.
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You suffer because of your programming, and because you don't have command of yourself.
You'd like to be relieved of this suffering.
You don't want to do the work to deprogram yourself (because, perversely, the program is protecting itself by making that path seem vague or unappealing).
You need to feel like you are pursuing a solution, and you've latched onto the one that is most unlikely (statistically) to occur anytime soon...enlightenment.
And...you also have a sincere calling toward spirituality, but this content has been thrown in the compulsion machine, so it's hard for you to separate what part of this is really you and what is just a product of the machine.
My suggestion would be to make enlightenment a neat side interest and pursue deprogramming like everything—and I mean everything—is riding on it. This will be ridiculously hard. Not because it is so difficult or complicated, but because your programming will do everything to prevent you doing this.