As long as our self-identification centers around what we call the real
world, no profound happiness is possible. Happiness requires that we
give up a worldly orientation--not worldly things but a worldly
attachment to things. We have to surrender all outcomes. We have
to live here but appreciate the joke.
In order to become happy, we must become bigger than the worldly
self. . . . Just as children play games in which they pretend to be adults,
and thus pave the way for adulthood, so you and I must pretend to be
angelic, noble, enlightened spirits just visiting here,
in order to actually become them.
I do get worried sometimes when I see just how easily young people are led to become dependent upon things for their sense of worth. They need to be wearing the cap or the jersey from the right team, be carrying just the right smart phone, be listening to the right songs, in order for them to feel that their peers accept them. And where do they learn this from? Why, their elders, of course--their parents and family and teachers and bosses who themselves have become attached to things such as their 60-inch televisions and their perfect cars and their perfect clothes. And we adults want these things so that we'll feel "better" around other people because the other people will be impressed with us and our taste.
It's important to give up our attachment to things. When we become attached, our self-worth becomes tied up with those things, so that if we lose them, we somehow think that we're less valuable as a person, because we're no longer able to impress our peers with our taste or our technology. When I die, though, I want to be free of things. While I live, I want my focus to be on doing good and helping others, not on getting and maintaining things. This world is so incredibly fleeting that we'd do ourselves well to remind ourselves that we're going to leave it before we know it, and when we do, there'll be no going back to change our orientation. An orientation with things and gadgets tends to leave people feeling empty and solitary in the end, whereas an orientation on people and service tends to make people feel fulfilled and needed and peaceful in the end. I know where I want to be when the end of my life comes around.