“Something for Nothing” an article by Bob Fergeson
We are what we do, not what we think we do.”
“The fact that you don’t act means you don’t have conviction.” – Richard Rose
I’ve found as I get older that some of the seekers I meet are getting long in the tooth too, and suffer from a lack of conviction(inability to act) brought on by a combination of age and success in life. They have time and money relative to their youth, but are reluctant to use them towards their spiritual path. Perhaps this is not done consciously, but could be that a life-time of work and struggle, not only in the outer world but also in the realm of personality, vanity and ego along with the effects of aging, have left them almost unable to act any other way. The strange thing about them is their “conviction” of commitment to the spiritual path, and the simultaneous lack of ability to act in that direction.
The following is a list of characteristics peculiar to this type of fellow and some questions for him in the hope he will see, and resolve, his paradox:
You have heard that all is One and there’s nothing to be done, and have used this to cleverly rationalize your inability to act towards spiritual work.
You have heard that one must work on oneself even while going about daily activities, but have used this too as a rationalization to avoid actual involvement in spiritual work, especially with others.
You find the view pleasing from resting high on the shoulders of those seekers who have gone before. Why do you refuse to carry someone yourself, to continue the chain?
Your spiritual work consists mainly of reading and ruminating, along with some so-called self-observation while going about your business. Seldom does it involve actual work, even less work with others, and never work for the Work.
Your comfort zone has been made secure by years of effort. Do you think you will make the trip within to the Truth by this continued comfort, both mental/emotional and physical?
Any suggestion of change is met with cleverness, for you have become averse to anything that might rock the ego from it’s throne. This vanity of being always right even extends to your ideas about the ego itself, as evidenced in your insistence that you will ‘destroy the ego’, thus entering further into dichotomy.
Most of this occurs because of a deep-seated vanity that you are special, and thus have no need to involve yourself with the struggles of the less fortunate.
When facing confrontation about your lack of action, you put on a polite yet knowing smile. Your sense of superiority carries over into spiritual work, and is defended by very subtle yet effective masks.
You gravitate towards those that flatter your vanity, and if the going gets tough, you get gone.
This vanity is your biggest block, and keeps you from your inner self, though you think just the opposite.
When your superior attitude is pointed out, it is rationalized by declaring that underneath you still suffer from a feeling of inferiority. While this may be true, it is seldom worked on, and never resolved.
If a meeting or retreat is attended, it’s usually only once, for if there is no immediate profit from it, you feel there is no reason to go again.
The idea of work being profitable only after years of constant effort has somehow slipped your mind. Possibly because your vanity says you have ‘been there, done that’, now it’s time to relax and reap the rewards.
You have found in business how to work smarter rather than harder and this gives you an edge over the competition, but what is it you actually do with this new found time?
You expect teachers and fellow students to cater to your schedule and seem to have no sense of how much actual work and effort they have sent your way.
Do you have an understanding that they are actually working, in actions as well as words, to get you to do the same?
Do you think you could reverse the habit of feeling you deserve something for nothing, and start paying, with your actions, for what you take from teachers and fellow seekers?
Something for nothing is a valid method of work, but only if it involves between-ness. You trade your “something,” the vanity of the ego and its suffering, for the inner self, which knows its own nothing-ness.