I already have that which I seek

I’m a child of the West, and the conscious and unconscious dogma that I’ve spent my life absorbing says that to live is to strive. That what we want, what we need, is outside of ourselves. That to attain happiness and meaning we need to work hard, to climb ladders, to amass wealth, accumulate respect, attain learning. But what if that’s all bullshit?

For example, one of the tenets of Eastern philosophy—and here, I’m thinking mostly of Buddhism—is that we already have everything we need, that pursuit is fruitless because we already have it all. Or more accurately, we don’t need the things we desire to get what we want. Want to be happy? Want to rid yourself of anger or jealousy? Want to experience the fullness of every moment and utter contentedness? Cool. Just give yourself permission to do so.

To me this idea is terrifying because if it’s true then it invalidates a large portion of my intellectual foundation. It renders useless all the posturing and the plotting that makes up a large slice of my daily activity. It also raises another question: if that which I seek is already mine, if that which I seek can be had right now, in this moment, then what the hell am I supposed to do for the rest of my life?