Means and End Are One

In my previous post, I was a bit hard on myself for not feeling like I accomplished anything particularly meaningful here. If anything, I’ve regressed. I haven’t been playing the cello, I haven’t been writing as much as I should have (sorry about the Traveler of the Week Series, hope to get back to it soon, but one step at a time), I’ve been working less…As a New Yorker there is already a need to be productive, but in my family it’s multiplied by ten.

In Nichiren Buddhism, our practice is all about daily life. It’s not about detaching yourself from anything, but it’s about learning how to turn everything into something of value, including challenges and struggles. It’s also about learning continuously. You don’t just wake up one day and become a Buddha. You already are a Buddha, and you demonstrate that through your actions and your continual growth, or human revolution.

After being so hard on myself for the past couple of weeks and kicking myself for what I haven’t done and feeling like I’ve wasted a good portion of the opportunities I’ve had access to here in Spain, today, in The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, volume 2, I read this:

“If we view the means and the end as distinct, then the means becomes secondary and value resides exclusively in the end. Also, from this standpoint, we may tend to feel that, as long as the end can be attained, then the means whereby people arrive there is unimportant.”

And this is the key. Here I am, so focused on my end goal of making contributions to the field of education and growing as a global citizen, that I have blatantly disregarded the importance of the steps that I’m taking to get there. While I haven’t accomplished things in obvious ways in my personal life or in my career, there are things that I needed to and have accomplished. While I see these accomplishments as minor in proportion to the bigger picture, after giving it further thought, I know understand that my challenge is to realize that the means and the end are not separate. The steps that I have taken here have just as much importance as the goal that I wish to reach.

It sounds like such a simple concept to understand but for me it is so difficult to put into action. As a whole, we’re very goal-oriented people, and goals absolutely crucial, but the level of importance that we place on them can sometimes get in the way of living in the moment, and respecting the fact that each day, each moment, we are growing and taking steps that we should relish and enjoy to arrive at that end goal .

So, do I magically feel better about this past year? Not really. The seed of forgiving myself and letting go of my regrets has been planted. Perhaps when I arrive to New York for the summer, I will really realize how much I’ve accomplished here, and understand how great those accomplishments really are. And to start: isn’t this very realization to view the means and the end as a whole in and of itself a major accomplishment? I think so. Off to a good start!

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