Alexander the great, went about conquering the world. He killed many and had several victories to his name. Eventually he died of a mosquito bite, while dying he asked his generals to lay out the arms of his dead body to show people around that he was carrying nothing with him. In his death bed, Alexander understood the futility of leading a life devoted to the pursuit of achievements.
Competing and striving for better status is what a rat race is all about. How wise is this way of living? There is succinct sutra in the Hindu scriptures – “we come empty handed and we leave empty handed, why do you struggle so much in the interim”. There is a stark truth in this pithy saying.
Remember that the point is not to give up on life, but to stop living it insanely. No one is asking you to denounce everything and go to the jungles or caves. You can function beautifully in the society without struggling or suffering its conditioning.
Many people are becoming more and more aware of the foolishness of indulging this rat race of existence. That’s all it takes. You just need to see the insanity to step out of it. Here are few simple truths of life that can help you get out of the rat race mentality.
1.) Your mind conditioning is running you – A person who blindly involves himself in a rat race for success and achievement, is just living his conditioning. May be he/she was criticized as a child and felt the need to prove his/her worth to the society. This is just negative conditioning and it’s silly to the core. When you know that your programming was dysfunctional, you can easily step out of it. You are not your conditioning when you live consciously.
2.) All is one eventually – This is not a spiritual concept. You can easily see the truth of life is “oneness”. Everything came out of one source into existence. We can call it the big bang or anything else to suit our intellectual needs, but the fact is that everything is that one source manifested as form. So when everything is the one, why are we trying to out do each other? When Jesus said – “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, he was pointing to the simple truth that everything is one, when you hate or resent someone you are eventually hating yourself. When you understand this you will immediately get out of the rat race.
3.) Nothing matters in the end – The Alexander story proves it, you can also look at the lives of other famous men or women of our times. Do they really carry their achievements with them once their tenure on earth is terminated? Even the most stable and concrete structure eventually falls down and becomes dust. Why do you associate so much importance to material achievements? With time everything comes to an end, how ever immortal it may seem. Relationships, careers, popularity, all of this comes to end sooner or later. Enjoy what life gives you but stop struggling and suffering for it.
4.) The future is not going to liberate you – Are you seeking your happiness in your future while suffering in the present moment? If you look closely does it not look insane to do so. The future is just a mind projection, a phantom image which has no reality. When it does come it will come as the present moment. Since you are always looking at the future for salvation, you will never be happy in the present no matter what it brings you. True happiness comes from within and not from acquiring this or that, everything else is just fleeting. With a rat race mentality, you will be happy for a moment when you achieve something and immediately start worrying about the next achievement.
5.) Nothing you achieve will bring contentment – Have you not noticed this to be true in your life so far? You constantly strain and suffer to get ahead of the “mind created” competition, but to what avail? As soon as you achieve one thing you will strive for the next. Your life will be an endless struggle till you finally lay down for your last rites. What an utter waste of a life time? Contentment comes when you see that everything is pointless and the only thing that matters is your present moment enjoyment of what life gives you.
6.) You don’t feel fulfilled because you don’t know your true self – Your true nature is peace. This is the call of spirituality all over the world. The mind conditioning is not your true nature, it’s just a bunch of ideas and thoughts that make you indulge in a rat race. You are afraid of the future because you seek your identity through it. Your essence or true nature is that of stillness, it’s a simple awareness of all that is. The only place where you can find your true nature is in the present moment awareness, when you mind stops churning out so much noise and fear.
Escaping the rat race is the first step to sane living. Focus on what you have rather than what you want to achieve. Continue with your duties and work but don’t seek yourself through them. There is a peace and joy to life when you are not constantly worried about the next thing to achieve.