Remember that all-in-one 48 piece exercise gym that you bought a few years ago? You even figured out how put it together, and actually worked out for a month or two! Then the sessions got further and further apart, and finally you had to disassemble the infernal contraption and move it into another area (the attic) to make space for your new "media room."

Or how about the 37 books on Feng Shui that are now collecting dust on the crooked bookshelf shelf next to your recliner with the duct taped arms? I won't even mention the collection of yoga CDs, next to the 25 financial advice DVDs.

Look, you‘ve given it a bloody go and it just didn‘t happen. Like water seeking its own level, we eternally end up just where we were supposed to be - without fail.

There is something unsettling about trying to change. It's as if we are not good enough as we are and must add something. Maybe we don't think that we are smart enough, or thin enough, or pretty enough. Then we jump through all kinds of hoops to change those impressions.


Why can't we just relax into what we naturally are letting the chips fall where they may? Why are we afraid to be us? I'll bet if you truly became yourself, sincerely, following your heart with everything that you do, you would find a pretty awesome being in there somewhere.

Change; I mean real change, authentic change, can never be the result of trying to change. Let me repeat that if I may: Real change, authentic change, can never be the result of "trying" to change. It never holds.

Real change only comes when we relax into what we are, which then affords us the time to see clearly and unabashedly ‘exactly' what we are. Setting goals or trying to change into something else takes our eye off the ball.

When we set a goal, we force our mind to follow certain preset patterns. Our minds are more intelligent than that, however, and forcing our minds to follow set patterns means that we restrict the mind within very narrow limits. This cripples the mind from its normal, unrestricted nature, which is the nature to investigate constantly. This means that we would naturally investigate the goal, itself, if we allowed our minds to do their natural thing. Therefore, goal setting gets in the way of a natural, deeper creativity. We become mechanical.

All goal setting is a result of discontent. If we weren't discontented with our life here, why would we have to set goals to get there? We are not satisfied with a high school diploma, so we go to college. We are not happy just with an undergraduate degree so we go to graduate school. We are not happy with just a masters degree, so we study for a doctorate. We aren't happy as a doctor so we go to school to become a specialist (cause that‘s where the real money is). It never ends.

Rather than blindly follow a goal, regardless of how lofty it may be, the mind should be free to see all possibilities. Once it is restricted and programmed to follow a set course, it will do so at the expense of seeing reality, a reality that appears and changes moment to moment. We give up the spontaneity of this moment (where life is truly lived) for concepts and theories. We are no longer "street smart," but become academic, conceptual, and subsequently caught up in suppositions and abstractions. We in fact become dead.

When the mind, however, is unrestricted in its activities and free of fear or the quest for security, then there is the possibility of constant creativeness and persistent aliveness. When the mind restricts itself, there is only mechanical movement that is so mundanely apparent. Therefore, the setting of a goal may be creative, but the efforts to acquire that goal or follow a goal, or try to get to a goal; these will not be creative.

We may spend one percent of our time creating a goal and ninety-nine percent of our time trying to achieve that goal, which is ninety-nine percent of uncreative activity. Some goals that we set tie us down for a long time, maybe even a lifetime, and are never revisited or reevaluated. We fall fast asleep. We no longer investigate, and when we no longer investigate, we blind ourselves and then go down the same paths humanity has gone down since the beginning of civilization; paths of greed, hatred, illusions . . . and war.

There is a better way. The better way is to be awake all the time, every moment. Living in the world of course requires goals - eating, working, raising families - these all require planning; we don't eat our seed corn or become surprised when spring comes along and then remember that we had forgotten to plant our rice. This is all part of life.

But to set psychological goals to escape boredom or for no reason other than pleasure, or a lack of security of what we are or what will become of us, then goals rob us of the real security - our inherent spirituality. Here, within the subtle world of spirituality, goals simply get in the way of the ultimate creativity, the creativity that truly frees us from our bondage. An ultimate creativity far removed from our everyday world that frees us from ourselves - a concept about which a goal setting mind will never have a clue.

It's when we DON'T think about it, and just observe silently, intently, that our lives change. And that change, more often than not, comes out of left field.

Think about it. (Or, maybe . . . don't think about it?)

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.