Ask: Can you comment on the satisfaction of accomplishment as a trap?

The other day was for me one of those high energy days where I found myself engaged in one project after another, mostly home improvement and maintenance type things. I felt no resistance and at the end of the day I experienced what is typically referred to as "the satisfaction of accomplishment" - a type of high that most people regard as oh so healthy. While there is nothing wrong in taking care of business, being creative etc., there can be a negative flip side if, on those languid days when we feel no motivation or energy, we feel guilt as though "We've let someone down". (Who?) Being busy as a way of earning peace is a trap because it is only a facsimile of peace. It is no different than the Buddhist concept of "earning merits" for this or another life or any form of "righteous behavior" called for by other religions, or ideologies. They all perpetuate and reinforce guilt.” – ES

Yes, temporary satisfaction, for whatever reason, is not true peace. It is simply the result of accomplishment, as you explained, or the personal thought system (ego) getting its way in something.
However, I think you are confusing two different motivations here. Being busy to attain satisfaction is different from being busy to stave off guilt. There is also another motivation for busy-ness: To avoid looking at something in one’s mind. So let’s look at each of these:
Busy-ness for satisfaction is actually just a part of being human so there is no guilt involved in this. It is natural as a person to feel satisfied when you have accomplished something. If it wasn’t for that sense of satisfaction we wouldn’t be motivated to do anything! It’s only a problem if one makes an idol of accomplishing things in the hope it would lead to lasting peace. But because this wouldn’t work it wouldn’t last as an idol for long. As with all idols it would eventually lead to a sense of emptiness and disillusionment rather than peace.
Busy-ness to stave off guilt does come, as you said, from a need to accomplish to appease a power outside and over you – a god. Of course, a person is not usually conscious of trying to appease a god. All they know is if they are not busy they feel guilty or their self-esteem plummets. They don’t examine this. They are just driven by the guilt to remain busy. And even if they did examine it they may not be in touch with a belief that there is a god sitting in judgment on them. But, of course, the guilt is the sign that this is exactly what they do unconsciously believe!

Busy-ness to avoid examining something in one’s own mind is very common. Sometimes people know why they want to keep busy, like when they are openly grieving a loss. However, unacknowledged grief is very often why people don’t want to be still. And besides grief, there are a whole host of things in a person’s mind that they may not want to look at so they avoid stillness and keep themselves busy.

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patricia said…
If there are only two emotions, then satisfaction seems to be on the side of Love, where DISsatisfaction would be on the side of fear. I think of satisfaction as a synonym for peace. Once upon a time, I heard this said: "Contentment is the highest form of spiritual attainment." - Prem Rawat
hannah said…
how do you move past the belief/feeling that there is there such a thing as wasted time?

that feeling of guilt for non accomplishment, while i often feel it in regard to my life in general, feels most acute in light of my identifying as a student of the course. id welcome the feeling of accomplishment, as the feeling im wasting my time brings intense terror, which always then shifts into what i call the unattached, no-reason, or floating terror, the feeling that goes beyond attachment to whats happening or not.. (oh... i just hada fleeting experience of the feeling, and there was a feeling of.. the guilt not being about my life, but just about me being.) and ive HAD an experience which showed me beyond the shadow of doubt that time isnt real at all, and yet i dont want to waste it.. and i dont know how not to waste it, or what those phrases/experiences could even mean!!!

i just got a bit clearer, that i feel im wasting my time feeling unhappy, not wasting my time doing or not doing any particular thing.
hannah said…
more accurate to say identifying as desiring peace than identifying as an acim student
hannah said…
ah sheesh.. went from here to facebook.. and the post on my screen (pic of jamie from outlander) said 'how dare you waste this'.. :D
will said…
The very fact that you are experiencing those thoughts and feelings is your validation that you are right on track with the course. If you were always talking about how beautiful things are, then there would be reason to worry.
will said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
will said…
Well I had to delete that last comment. I was speaking like someone who has had experiences with the HS that I have not had. I was just repeating what I've read or heard. Slippery slope.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, you just described the generalized guilt of the ego. At first it seems to attach to something (in this instant, not accomplishing, whatever that means). But then it revealed itself as really not attached to anything. Guilt is simply the core experience of the ego.

You will let go of guilt/ego when the Truth is true for you and you can see that guilt is not real. If you have not you may want to read my book, "Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace". It explains how to undo your belief in guilt.
Jack said…
I have actually practiced mindfulness and I happen to saying that it is the best thing that you could do, it has the potential to completely change your life inside and out, and I would suggest everyone to do it.
Unknown said…
Perfectly expressed, thank you.
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