Life is not a Race

By Desmond Yeoh

From young, we have been conditioned to compete. We are praised when we win and reprimanded when we lose. In most school systems, we are ranked by the marks we scored, to see what position we are in our class. Our media conditions us to compete; they heap praises on the winners and the losers are not covered at all. When they are covered, the words used are often hurtful.

It is no wonder why we constantly treat our life as a race, either consciously or unconsciously. Even when we drive to work, we often view it as a race. If someone cuts in front of us and we see that he is beating us to the queue, we will inevitably get angry. That is the reason why we hate the rush hour. So, the next time we are caught in the rush hour, it is useful to remind ourselves that life is not a race. Let us enjoy our drive to work. Our mode of transport is significantly more comfortable than those used by our ancestors; so, why can’t we be grateful?

It is bad enough that we constantly race and compare ourselves with others, but we add on to the problem by racing with ourselves. At work, we rush through our task as if there is a lion behind our backs. This not only adds unnecessary stress to our work-life but it deprives us from the joy of working. We do not allow ourselves to make mistakes because in our mind, we are competing with an imaginary perfect being that is flawless. Even superman cannot compete with him/her. We do this even when we are on a holiday!

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This is a disease but we do not see it as such because it is common.  The problem is, when we start to step away from the race, we no longer act like how most people do. To the ‘common people’, we are sick and require help. We need someone to speak to motivate us and pump the so call ‘passion’ back into our life. Do you think that the peaceful ascetics living in the Himalayas and jungles in silent meditation lack passion in their life? They do not lack passion. Their passion for the Divine is limitless.

We all live in a world of contradictions. The material world teaches us to strive to be first. No one remembers the person who came in second. They say, “Do the best and beat the rest”. To do so, we have to wish that something wrong happens to the rest so that we can beat them. This contradicts what our spiritual teachers tell us to do. They tell us to love and serve others. They tell us to help ease the suffering of others. Who are we to listen to? Are we to act like a fighter one day and a servant of mankind another day?

The Spiritual Masters have a solution to this. They tell us to work and put in our best efforts without any expectations of the rewards that we think we deserve. Before we reject this as being an unrealistic expectation, we need to look beyond this material world. Experts in quantum physics states that the universe looks more like a giant ‘thought’ than clumps of matter. Everything is pure and intelligent energy. This cosmic intelligence is the ultimate justice. Understanding this and the law of karma, we can be comforted to know that we can never be ‘underpaid’ for whatever we do. We cannot be deprived of what we have earned.

Similarly, nothing that belongs to us can be taken away from us. If Mr. X is robbed, he can choose to be angry at the robber and hold on to that anger many years after the event; or he could choose to let go of the anger, knowing that whatever that had been taken away from him, without his consent, will be returned to him one way or an0ther. If we can learn to see pass the illusions created by Maya, we can naturally and effortlessly let go of the mental sufferings of the Ego.

Because the whole world is like a huge race, it is filled with a lot of anger and  ill-will. We cannot change this but we can change ourselves. This is what Micheal Jackson bid us to do in his song, ‘The Man in the Mirror’. He sang, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change”.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kay Ku
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 08:07:46

    Thanks for reminding!


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