Liberation: Breaking the Binding
Influence of Action
By Keith R. Parker
The compulsive shopper exemplifies bondage to action. To fulfill the pressing need for contentment, the compulsive shopper makes a purchase. True to expectation, the purchase — say, a gold Rolex — brings some level of satisfaction. In time satisfaction born by the newness of the purchase wears thin leaving an impression of emptiness and dissatisfaction deep within the mind. This impression rises to the surface level of the mind as a desire to again fulfill the need for contentment. Desire leads to action to make another purchase — say, a diamond toe ring. The diamond ring also fails to provide the lasting contentment sought. Again, the impression of dissatisfaction seeds desire to make another purchase. And on it goes. This endless cycle of
grips the shopper in the “binding influence of action.” The compulsive shopper remains bound in an unfulfilling and endless cycle of actions searching for contentment through subsequent purchases.
Similar to the compulsive shopper we seek lasting contentment through our attraction to the things that make us happy. The power of attraction lies within objects of the senses: a shiny red sports car, a more rewarding job, new running shoes, a romantic vacation in Paris…. The moment an appealing object comes to our attention, the quality of attraction in the object fuels desire and action to possess it.
In expecting to find contentment “out there” in objects of the senses, we look in the wrong direction. Contentment lies within. The oft-quoted Biblical proverb is correct, The kingdom of heaven lies within you. Ephemeral happiness and satisfaction may lie within objects of the senses, but not contentment. Lasting contentment lies within you.
Even knowing this, we continue to look for contentment in the things that make us happy. We wrongly assume temporal happiness begets lasting contentment. Such is the strength of our inclination to realize contentment. We grab onto those things that make us happy.
Taking action to possess an object we desire, our attention flows outward, away from inner contentment, the very goal we seek. One fruitless action leads to another and another. The goal remains elusive. We keep trying. The binding influence of action glues us to a cycle of impression-desire-action and keeps us on the treadmill of life. Unfulfilled and fruitlessly seeking contentment in objects of the senses, we live in bondage to action. We live in ignorance, looking for something where we know it doesn’t exist.
Serving other's desires liberates us from the binding influence of action. The intended outcome belongs to those we serve, not us. Their desire fuels our actions. Our desire to achieve lasting contentment evaporates the instant we act to serve others: we break the cycle of impression-desire-action at the level of desire. We abandon selfish actions to achieve lasting contentment in objects of the senses, liberating us from the binding influence of action.
Liberated through actions to serve others, the mind ceases its outward flow of attention towards objects of the senses. The natural inclination of the mind to achieve contentment pulls our attention inwards. There is no other direction for the mind to go in its relentless search but inward. The mental chitter-chatter, our attention jumping from one uninvited thought to another and the binding circularity of chasing actions to achieve contentment vaporize. We instantly transcend to inner contentment. Proof: hold the door open for someone.
A contented mind is a balanced mind. Contentment is equilibrium enjoying itself. A balanced mind manifests out of that equilibrium. Contentment is unbounded, dimensionless and absolute. Balance taps into the limitlessness of contentment and fuels actions to achieve, enjoy and evolve to higher levels of contentment and balance.
A balanced mind holds steady through ups and downs, progress and reversals, support and opposition, increase and forfeiture…all the conflicting dualities associated with living and accomplishing outcomes. Balanced, we’re open to intuition and guidance; heart and mind inform in equal measure. We take surprises (good, bad and awful) in stride. Intellect steadies and we easily discern what is real and true. Fear, anger and anxiety, lose their grip. We keep our eye on the ball. A balanced mind seethes to accomplish outcomes.
We enliven contentment and balance of mind by serving others. In performing actions to serve other’s desires we break the cycle of impression-desire-action at the level of our desire to achieve contentment in objects of the senses. The mind ceases its outward flow and turns within in its search for contentment. We find it where it has always been, deep within. Contentment begets balance. Through repeated acts of service we establish balance of mind.
For an in-depth understanding of the relationship between service to others and balance of mind, read In the Groove of Service.
Keith R. Parker’s interests lie in understanding, simplifying and communicating complex systems of western and eastern philosophy. In the Groove of Service, which you can freely read online, explains the simple mechanics of how we liberate ourselves from ignorance and achieve inner contentment through acts of service to others.