Creation, Maintenance, and Destruction.
It appears that our purpose here is pretty simple, and can be expressed in a list of two:
2. Love ourselves and all others.
Actually, we can omit list entry one, because it is a subset of list entry two. Because of the way we are made, we seem happiest when we are creative. Maintenance does not make us happy; it just keeps the status quo going. It is based on fear: the fear of losing something we have, or of not getting something we want.
Maintenance is the necessary act of carrying out the practical aspects of one’s life. It includes our jobs, our chores, our domestic duties. Neglect of these tasks can lead to great discomfort and eventually, suffering. But they are not our primary purpose and rarely reward us with joy.
Joy comes to us as a result of creativity. The act of planning and planting a garden, the preparation of opening a small business, writing the script for the movie we long to see, creating a song where there had been silence, preparing a sumptuous meal for family or friends, these are all creative pursuits.
We can engage in destruction when it becomes necessary to clear space for new growth or to dismantle that which has lived on past its “use-by” date. This sort of occasionally appropriate action rarely results in happiness. If it becomes habitual, destruction can result in wreckage to ourselves and to others around us that will need to be dealt with later at great cost.
One of the keys to a happier existence is to engage the creative instinct in all aspects of daily life.
If I have a maintenance task to do, say, balancing my checkbook, and I become fully present and aware while doing it, it is enjoyable. If I insist on “multitasking,” such as carrying on one task while planning another, I will perform both badly.
If I engage in necessary destruction, I also need to give it my full attention and make sure the seductive aspects of it don’t hold my ego hostage. I need to maintain a compassionate and mindful stance in the presence of a destruction operator.
Our daily meditation practice makes all of this discernment possible.
Reliable discernment powers require that we not depend on the murky wishes of the ego. We want to see clearly and be prepared to act decisively and compassionately.