Our daily lives are often filled with seemingly invisible “tradeoffs” or micro-decisions that we make. These decisions are partly affected by the mental and emotional state that we may be in, in the moment that we make the decision.
Do we hit the snooze button once or twice and sleep the extra few minutes, or do we decide to wake up and invest those few extra minutes ‘gained’ by setting the proper tone for our day ahead?
Do we choose to continue to add to our theretical database and knowledge of a particular field, or do we say that we now ‘know enough’ to focus more on actual practice and ‘work experience’?
Do we tend to focus more on the ‘short term’ affects of our daily decisions (do what makes us feel good NOW) or do we give more weight to the ‘long term’ impact of our choices?
Do we pay more attendtion to the means, the ways, our paths – or do we ignore the means because “the means justify the ends’, so any path is adequate?
The above are just some of the tradeoffs we often make. Depth versus breadth. Change versus tradition. Chance versus control. Community versus individual. Quality versus quantity. And there are many more that I am sure that you can think of.
It should come as no surprise that we tend to make a lot of these tradeoffs without even giving them much thought. Our habits, beliefs, values, finances and the amount of time and space available to us may determine the tradeoff. A tradeoff that we were willing ot make a decade, or even a year ago, may be unacceptable to us today.
Perhaps the same is true of our spiritual practice(s). As we (hopefully) grow through our chosen path (by paying attention to the means), our practice(s) evolve too. It isn’t that one way or means is ‘better’ than another. It is more that we may outgrow certain practices because we graduate to the next grade of practice. We may have loved kindergarten, and our teachers there, but we end up trading time and our comfort space in kindergarten for a higher grade – a bigger challenge, an oportunity to learn and practice more, to be challenged to climb to the next plateau.
Consider and evaluate. What tradeoffs have you made in your (spiritual) life over the past year that have made you, and those around you, ‘better’? Are there any tradeoffs that have had the opposite effect of ‘betterment’? What are a few habits and beliefs that you could change so that you would ascend to the next plateau? Or are you choosing the tradeoff of holding on to ‘tradition’ in favor of change?
As Swami Vivekananda once said – “We do not evolve from error to truth. We evolve from (lower) truth to (higher) truth”. The corollary is that no matter the tradeoff we choose, we are not in error. We are simply evolving from one truth to another.
And so what if one evolves more slowly than another? “The more we keep engagingwith the flowers of spiritual practice, the more fragrance shall remain in our hands…”
P.S. Join us Sunday, August 13th at 9amET / 1pm UTC for our weekly twitter chat in #SpiritChat – we will talk about the tradeoffs between cookies and fruit, tea and coffee, and more 🙂