“…When you do everything as an end in itself, you liberate yourself.”
This is the second part of the principle of immediate action, and perhaps the most important, because at least in my case it opened the door to an unusual and revelatory understanding.
When I started working every week with the principles of valid action and in particular with this one, my efforts were concentrated in the first part, which says “When you pursue an end, you chain yourself…”
And of course it was clear and obvious that pursuing any object created by the imagination or by compensation led me straight to everything related to desires, frustrations, false hopes, escapism of every kind, and the consequent enchainment characteristic of material and immaterial acts and objects. Understanding something so obvious wasn’t all that interesting until one day it changed.
It happened one morning when the garbage disposal connected to the dishwasher finally broke, and without a penny to spare, and pressed by the circumstances, my partner and I decided to do all the work of taking it out and thoroughly cleaning it, as well as of taking out the automatic dishwasher that had stopped working years ago.
For some not-so-obvious reason, I approached the job with a positive attitude and full of curiosity and interest in something that under normal circumstances would have been worthy only of a few expletives. These were not normal circumstances. At least internally I was observing something without judgment, and that observation was extended to the entire dismantling process.
There, covered with grease and decomposed food, and with only a very dim flashlight and few available tools, we worked without haste until we got everything out, and replaced the pipes and the entire system, making the welcome discovery that the automatic dishwasher had stopped working only because it was connected to the automatic disposal.
In the midst of all this mess I realized the true meaning of doing something as an end in itself. It had nothing to do with morality, or spirituality, or guilt, or anything like that. It was just being in the present with my whole being. Fueled by observation, that presence stopped all projections into the future and gave me the clear register that it was an end-in-itself. I contemplated various mental acts, but without much identification. Almost like watching a movie of my mental contents. So, observing everything but focusing my interest on the dishwasher, I felt happy and free internally. I felt like I could learn without limits and like all I had to do was develop that attitude that regardless of its apparent importance, any activity, any chore, was an opportunity to practice presence.
In this process that has taken a little more than a year, I have been discovering many details connected to this attitude toward being in the world, but I think I have gone on long enough and had better leave those for another reflection. Yes, I want to mention that other people have also had this experience, among them my friend Roberto Verdecchia in Canada, whose understanding and experience prompted me to write down my own… Thank you Roberto!