Beautifully written, please enjoy these words of wisdom:
“I shall the effect of this good lesson keep, As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven; Whiles, like a puff’d and reckless libertine, Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, And recks not his own rede.”
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, spoken by Ophelia
Since the 1600’s when Shakespeare first coined the term “primrose path” in Hamlet, and used it again later in Macbeth, people have used this famous idiom when referring to “taking the easy path to hell”, “the road to nowhere” or “the pathway of futility”.
Most people innocently live their lives walking – often sprinting — on a primrose path paved with their preferences, wants, needs, desires and obsessions. Unfortunately, it is an insidiously logical way to live in our world today. It seems perfectly rational to believe that those who find ways to fulfill the greatest number of their needs and desires are happiest. People who have the most unmet needs in their lives are the unhappiest.
Of course that’s true.
So we establish our ideals around what our lives and circumstances should be, set goals, pursue them, achieve them – and we are happy… right? Well, we all know that it doesn’t quite work that way. All too often, we set our goals and work toward them – sometimes for a very long time – only to achieve them and find that, not only did it not make us happy, but we’re disappointed. Sometimes we are even distraught.
Usually we assume that ‘something’ is that we simply established the wrong goals (wants, needs, desires) in the first place. Yeah, that’s it. So we dutifully re-think things a little, establish new desires and goals, and start the process all over again. This cycle can be repeated for years… often for a lifetime.
Armed with an understanding of The Three Principles, one realizes that this whole process and belief system is upside-down and that life is actually an inside-out proposition.
When we understand The Principles, we realize that people aren’t unhappy because their needs aren’t met. Rather, people perceive wants, needs and desires because they are unhappy. In other words, they have lost touch with their innate sense of peace and contentment – their birthright—and they convince themselves it’s because they lack certain “stuff”.
The Principles help us to see clearly that by putting our attention on our perceived wants and needs, we give them life and control over us by allowing them to pull us farther and farther away from that peace. When we approach those wants and needs with understanding, humility and humor, we see that the only “problem” is that we’ve tricked ourselves into believing that they are real when in actuality they are just made up illusions – products of our personal thinking, run amok.
Through our humility and humor, we recognize that we are simply caught up in these illusions and we are walking down a primrose path toward, in the best case, disappointment and futility — or, in the worst case, suffering and “hell”.
As we remove our attention and energy from our illusory, made-up preferences, wants, needs and obsessions — and see them as thought – everything changes. Suddenly, we are free to be in the moment and to be fully connected to life and to our innate peace, fulfillment and mental health. This is our natural state – uncontaminated by phony, ego-driven demands.
Amazingly, just understanding this is enough. Once we see it, we naturally and automatically become more open to and touched by life, and we easily embrace whatever comes our way. And we experience the deep feelings of peace and contentment that are available to us in every moment.
As our understanding deepens, our wants, needs and desires – which once seemed so crucial to our happiness — are “downgraded” to the lowly title of preferences… or they dissolve altogether. Obsessions disappear; debilitating addictions are stopped in their tracks. All of it just seems so silly when juxtaposed with the deep abiding peace that lives in the place that we never left.
And we will live in that place… until we think we don’t.
Inevitably, we will be seduced again by ego thoughts and we will take another stroll down that primrose path – paved with a new set of wants, needs and desires – or maybe the same old ones we’ve walked on over, and over and over.
But there may well be a spring in our step now, because the more aware that we are of how this all works, each trip will be marked by fewer and fewer steps.
Until, perhaps, one day we will choose to walk the primrose path no more.