It occurred to me while I was at the bar that some goods can only be attained absent of the immediate intention to have that good. At the moment the most obvious one was humility. It is nice for me to decide that I am not a very humble person and would like to, and perhaps to carry that consciousness around with me and to set up trying to attain it; however in order to be humble it is necessary to lose a sense of myself as a person who is humble or not humble. Humility seems to be a virtue which happens vicariously, especially when the invest yourself fully in some worthy activity. It requires a certain kind of losing of preoccupation with the self and its status, but instead a face-to-face encounter with the greater-than. Humility is the limp that one gains in wrestling with an angel; it is not the blessing which one demands of the angel.
So people have told me that only when they no longer cared whether they would fall in love that they did. So others have told me that only when they have ceased being concerned with finding happiness that they found it.
Attention and consciousness is a mental program which is initiated by an unsettled state of affairs. Our focus is pulled onto that problem in an effort to detect the source and the solution. Self-consciousness is tripped when a problem with the self is detected. When you are not happy then you were aware of the thing called happiness, and you desire to be happy. Happiness is the one thing which utterly defines the situation you are in, and happiness as a goal fills up your field of consciousness. But if happiness can only be found by not seeking happiness, then you are in trouble. This may be way Zen Buddhism practices the attainment of non-attainment. What more do we have that we ought to give over? I’m afraid that the quest for self-actualization is in the end a vacuous quest. If the ‘self’ is what we aim for, then we should not be surprised if we end up thoroughly self-involved. But Jesus says, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.