A typical American, or anyone basically in society, is not living in reality. He or she is living in a false imaginary hope system. The neurotic society, with its so called civilization, culture, educational system implants on you the ghostlike symbols of ambition, and presents them as reality. You start becoming attached to the false symbols of ambition (which comes again from the poisons of comparison and jealously which I alluded to in previous chapters). It presents ambition as this strange esoteric valiant motive when all it is is something to make you work harder for the machine that society built to maintain its engine of growth.
From birth, society tells the child to become ambitious, which means to live in hope. To be ambitious means to have your present moments become sacrificed for the hope of a better tomorrow. But your present moment is all there is where you can live. You cannot forever live for tomorrow, because your tomorrows can never come except in the form of the present moment! Think about that for a moment. Your today is all there ever is. All there will ever be. This…present…moment. I studied this in some Physics texts about the future and the past and the present. And the future and the past are completely imaginary, as they only exist in thought content.
From birth, you are told that what a person has today is not enough. You are essentially conditioned, hyponitized. It tells you to become rich, seize your moment, become some powerful person, or you will never be happy. But the wonder of it all is that a person already has the chance to be happy, without all the false ambition. Society tells you that only if you have a big house, a nice car, a nice white picket fence around your house, only then can you be happy. “Only if” or “If only”… those deadly words that crush happiness. But being happy has nothing to do with all these false ideals. Happiness is not being on time, being so efficient, being successful, achieving so much, and getting into a great university. Happiness is in your very nature.
Lin Yu Tang, a Chinese philosopher, wrote that man is the only working animal. The only unhappy animal. He also wrote that “The three greatest American virtues is that 1) They always want to be on time, 2) They always want to be the most efficient, and 3) They strive for success and achievement beyond all else.” Then, wisely, he wrote that those are also the three greatest American vices, but that is what makes Americans so miserable and nervous all the time. And he wrote these quotes in his book, “The Importance of Living” back in 1927, almost a hundred years ago to this day. Not much has changed…except maybe gas and food prices.