Each of us has the power to participate joyfully in creating the world in which we live. What, then, prevents us from doing so?
There are a number of aphorisms on this topic. "Curiosity killed the cat." "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." "Be careful: you might get what you wish for."
Why is it so hard? How do we become blocked from expressions of our higher purpose? As I have said: we are involved in a process of negotiation. As a consequence, there are internal and external barriers to our progress.
What blocks us as individuals?
Suffering. We feel pain, but we do not interpret it simply as a guide to the investment of our energy. We take it as a judgment. In part, this is a psychosis of religion. In a common formulation: bad things happen to us because we have been impure in thought or action, and they will not cease until we correct the imbalance inside. In discussing wellness, I will explain when and how this is true. But in general, pain is a signal. It is something that demands a change of us. The only failure is in refusing to tackle the challenge of growth that it demands.
Words. We abstract reality through words, and apply the mechanism of logic to deduce the possibilities that are open to us. We discount imaginings that we can't justify logically: when the child confesses to imagining her father's murder, we discount and do not adequately address her culpability.
Furthermore, abstraction limits our grasp of the facts, and cannot capture the vibrancy of our experience of the future. When we rely upon words, we may falter when we encounter details that do not match our models. (A favorite complaint of my romantic interests was that I "thought too much.")
Competition. Comparison is an essential part of maturation. When we recognize our uniqueness, we can more readily find a community of peers with whom we can exchange value. Through comparison, our association with exceptional individuals also encourages us to stretch our talents into new dimensions.
In the immature, comparison is focused towards external qualities. When our reflex is to compete with others, the things that we observe about them determine our self-worth. As a generalization, people generate remarkable external qualities to compensate for internal lack. Those qualities are a kind of personal armor to cover their needs as a personality. When we compete with their external image, we allow those qualities to direct our energies. Their weakness defines our self-image. We allow our future to be controlled by the limitations of those around us.
In the big picture, the goal is not to be better than someone else, but to better us individually. We keep score. When we learn to stop keeping score competitively, we enter the state of dignity - a recognition of commensuration between our material and spiritual situations. Even when faced with difficulties, we interpret them as an opportunity to deepen our personality, rather than as unfair impositions by a reality that does not care. We then learn to appreciate class as a quality of character in others. Class is a projection of inner qualities that conserve and extend dignity. It demands things of people only after allowing them the opportunity to assess and accept the consequences of the commitment, and gracefully deflects demands that would unbalance our own dignity.
Indulgence. We are prejudiced to believe that the reality we inhabit in the here and now is fundamental and essential. Pain and pleasure have a lot to do with this. When we suffer with pain, it propagates our expectation of pain across the dimensionality of our reality. It divorces us from our spiritual associations, and therefore from the resources we need to survive. It makes pain seem more important then it really is. When we experience pleasure selfishly, it prevents our happiness from deepening into joy. Joy is the state of mutual expectancy and commitment to creating ever-deepening experiences of pleasure. In both situations (the experience of pain or pleasure), maturity in the allocation of priorities is essential to protect us from the consequences of indulgence.