In a part of the Old Testament supposedly written by King Solomon, he warns his followers of the futility of ambition: “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a pursuit of the wind.”
When he quotes this line in The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle notes how frustrating of a realization this must be: “If nothing can give you true fulfillment, what is there left to strive for, what is the point in anything?” Ultimately, it is a crossroads we come to, he believes: “When you reach this point, you are one step away from despair and one step away from enlightenment.”
Imagine a child, literally chasing the wind. What a laughable endeavor! “Stop, child,” you might say. “Don’t you know the wind is so much faster than we are? You can never catch it!” While the child is at least having fun, however, when we chase the wind as adults, we usually do it with gritted teeth. We take it very seriously, despite knowing deep down that it is “a laughable endeavor.”
Want a fast car? You’re chasing the wind. How about a big house? You’re chasing the wind. Do you wish to be famous? You’re chasing the wind. Desperately craving a relationship? You’re chasing the wind. Think perfect abs will get you respect? You’re chasing the wind. Longing for an island vacation? You’re chasing the wind. And if you believe more money would fix all your problems, you are also chasing the wind.
“Things and conditions can give you pleasure, but they cannot give you joy. Nothing can give you joy,” Tolle writes. “Joy is uncaused and arises from within as the joy of Being. It is your natural state, not something that you need to work hard for or struggle to attain.”
You’re already perfect. You have all you’ll ever need. Enjoy everything under the sun, but don’t chase the wind.