Fulfilling our Potential

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The 100% Myth
The Virus of Materialism
The Power of Inferiority

 

“I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie.”Rainer Maria Rilke

Do you want to fulfil your potential?

This question is often used as a bait in the field of personal development. It is followed up by the promise to tell us the secrets of how to reach the promised land of fulfilled potential.

Of course we all want it. We can feel our unfulfilled potential as a painful absence. We may experience it as a vague yearning, a desperate need, or even intense suffering. It’s as if some part of ourselves is missing.

I have often felt as if my life only would only start properly after I’ve finally cracked it and managed to ‘fulfil my potential’. Do you know that feeling?

 

The 100% Myth

“It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God.”Mary Daly

Many experts seem to agree that we only use a small amount of our human potential. The estimated percentage is about 2-5%. The remaining 95-98% of our human potential is dormant. The active percentage is so small that we can’t even fully grasp what this means.

This kind of calculation gives the impression as if we need to discover our 95 to 98% of dormant potential, activate it somehow, and realise it — whatever that means. It leaves us with the feeling that our life will never be complete if we don’t manage to realise our dormant potential.

What is this mysterious stuff called potential?

Why does it arouse such a strong and sometimes desperate yearning?

Potential is per definition unfulfilled. Every plant seed carries the dormant potential to grow into a mature specimen. When the plant seed sprouts into a seedling, it looks as if it has activated a small percentage of its potential. The lion’s share that complete the process of growth and makes it for instance into a mature tree still remains to be realised.

When the tree is mature, something curious happens. It produces millions of seeds. Its potential has multiplied beyond belief. Now it has the potential to grow a forest or an orchard, depending on its kind.

Something similar happens with human potential. Every time we realise our potential, it multiplies. As we grow, our potential develops, transforms, expands and changes. There seem to be no limits to the potential growth of human potential.

However, the ratio of  2-5% activated, 95-98% dormant potential is not a helpful gauge for measuring fulfilment. We will never be able to fulfil 100% of our potential. The concept itself is flawed. It is like a mental seed infected with a virus.

 

The Virus of Materialism

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”Mother Teresa

Only the paradigm of materialism produces thoughts of 100% fulfilment. Only in material terms does it appear possible to fill a seemingly empty space 100% with stuff.

We have developed a culture that applies the materialistic paradigm to mental concepts too. Contemporary science strives to know everything.

When we have gathered 100% of our potential knowledge, then our understanding of ourselves and the universe will be complete …, and then what happens?

The hidden agenda behind wanting to have and know everything is ultimately always the desire to be in control. When we know everything, then we can do what we really want; we are free, and secure, and in command of life.

The human genome project has shown that life doesn’t work like that. We expend huge amounts of time, energy, and money striving for this kind of fulfilment that is supposed to give us the freedom and security we want. But it never works.

Rational materialism — applying the materialistic paradigm to the intellect — has revealed that beyond rational knowledge and material wealth and security there are non-rational aspects of our Consciousness, which control our human life.

Emotions, beliefs, and spiritual attachments are far more influential than we originally thought. Now some kind of non-rational materialism is the new frontier. For example:

We want to control our emotions to fulfil our emotional potential for happiness.

We want to transform our beliefs to fulfil our belief potential for success.

We want to claim our spirituality to fulfil our spiritual potential for oneness.

We try to achieve all those goals via familiar material means. For example, we attempt to eliminate what we perceive as ‘bad’ and activate only what we already know and value as ‘good’.

In our desperate attempts to fulfil our potential at all levels — material, mental, emotional, spiritual — we completely miss the mark over and over again. We don’t even notice that nature, and the forces that give us life, are fulfilling their potential perfectly time after time. We could learn so much from them, if we were prepared to let go of the compulsive drive to do everything ourselves.

 

The Power of Inferiority

“A man is deficient in understanding until he perceives that there is a whole cycle of evolution possible within himself: repeating endlessly, offering opportunities for personal development.”Idries Shah

The more we try to control things, the more we seem to lose control. Here are some common false assumptions:

If we knew and could reproduce all the billions of building blocks of our genetic information, then we could prevent disease.

If we managed to keep an eye on all the actions of all the billions of people in the world all the time, then we could prevent crime.

If we had power over all the currencies and resources in the world, then we could prevent poverty.

If we built the most powerful weapons, then we could prevent war.

All these assumptions come from the same immature mindset. We’ve got this image in our minds that we are supposed to be masters of the universe.

We fail to realise that our obsession with superiority is controlled by fear, and our fears are rooted in the belief that we are inferior. We are scared to death by unknown forces beyond our control, such as death itself, disease, terrorism, aliens, and other people.

Paradoxically, our obsession with fulfilling our potential is driven by our sense of inferiority. And it is our experience of inferiority that gets fulfilled over and over again, until we realise that potential fulfils itself quite easily and naturally.

We are tiny cells of individual human Consciousness within the infinite body of absolute Consciousness. The more we learn to see ourselves as the minute specs in the universe, who we effectively are, the more we can relax into our true role of being imperfect and vulnerable humans.

Only if we accept our authentic current state of inferiority, are we able to realise our true potential. Then we can recognise that we are like dormant seeds of human Consciousness with a tremendous potential for growth. Rather than trying to do all the hard work ourselves, we can connect with the natural forces of life that animate all living beings.

Instead of attempting to control our life 100%, we actually only need to do about 2-5% of the work. The remaining 95-98% of growth happens by itself — just like the organic growth of plants and all living beings in the natural world. Our job is to figure out which parts are ours to do, and to fulfil and tend to just those parts of our potential.

 

This article is complemented by an e-letter published on the same date. Our epic letter contains a link to the audio version of this article, a practical exercise, some carefully selected illustrations, and more. This information is available only to the select tribe of our subscribers. If you don’t want to miss our inspiring and exclusive Friday Letters in the future, subscribe now.

 

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