Is seeking an end in and of itself or a means to an end?

You know pinball stories? It’s common when communicating informally in small groups. Like monkey mind, only with others. Metaphorically speaking, one person launches the collective pinball with an energizing story or theme. It whizzes through the pair or group, connecting with a paddle, bell, or bit of elastic, which triggers another story or theme. And on it goes. Each change of direction and force keeps the ball in play. When there’s a dud, the ball descends sadly into the abyss of non-storiness.

Pinball stories are about being compelled by the force and direction of connected stories and themes. It’s a powerful form of connecting with others and what they proffer. We do something similar when we go from subject to subject in life, by which I suggest one interpretation of seeking is as an end in and of itself.

It can also be the case however that seeking as an end makes us dependent, perhaps even unwittingly, on coercion to prompt us to focus our attention. Charismatic personalities and gizmos with built in rewards are obvious examples of how seeking as an end leads to rewards that are short-lived, short-sighted, or both.

Worse case scenario with seeking as an end is that our connection with our own inner guidance system gets lost or overwhelmed in a jungle of undigested feedback. Of course the value of pinball stories is not an either/or proposition. Being able to connect with others and “go with the flow” in conversations can be a joy and an art. To the degree we are able to trust completely that we will avoid compromising ourselves, pinball stories can be both entertaining and informative. But we absolutely must be attentive to maintaining a certain level of competence.

We must be able and willing to address coercion and agendas that enter the game which might put us at risk of corrupting the spirit of connection to what is beyond the seeking. This to me suggests an interpretation of seeking as a means to an end, that end being uncompromised connection to directly experienced, sublimely true states of Being. To engage this possibility, develop faith that such experiences are themselves the key to true connection beyond pinball stories, and with more of the whole of existence.

When one resolves to seek nothing, isn’t that an oxymoron? Not if you ask the makers of PinBox 3000. Designing your own pinball game using what you have on hand is like seeking nothing. It means embracing your inner Maker.

As a side note, I am moved to put in a plug for these local legends — Burlington, VT USA’s own PinBox professors. People have a lot of fun with this. Pete gave me a personal demonstration at last year’s Arts Riot. He could effectively target the pinball anywhere he wanted with total casual acumen on any of the two dozen customized boards on display. My eyes widened in amazement. “That wasn’t just a lucky shot was it,” I said. He got a twinkle in his eye and grinned wryly.

Original publish date Jan 2, 2018

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