It took me a while to understand the difference between these two motivations to perform a task. Most of us, without realizing it, go about our day acting out of in order to. We get up in order to go to work or take care of our children – not for its own sake but in order to pay the bills or fulfill on an obligation.
By acting out of in order to, the richness of life is missed. Imagine a day during which all, or even just some, of your activities are performed for their own sake. From this perspective, the activity is pure and unencumbered by the automatic ego needs. Any action or creative expression done only for the ego falls flat. The ego is never satisfied. The ego only wants more of every single thing and it wants it now, if not yesterday.
I am talking about one aspect of the ego here. The ego in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact it is necessary to have an ego; you just don’t want it to be in control of all aspects of your life. And, this is the point. When doing something for ego reasons in order to (get more, have more, be more, etc.), there is less inner fulfillment and more of the constantly comparing, judging and assessing.
For its own sake comes from a higher level of consciousness. Unlike the ego, this is not automatic, at least not in our culture. My hope is that, with practice, lots and lots of practice, this way of living life can become more automatic.
So what is the feeling of doing something for its own sake? Complete, enough, calm, flowing, natural, and organic are words that come to mind. This does not mean perfect, exact, finished – these are words the ego would be looking for.
For its own sake has a meditative quality, a knowing that there is no beginning or ending, there is just now.
For its own sake is giving and receiving seamlessly. There is no expectation of reward because the action (or non-action) is the reward. There is faith that whatever outcome may come from a particular long-term project will find its way … or not; however; this does not lessen the preciousness of the action being taken now. For its own sake doesn’t require patience; it is patience – not a superimposed demand for patience, but a patience that comes from knowing that all things are in perfect balance and it is only the ego that tells us otherwise.
Practice watching, or more importantly, feeling, the energy behind the actions taken today. Try to find some small way to do something for its own sake. The reward for this kind action is the prize in the Cracker Jack® box.