What is the difference between ambitions and ideals? Ideals are personal guidelines or aspirations we choose to set for ourselves by which we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Inevitably they encompass efforts at self-improvement, bringing us to direct our energies outward, away from oursleves, always ready to consider the welfare of others, whereby we become ever more useful, contributong members of the whole – better able to serve the horse, and to benefit those whom we meet, not only with our unique skills but with kindness, generosity and helpfulness. Through ambitions, on the other hand, I believe we tend to draw our energies inward to serve mainly ourselves, satisfying our desire for self-aggrandizement, fame, power, control, or for the accumulation of material wealth – usually gained at the expense of our fellow man, the creatures, or the environment. Ideals, therefore, embody a desire for spiritual transcendence, inclusiveness and unification; whereas ambitions tend to be characterized by material expansion but at the cost of spiritual contraction, separation and fragmentation.
I believe that, when all is said and done, the only thing that will truly count will be what residue, beneficial or ruinous, our actions and efforts will have left on the souls of those around us, and on the creatures with whom we have dealt during our lives.
Erik Herbermann, A Horseman’s Notes