Sunday, March 13, 2011
Healing Desires: The Differences Between Urges and the Need for Fulfillment
Dissolution of Desires
When desires fall away for the first time, it's very much a surreal experience. A lot of them never come back. Depending on your awakening, none of them may come back. When I write about desire, I am using the term in the sense that you need something external from you for your fulfillment. This is different than an urge to eat, but let's look at that distinction for a moment. In many ways, your relationship with food gets fundamentally changed with awakening. Before you might have had the desire to get a hamburger, but that food choice is built up off of so much social conditioning and emotional training that it may not be the right food for you at all. In many respects, people in this society use food to hold down emotions. After awakening, a lot of what was holding stuff down will be gone. That's why initially there can be a lot of upset feelings during the transition as you let go of and release so much stored pain. With the pain gone, the need for mechanisms to hold the pain down are gone. So the desire for a hamburger may be gone from you permanently.
Which leaves you with the urge to eat being very clean and clear. You'll eat very differently without the heavy layer of desire coating everything. You won't need a particular feeling from your food--you won't need it to make you feel good. You will simply need it to satisfy your hunger and replenish your body. Your body's intelligence is very active after awakening, so it also becomes very easy to tell if a food is or is not what you truly need. If an old desire or mental idea of what you think will fulfill you remains, when you eat that item, you may not feel good. You may even feel sick.
Urges That Remain: Far Fewer Than You Could Imagine
One of the things about having all or being in the process of having all your desires released is that you realize how little the external world has for you. This is shocking. It's coming at the same time as you're feeling increasingly interconnected and dependent on the greater energy of the world. It's one of the many paradoxes of awakening; you don't need anything from the world, but you feel everything. And because you're so open, you're also in a very dynamic giving and receiving energy from the world and the universe. When there's upset energy in the world (conflict in Northern Africa, tsunami in Japan, etc.), you feel it intensely. This gives rise to the urge to help.
There is the desire to help and the urge to help, and they're fundamentally different things. The desire to help wants a favorable outcome. When you hand out something to a homeless person and he spits on you, you're upset because you're not appreciated. You were looking for appreciation all along. That sullies the intent to help, and in many ways, it's just another ego game to serve yourself and make you feel good. The urge to help is simply the sense that you should do something. When a woman falls down a flight of stairs and you automatically respond to help her stand up, that's very clean. There's no intention to make yourself feel good; there was simply the response to help.
Knowing When to Help and When Not to
And it's not like the distinction between desires and urges is clean over night. Initially, anyone's desire to help is probably a good step in the right direction, but you will have to work through it to figure out what's going on there. For someone in awakening, the urge to help simply becomes what is. It comes from a profound sense of service, integrity, and love. It's just how people are wired deep down past the gunk, conditioning, and karma. It can also come with deeper understandings about when not to help.
Being in awakening taps you into inner guidance that's very clear about when to lend a hand and when it's time for a person to struggle because that's their path. The desire to help would have you immediately helping everyone because, once again, it's just trying to make itself feel good or do the right thing. It doesn't actually have much clarity on anything. But in awakened awareness, you learn to honor that some people walk a path of pain and sadness, and you know when to let them go and do that until they truly are ready for help--yours or very likely their own.
Life Becomes Simpler Without Desire
In every way, awakening makes life simpler. For me, it's about community and love. When I teach, I teach from a space of love. That's the only way to do it and truly teach. Otherwise, I'm just another pedantic pedagogue doing the same old thing to my students. Instead, I continue to learn how to help through love and allowing my students' self-discoveries. Ultimately, it's what helped me the most and continues to help me the most.
All the other desires drop away. Shopping at malls, going to rock concerts, earning awards, seeking out relationships, and other stuff just don't matter. It makes the transition odd because you kinda don't want to do anything--at least not from most of the choices that society gives you. Society's consumeristic mentality won't make any sense to you. The entire economy is essentially glorifying desire. You take that away, and you no longer fit in the current schema.
But the current schema is already pretty messed up with wars and pain, so as people awaken and lose their illusions, that old way of being is already being broken apart. It's time for it to go. It's time to embrace this new part of your life. If you're in awakening and struggling to understand how to operate in the world, let go. Just let go. You are perfectly healthy now. Now you've realized how sick you were before. Now you've realized how all desire ever got you was a feeling of lack and that you never had enough or could find fulfillment. With spiritual awakening, you've found your fulfillment, and your path and what to do next will soon become clear.
Thanks to Arran Edmonstone for today's picture. You can see more of his photography on this Flickr link.