Sunday, March 13, 2011

Healing Desires: The Differences Between Urges and the Need for Fulfillment

When someone first moves into a spiritual awakening, the profound  shift is unmistakable. For some, they have that smack of bliss and release from attachment. For others, it's a sudden collapse of their reality and realizing that their lives have been full of pain. For yet others, it can be a simple moment of letting go, and something starts moving from within.

Whatever the moment, you are completely changed, and you know it. From that moment of awakening, that inner change begins to work its magic, and that generally means a whole lot of healing will soon follow.

Yet, many of us try to go back to what we know and are comfortable in. In the collapse of structures (ego, mental, etc.), we suddenly find immense freedom, but almost none of us know what to do with that freedom. It's like giving a kid the keys to the most precious thing in a mansion, but they have no idea what to do with those keys. So they play with them for awhile or go back to bouncing a ball or something. They may even try to forget about those keys. Such is how we seem to be trained.

But the true awakening (that's not just a glimpse of awakening) has an intelligence of its own. Well, it's your intelligence. And it knows how much spiritual healing you need and how you need to grow into the person that you truly want to be. It won't let you forget, and for many of you early in your awakened shift, you may feel like you've just gotten a train and are being railroaded into a brand new direction.

Spiritual Healing and the Dissolution of Desires

Part of this spiritual healing process involves wiping out our wants for things that do not serve us. However, most people have been taught to desire lots of things. Craving is seen as a good thing in much of Western Culture. We're taught to want a spouse, family, six figure job, good teeth, clear complexions, a nice house, and on and on and on. This is why when desires fall away for the first time, it's very much a surreal experience. A lot of those desires never come back. Depending on your awakening, none of them may come back. However, human beings being what they are typically return to those old inner programs of desire. People start grasping for things again, during this healing stripping away process. This is one issue that makes many spiritual awakenings so excruciating.

But let's take a moment here to really be clear about what a desire is. Many people confuse desires with urges. When I am using the term, it means you need something external for your fulfillment. You need something to make you happy. This is different than an urge. An urge is simply the arising of action within you or a basic function of being in a human body (the urge to go to the bathroom, eat, breathe, sleep, etc.) Let's look at an example of this difference between urges and desires.

Spiritual Awakening Scrubbing You Clean

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 social conditioning and emotional training. As such, that 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 healing 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, and this isn't your body or your spiritual awakening punishing you. This is simply your body talking to you, and now you are sensitive enough to actually hear what it is saying.

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. As I said, we're socially conditioned to believe quite the opposite. Not surprisingly, this dissolution of desire is coming at the same time as you're feeling increasingly interconnected to the greater energy of the universe. Connection to everything and yourself fulfills much of the craving because in truth, it's this connection that we've been craving. Illusion cut us off from the source of our greatest sustenance. Everything else on earth has been a weak substitute that can only bring numbness or mask this deeper urge to re-connect with yourself.

Because you're so open in a spiritual awakening, you're also in a very dynamic space of giving and receiving with the universe. So it's easier and natural to feel nourished by all of life. You don't have to do anything to be supported by love. That's one of the big lies many people have to overcome in their spiritual transition. At the same time, when there's upset energy in the world (conflict in Northern Africa, tsunami in Japan, etc.), you may feel it intensely. This gives rise to the urge to help, although we mustn't be too quick to attempt to change life. If we are too quick, then we're having other issues around the desire to help being surfaced.

Understanding the Desire and the Urge to Help Others

Let me be clear that the desire to help and the urge to help are 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. Many, many people on the spiritual path are corrupted by this desire, which is an elaborate feel-good game to hide a lack of self-worth. This issue is simply a reflection that you are not totally unified in your own love. Your craving has simply found a new fix.

The urge to help is the sense that you should do something. There's an inner arising. You do not resist it. You simply follow that arising with no expectation for the outcome. For example, when a woman falls down a flight of stairs, you automatically respond to help her stand up. There's no intention to make yourself feel good; there was simply the response to help. She could be ungrateful, and it does not matter. You did as you felt moved to do, and you continue on throughout your day without fanfare or high-fives over the matter.

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 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 arises when it wants to. It also may come with deeper understandings about when not to help.

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 or play some other seemingly noble game. That desire 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. You sense when to let them go and do that until they truly are ready for help.

It's part of becoming a spiritual adult on the spiritual path to understand that many people need their pain. Some of you are learning that about yourselves. You may start to be seeing how your pain has driven you towards the spiritual path. Otherwise, you would have been too complacent and comfortable with your life. You wouldn't have wanted to rock the boat. You had enough of what you thought wanted and didn't have too much of the stuff you didn't want. Sure, life wasn't really what truly felt enlivening to you, but thems the breaks.

That's the state of many people, and it's why most of them have no interest in spirituality. Until life really drops a big painful hammer on them (even if their lives are actually quite miserable and you can see it), most help will not be engaged with, sought, appreciated, or accepted. Only in situations where people are in physical danger do we reach out, but even then, there's no guarantees. It's best to simply listen to your intuition and trust that implicitly. There is a grander intelligence at work in the work, and humility teaches us that pain is a central piece of that plan on the Earth.

Life Becomes Simpler Without Desire

In every way, awakening makes life simpler. Most of your desires drop away. Shopping at malls, going to rock concerts, earning awards, seeking out relationships, and other stuff just don't matter when you are connected to your own love and the love of the universe. In deep connection, there is no difference between you and the universe. However, our old thinking patterns don't typically go away for ever. We re-commission them, and they then run around in our old mental patterns. People become confused that they don't want anything--at least not from most of the choices offered by society. Society's consumeristic mentality won't make any sense to you. You are likely to find that you no longer fit in the with the current cultural schema, and that soon churns up deeper core issues with feeling like an outcast.

As you can see, each time you work through an issue, another hidden issue can be found. You may find that this can take you down a very deep rabbit hole, but my friends, it is worth it. Your freedom, love, and inner peace are absolutely worth it.

Continuing to Desire, Crave, and Cling

However, as I've said, social conditioning runs deep, and this means that most of you won't be okay with not having desire (and this is different than people who have no motivation or self-will--that's a different issue). 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 that is free of desire. (I encourage you to check out this blog about that topic: Freedom From Desire).

If you're in awakening and struggling to understand how to operate in the world, let go. Just let go. You are perfectly here and now. You're discovering 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 inner awareness will naturally offer little urges and inspirations to move you gently where you truly want to go to best follow your spiritual path in this lifetime.

Thanks to Arran Edmonstone for today's picture. You can see more of his photography on this Flickr link
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