Wanting and Spiritual Materialism: How Not To Feed The Greed

Wanting and Spiritual Materialism

 

Over the last couple of weeks, I received a variety of emails from people who read my recent blog entries on Tantra. Some were delighted to have greater clarity on the subject, feeling inspired by the idea of the body as a vehicle for the divine and an opportunity to practice witnessing pitfalls along the path. Others felt confused and upset at the idea that Tantra is not a sexual free-for-all. This pushed the button of their attachment to their libido. Everything that pushes our buttons gives us an opportunity to see ourselves in a new way. Aspects of our shadows are being highlighted for us to see, showing us ways in which we are attached to unfulfilled desires that may be outdated or may need voicing.

 

We all have unfulfilled desires. Many spiritual environments become a feeding ground for these, where practitioners may be wearing flowing clothes and chanting prayers, but feeling inwardly tied in knots. Wanting is insidious and we must be aware of it – whether we are in the office, following our creative voice, practicing bendy poses on our yoga mats, or exploring sexuality in our bedrooms.

 

We want. We want more. We get. But it is not enough. So we want more. In a perpetual cycle of wanting, we consciously and unconsciously feed into a human tendency for greed. We feel it is our right to get, so we want. Unaware of how it all started or what makes it continue, we seek external things to temporarily quell the hungry lizards in our bellies and brains, until yet again, we want more.

 

Most of us are unaware that we spend much of the time in a state of wanting, because it is a deeply unconscious part of how we operate. Part of the process of enlightenment seems to be shedding light into areas that are in shadow. Seeing aspects of ourselves that are disconnected can be an uncomfortable process, especially if we feel we have things figured out, we want things to be a certain way, or we are simply attached to wanting.

 

Greed is everywhere. It is easy to see greed present in our consumer world. As spiritual aspirants, we are also asked to witness the tendency for greed in our spiritual pursuits, wanting to be yogis, wanting to find liberation. Fueled by good intentions, our wants don’t end up supporting our evolution, but instead perpetuate a feeling of being disconnected from the perfection of the now. If you have not yet read “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” by Shambhala founder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, it is a classic book on the shadow of the spiritual path, a practical guide for seekers of truth.

 

Though I am not a practicing Christian, I was raised in a Christian home and go to church on high holidays; and the Bible is among the spiritual texts that feed my inner life. To me, the famous Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” speaks of the way we return to wholeness when we turn our hearts to the divine. Wanting ceases. We feel fulfilled in the moment because we are, in truth, in a unified state with pure consciousness, rather than temporarily believing that we are lost, divided and alone.

 

The ego is a tricky and hungry thing that has power only when we feed it. But sometimes – even often – we are unaware we are doing so. Just as a chameleon can change colour to blend with its surrounding, so too our ego can shift and fool us to suit our desires. We may think we are evolving when in fact we are unconsciously justifying our self-serving ego.

 

Our feeling of being disconnected is at the root of our suffering. Wanting feeds our feeling of being disconnected and incomplete. We want, because we feel lack. We wanted a perfect mommy or daddy to make us feel special when we were children, and we still seek that mommy or daddy in our material acquisitions, in our spiritual pursuits, in our friends and life partners.

 

EXERCISE

 

Take a look this week at how wanting is present in your life. I have spoken much of practicing non-resistance to what is in past blogs. Wanting is the exact opposite of non-resistance. When we want, we are either pushing the flow or resisting it. We are in a state of disconnect, feeling lack and wanting more. There is nothing wrong with the desire for fulfillment, when it comes from a relaxed place of joy. When it comes from lack, we are trying to fill ourselves up from a place that does not believe we can be fulfilled, so the cycle continues.

 

It is natural to desire a nice job, car, home, or loving partner. But when we feel that we are not OK without them, then those things possess us, hold us in some way. They become temporary gap fillers and will not bring us the lasting happiness we truly seek. The desire for them will bring about not joy, but suffering.

 

Look for wanting in your life. Begin to notice it at work, at home, with your friends, with family and spouse. Notice it also in your sex life (or absence of one). Wanting has a heyday in the land of the libido. Next week, I will take a look at the power of sex and where sexuality and spirituality meet.

 

Until next Sunday, be well.

Parvati

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

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