Two of the most powerful self-limiting strategies must be that of need and want, especially when fuelled by a sense of lack, of “not enough”. After all they are thoughts that not only fuel much of our economics and politics at the macro level but also, at the micro level, for some it drives the need to meet every-day needs in order to survive, and for others to satisfy the seemingly insatiable hunger for more and more of the material trappings of life. It is so pervasive that we don’t think of questioning it, but instead we assume it to be part of us, who we are.

To get a sense of how destructive wanting can be, it can be useful to write down all things that you want. The fantasy of winning the lottery is one such example: can’t we all do that big time, filling our thoughts with the splurge of materialism? Also we might be imagining that we will also be happy, despite all the evidence that materialism doesn’t bring happiness. Then there’s the emotional lack that we can get into, wanting love, a relationship, to be valued and appreciated, that others care. Thus we can get into all that’s missing in our lives. Money usually comes up at some point, wanting more than you’ve currently got, there never being “enough”, always a sense of insufficiency.

Unfortunately the cycle of lack is such that satisfaction of need tends to set up another desire after a while and we go throughthe loop once again.

Desire is a trap for the seeker

No wonder masters tell us that desire is one of the most deadly and destructive forces to the spiritual seeker and to those interested in their self development. Wanting creeps up on us, subtly, unseen, despite maybe a successful bout of meditation, learning, insights and understandings. Most common is how people come back off their spiritual “high”, back down to earth, to the “realworld” as people put it, to their everyday needs, such as the need to earn money, only to be hit by that old devil called desire.

In the Bible, when a rich man asked Jesus what is needed for eternal life, he was enjoined to give all he has to the poor and follow him. But, we are told, the rich man was sad, because he had much wealth. The material will easily get in the way of our higher aspirations. It is so powerful. And this thought powers much of our current functioning, at all levels.

Being attached to desire, to unmet need and want, it is said, is the source of much of the world’s unhappiness.

You might check for yourself how much of your day is taken up with various aspects of want and need. Again, as with all self awareness, it is to catch yourself being caught up in it, being wrapped up in your ego. Then the real task is to let go of it, and to keep doing so each time it reoccurs.