No End to Wanting


No End To Wanting

If you could have everything you presently want, how long would it take you to get it?  How long would it take you to count it, to experience it, to appreciate it.  Would there be enough time?  Would you still be satisfied and could it all become boring or would you want something more? Where would you keep it and who would guard it for you?  How much of it would you take with you when you traveled and what if you ran out? How did you decide what you wanted and why do you need it?  These are just some of the questions around the acquisition of material goods or getting the stuff you want.

There is a constant flow of stuff before us and we pick and choose based on availability and likes and dislikes.  We eat it, we wear it, we admire it and we share it.  It defines us and we become it.  In Matthew 46 it is likened to a marketplace that we are sifting through.  We love to shop until we find the bargain, the best buy.  But then the excitement fades and the purchase gathers with dust on the shelf.  We go back to the marketplace to capture that thrill again.  It becomes harder and harder as availability diminishes and we run out of options or cash; Back to the Money Changers table for a loan.  Or God? “Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz , my friends all have two, I must make Amens  (Amends?)( Joplin, 1969).”

If somebody takes your stuff how do you feel?  People who have been burglarized often report it feels like being raped.  They’ve taken a part of you.  Like the loss of a limb, it leads to anger and mourning.  Are you a collection of stuff or are you more?  If so what?  How about your collection of thoughts and ideas?  Your beliefs, norms, mores, Mimes, opinions, rules, regulations, expectations, decisions, plans, methods and so on and etc and etc.  There is a constant stream of these as well and you pick and choose and consume them.  You work them and worry them.  Some people refine them and hone them.  They sometimes make weapons out of them and direct them at others.  But who by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?  Do you have a good collection of thoughts and opinions?  Where do you keep them.  How do you feel if someone steals one?  Do you sometimes run out of them or go looking to purchase more of them.  Are you your thoughts?

If someone hurts your feelings, does that hurt you?  Are you your feelings?  Do you always feel good or always feel bad? Does somebody wreck your good feelings by intruding with their bad feelings.  There is a constant stream of feelings before us unless we are clinically depressed.  Do you select or purchase things that make you feel good because you are defined by your feelings?  Modern neuroscience says we are more emotional creatures than rational creatures.  They find that feelings lead to thoughts and actions.  The word emotion comes from the Latin word  “movere” meaning “to move.”  We cannot make decisions without networks that provide a form of weighting or “emotional valencing.”  Daniel Goleman found in his research that emotional intelligence is the key to success in any social context and especially in business (back to the money changers).  Emotions lead to more acts, to more doing, to more purchases.

We have buying habits. Madison Avenue (the marketing and ad business) has been studying them for decades.  They find that we share these habits with others, our “identity group.” Is that who we are?  Don’t these buying habits also apply to thinking and feeling?  We “buy into” beliefs and groups, to movements and clubs.  Are you “in” with the “in crowd.” Do you go where the in crowd goes?  Or are you just having enough trouble keeping up with the Jones.  When we get thrown out of the club or excluded from groups some of us commit suicide- identity gone, game over.   Identity must be important.

Is there enough and will you get it on time?  Are you a have or a have not and are you willing to kill to get yours?  Are you making a killing in business or war?  It may be important to “act now” while supplies last.  The end is near and the Apocalypse is always possibly perhaps maybe coming.  But wait, there’s more.  Money talks and nobody walks.  Select, purchase or buy the right item and you could be saved while your neighbors burn in the purgatory of not having made the correct purchase.  Time for exchange counter hell- back to the money changer’s table.  Perhaps it’s better to invest, call your broker or hell (again?) go back jack and do it again at the big money changer table in Vegas.  Well, maybe a small Lotto ticket.  It can be overwhelming and lead to investments in a snowy summer day or bar stool in some remote forgotten corner of the universe where things are safe.  If you invest in land the taxes may go up or the oceans may rise, or the governments may reclaim it and you have problems rendering unto Caesar because it’s your stuff, it’s you.  Or is it?

Ramana Maharshi, a great Indian saint (we are ecumenical at this site), said the most important question to ask, if you really want to know what is going on, is “Who am I.”  The answer is not 42. He recommended that you not expect a quick answer or a magic bullet solution if you really want to get to the bottom of things.  Why bother? Well, you could save some money.  Here’s how.

If everything we think, feel or do is a purchase of some kind, a consuming event, then as consumers we are always defining who we are through consumption.  We eat or consume constantly, digest the purchase and eliminate it- the shelf, the yard sale and finally the trash collector or the history books.  If that is who we are, then we are always becoming and always hungry for more.  This deep hunger and sense of incompleteness gnaws at us relentlessly.  Why?  What would the final satisfying meal, the big banquet be?  Would it be like a marriage banquet? Who is getting married?  Are you what you eat and what would you eat at this banquet?

To be, to become is the identity process.  Even William James figured that one out; before we had neuroimaging technology.  The sociologists confirm it.  It is a process and not a thing.  A consumption of the perceptual stream and the quantum flow of information.  Endlessly collapsing the wave function with your attentional shopping.  Are you a process?  Buddha observed self as a process.  Who observed?  He was probably a poor consumer.   Not helping the economy grow.  A troublemaker.  Probably hung out with a bad sort; like that Jesus character.  The guy with the dad with many mansions and the kingdom inside.  Buddha came from the same crowd only his dad was a prince in the” real” world, clearly second rate and without inside connections.  This kingdom was, according to reliable sources, where the cool people hung out so it is important not to derogate or diss them.  Perhaps the best service is lip service.  And Jesus commented, you will note, that it would be harder to get through the eye of a needle than to get to the Kingdom of Heaven if you were wealthy and had a lot of stuff.  It does seem like it would be a lot of work.  It would probably wreck your stuff too.  He advised seeking the Kingdom first and they would bring all the stuff later ie travel light.  A word to the wise, seek first the kingdom.  Seems to be an inside job.

Are you watching this process, this self, or are you completely absorbed in the process.  Are you product or producer.  Whose business is this anyway and is anybody burying their talents instead of putting them to good use helping the organization out?  Whose in charge here?  Where is the pearl of great worth in the marketplace?  Perhaps we need some better market research. You might have to give up the process to find out; step back from the problem, take a break, let the dust settle  and get some perspective.  Can you stop the river, the stream of thinking, feeling and doing?  Can you step outside of it, outside of the box?  Can you get past the hunger, the urge to consume, to become?  Forty days in the desert might help, but not Vegas (too much dust like Phoenix and transformation).  Someplace quiet.  It certainly would bring clarity.  Is this the self-sacrifice or the cross we must bear?  Let us think more about that and consider the consumable options.  One would have to really believe that it was worth it to invest in such a strategy.  Definitely an act of faith to do it.  It certainly would entail a lot of non-effort and suffering . . .  and consuming is much easier and more fun.  A more exciting way to define myself.  And the fun never ends (except for the death thing).  Should I say more?  Did you want more?

Neuroimaging science has discovered the default mode network that is endlessly buzzing in our brain at all times, except when we sleep.  It is an ongoing process of thinking, planning and feeling that uses up large amounts of glucose and oxygen in its daily round of busy assessments.  It is the biological mirror of the self-process.  It is almost impossible to stop, but when we image people in deep spiritual states we find this network taking long pauses while waves of coherent alpha frequencies wash over the cortex.  In these brief moments of neural quiescence something ancient and profound shines through in a stream of consciousness that is non-local and grounded in the implicate order.  It has an innate intelligence that transcends the verbal and appears to operate on a higher order.  It is that silence that our ancestors, even as far back as primal shamanistic method, cultivated throughout ancient Egypt, India and Israel as well as by the Desert Fathers, the Taoists, Zen Buddhists and the Sufis.  It is in that receptive silence that a spirit of grace fills us with profound peace and joy that provides us with a transcendent experience beyond words.  But don’t take anybody’s word for it or you will be eating crumbs from the table.  You can do it yourself.  You can see for yourself.  You can measure it if you with scientific equipment, like they do at Keck Labs at the University of Wisconsin.  Technology is opening a new door.  Knock and it will open.




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