Why Do We Want So Much?

We (mostly the “we” of western societies) believe can have just about anything we want. The rest of the developing world, following in our footsteps, also yearns to have whatever they want. Of course, we can’t continue our unbridled exploitation of the world’s resources to that end–but even if we could continue to have anything and everything without consequence, why do we think we want so much?

Basic needs include the need for shelter, wholesome food and drink, meaning in life and work– beyond that, it’s all about choices. We can choose what we will own. In our hearts, we want deep and lasting happiness for ourselves and others, yet we seem to desire all the wrong things in pursuit of happiness because we misunderstand what makes us happy. Hint: it’s not things. 🙂

Affluent western societies have divorced true happiness from meaning and mattering. Meaning is found in the simple spiritual practices of prayer and meditation. Adding rules, dogma, saints, prophets, hierarchical leadership structures, etc. pulls us away from the simple practice of  communion with mind/self/spirit. Almost every religion began in simplicity– from  Jesus: Turn the other cheek, do good to those who hate you. (What if every Christian had, from the beginning, followed only that 1 lesson!) And the Buddha, I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering.

Happiness resides in simplicity. Revolutionary teachings!

Humans seem compelled to create complexity, and then get lost in it, forgetting that they carry everything needed within. To find what’s needed, slow down, be still, and observe and befriend the mind. Essentially it is simple, but it requires effort and commitment. Complexity probably comes from the fact that simple practices can be difficult to maintain, though the reward (true peace!) is great– but diversions are so much more appealing. So we wander , leap, and run down one road, then another and another–just as we go from link to link on the web–until exhausted and unhappy, we look for the original path but we’re lost, and we’ve forgotten what prompted us to look in the first place.

The solution could be to choose a path; practice and connect with people, communities and teachers who can gently guide and remind us of our heart’s desire for true happiness, because happiness and peace truly are the only things we want so much.

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