Long ago, I was taught that it was wrong to assert what I want – to accept what was given instead. It’s embodied in a Christian concept of humility, for one thing, and reinforced by poverty, for another. Living in the yoga ashram underscored that as a spiritual lesson, differentiating between wants (or desires) and needs.
My first lover introduced me to the Asian concept of Tao, as taking a path of least resistance. In the long run, that didn’t help much. At least I still had ambitions and kept working toward them, albeit more as a team member or leader than as a social climber.
More recently, as part of some deep psychological work, I’ve instead learned the importance of being able to voice and engage those personal yearnings and preferences – to make them active in a way that’s not selfish, self-centered, but rather an embodiment of my very essence. You know, to give this life a direction rather than a passive reaction.
These days I find myself correcting a phrase from “I’d like” to “I WANT” … as in deciding to do or have such-and-such. It makes a huge difference.
In the jargon, I’m feeling empowered. In doing so, fewer things feel like duties or obligations, which in turn become weights and encumbering .
For instance, I’ll say “I want to mow the lawn today” rather than “I have to.” In this scenario, it becomes, “I want to get it now rather than later, when it’s harder to cut” or “I want the place to look better.” And I can even look closely at the wonder of how it all grows so quickly.
Well, Swami had tried to instill that kind of awareness in the mundane chores and labors we had to do in the ashram.
It comes round to faith, after all.
Prayer can be a time to choose and voice
WHAT I WANT!
As Jesus said, “You do not have because you do not ask.”
It doesn’t mean I can have everything, either. And that’s OK, too. In fact, I don’t want the burdens that so many things carry. And that, too, is liberating.
How about you?