Need and want can be very destructive ego strategies

One of the most powerful ego manifestations must be that of need and want, especially when fuelled by a sense of lack. After all it is a thought that fuels much of our economics and politics at the macro level but also at the micro level for some the need to meet every-day needs in order to survive and for others the seemingly insatiable hunger for more of the material trappings of life. It is so pervasive that we don’t think of questioning it, but instead assume it to be part of who we are. Hence it is an ego manifestation, what we think of as part of us.

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 slurge 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.

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 “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 asks Jesus what is needed for eternal life, he is 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.

You might check for yourself how much of your day is taken up with various aspects of wanting. 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.

You can learn more about how the ego shows up in your life, and to move beyond it, on our course. For more details, click here.