free as wind
A Newsletter from the Center for Sacred Psychology * Vol. II, September 1996
Children's Corner    |    Warrior's Hoop    |    Elder's Circle

    In the art of psychotherapy, one of the goals is to help the one who comes to ask the right questions.  Throughout my years of practice, I have noticed these questions will change to some extent, undoubtedly a reflection of my own inner search.  One question remains constant, and usually it is cause for the greatest pause and reflection.  When asked what it is that we want, many are not clear and are surprised by this.  Those who have worked with me will laugh at this, but my favorite question in the first session is, "If I could sprinkle pixie dust over and 'fix' you, how would it be different?"  That usually elicits some clarity about what needs to change.   We know what we don't want in our lives.  What do we want?
Eventually there comes over him a suspicion that he is caught on a nonstop treadmill, having to race faster and faster for rewards that mean less and less.
                             - Huston Smith

    In my own search for answers, I have learned to honor the wisdom literature of many cultures throughout history.  One that continues to enrich me is that of the Sanatana Dharma, often referred to as Hinduism.   Nearly fifty years ago, the historian Arnold Toynbee, predicted that in the next century the world would turn to the United States as the political power, but to India for its spiritual direction.  This can be a threatening statement to those whose religion is exclusive.  For you, I suggest the thought of Joe Campbell that your study of another religion can only enrich your understanding of your own faith and practice.  He points to the psychological blindness we all have of our conditioned beliefs.  When we are confronted with the unfamiliar, we are likely to assume less and struggle for greater understanding.
When we take that struggle back to our own faith, even that of atheism, we might see a different facet of this diamond we call truth.    In Huston Smith's early work, The Religion's of Man, he offered that Hinduism could be epitomized in a "single, central, affirmation...You can have what you want."  He went on to summarize India's answer to this fundamental question, saying the wants of man are four.   The first is the want of pleasure.  The second goal of life is worldly success with its three aspects of wealth, fame and power.  Pleasure and success are described as the twin goals of the Path of Desire.  For many, this is the sum total of a life's effort.  There is no moral judgment in India's observation of this.  In contrast, there is an affirmation of the importance of trying to fulfill these wants.  Maslow's hierarchy of needs began with the need for security.  Neem Karoli Baba said, "God comes to the hungry as food."  It is essential for psychospiritual development for those wants to be satisfied.  The form such satisfaction takes will be different for each of us.  Certainly, how we define pleasure and worldly success will vary.  Yet, I remind you of a quote from Campbell that I've used before, "…middle age is to climb the ladder of success and find it up against the wrong wall."  That certainly fit my own experience when, just a few years ago, I sat behind my desk in this lovely office in Palm Beach, with a thriving practice, a family that loved me and gave me the freedom to risk, and a future that looked rosy.  I wondered how this country boy from Pennsylvania, in and out of trouble as a youth, could end up here.  Yet, all I heard myself ask was, "is this all there is?"  The search for pleasure and worldly success inevitably leads to this wall.

   If you find yourself on that treadmill, racing faster and faster for rewards that mean less and less, you have reached the end of the Path of Desire. In contrast with the Path of Desire is the Path of Renunciation.  Dr. Smith points out that "we must never forget that the Path of Renunciation comes after the Path of Desire. He goes on to say, "What if the focus of his concern were shifted?  Might not becoming part of a larger, more significant whole relieve his life of its oppressive triviality?  This question, once it arises, brings the beginning of true religion."     The renunciation of the ego, for that is what we are talking about, is not novel language, although I am hearing it spoken of more frequently in the psychospiritual community.  Do not make the error of thinking of the ego as bad.   Jungian psychology
You can't have a genuine community unless it consists of true individuals, and you can't be an individual unless you are deeply involved in community.
                 - Thomas Moore

attempts to bring the ego into harmony with True Self.  In the Christian wisdom literature, there are the words "I must decrease, that He may increase."  Gaia consciousness provides a useful frame of reference of seeing ourselves as part of the Whole.  The Path of Renunciation leads us to true community and service. Dr. Smith says that, for India, even this is not the end.  Pleasure, success, and duty are never man's ultimate goals.  What we really want are things that lie on a deeper level."  My work is to help you find what you want.  My search is to do the same.

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