Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Psychology of Need and Rising Above It

As a human being we all have needs. These needs have their source in our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves.
      Universal human needs are :
     Physical needs for security and survival like food, shelter,  and medical care, protection from life-threatening events, rest, exercise
     Emotional needs for/to care, appreciation, support, acceptance, emotional safety, contribution to enriching life consideration, respect, love, trust, fun, laughter, honesty, integrity,
     Intellectual needs to understand, know, choosing values, dreams and  goals, choosing plans for fulfilling
     Spiritual needs to understand the truth of life and oneself, harmony, peace, order, creativity, self-worth

When our needs are fulfilled we feel  some of the following  - happy, joyful, elated, comfortable, confident, eager, enthusiastic, energetic, fulfilled, glad, hopeful, inspired, proud, optimistic, relieved, stimulated, thankful, trustful, touched…  etc.

When our needs are not fulfilled we could feel some of the following - angry, annoyed, irritated, depressed, discouraged, sad, confused, disappointed, embarrassed, frustrated, hopeless, helpless, impatient, irritated, nervous, lonely, puzzled, uncomfortable, overwhelmed .... etc.
In fact our feelings are often a window to gauge whether our needs are being met or not.
Our emotional needs stem from a basic universal conclusion about the self – which is that ‘I am limited’ or  ‘I am wanting/insecure’. Where the childhood has been difficult this in turn could manifest in any number of conscious or more often than naught unconscious conclusions such as ‘I am helpless’, ‘I am inadequate’, ‘I am not lovable’, ‘I am useless’ etc.

Once these conclusions have taken place, it is but natural that there will be a NEED, a DESIRE, almost a craving for whatever it is that I think I lack. And once this kind of desire is there, it leads to actions to get what I think I will remove the sense of lack which is centered around myself. Also we find that these conclusions are behind our interpretations of events and situations – we would tend to interpret situations in terms of our original conclusions, so as to strengthen further strengthen them! Negative conclusions would get strengthened mostly because of our interpretations.

So now, here is this human being who is a bundle of needs, whose whole life is centred around fulfilling those needs, because he/she thinks that he / she is dependent upon their fulfilment for his/her sense of happiness and security.

Life being what it is, a number of factors over which we have limited or no control can come into play and we find that many a time we are not able to fulfil our needs. That leaves us dissatisfied and with an emptiness inside, begging to be filled as though. So it is to be noted that the sense of dissatisfaction is centred on ‘I’. This is the original sense of dissatisfaction and discontentment which has its source in the conclusion that ‘I’ am wanting.

Again even if we have been successful in fulfilling any number of desires, still we end up finding that the basic conclusion that ‘I am wanting’ which is behind all the desires, stays intact – it does not go. In fact, no amount of learning new ways to fulfil ones needs will remove the basic conclusion that I am wanting’.

So satisfaction of needs/desires does not remove the conclusion centred on ‘I’ that I am wanting. Nor does non-fulfilment of the desires remove that conclusion. This makes one into an eternal seeker ... eternally seeking to be fulfilled through this activity or that.... trying to become something other than what one is. This is a life of becoming and it is what is called as samsara.

The first step in rising above the psychology of need, is to recognize the impossibility of the process of fulfilment of our needs/desires to be the solution to remove the basic universal conclusion of the ‘I’ being a lacking ‘I’.

Having understood that no action will remove the basic sense of lack centred on ‘I’, the question remains what will? Is it that the ‘I’ the self is basically lacking?

No. Vedanta, which is a body of knowledge, placed at the end of the Vedas, reveals that the ‘I’ is purnam – whole – totally free of lack of any kind.

Why should I believe the Veda? Because otherwise I would be compelled to live with the basic conclusion that ‘I’ is lacking and will always remain so.  It is this conclusion that is at the root of all sorrow in life. And then there would be no freedom from sorrow. So even if I do not know whether to believe in Veda, I must give it a try, and see what this ancient and great body of knowledge has to say.

Vedanta reveals the nature of the self to whole, and it does so in the form of a methodology of teaching that is very precise. Like any other body of knowledge, it too requires certain eligibility. It requires what is called as antahkarna shuddhi -  purity of the inner instrument, the mind. This antahkarna shuddhi  or maturity is to be gained living one’s life meaningfully, with attitudes based on an understanding of the realities of life – which are the absolute reality which is the unchanging consciousness that is one’s self, and the empirical reality, which is world of change that we confront, which is never  away from the unchanging truth of oneself.

We plan to have a 5-day retreat on ‘Exploring Realities and Self-Growth’ May –June 2014 at Rishikesh. The retreat will have 2 satsangs based on the Bhagvad-Gita taken by Swami Brahmavidyananda Saraswati  in the morning,  workshop sessions on ‘Growing As An Individual’ ,  a  meditation session,  and  a yoga session daily. If you are interested you may contact me at
Om Tat Sat

Saturday, January 18, 2014