Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Cause of Unhappiness


Spiritual people, through the ages, have identified many psychological factors that create, or that block, happiness. One of these psychospiritual elements is very surprising; it is one that most of us would never imagine, or even think of, on our own, that is a major cause of unhappiness.

This factor is personal desire. When you think of it, objectively and scientifically, advertisers have as a major goal to create dissatisfaction, very closely related to frustration, and to unhappiness. For an advertiser knows that she has little hope of getting you to purchase her services or products if you are completely happy, content,and satisfied.

To get you to buy, she must make you at least a little, at least momentarily, discontent-- or, unhappy. This unhappiness is the "grip" that an advertiser gets on your psyche, before telling you how to "solve" your "problem" by purchasing her services or products.

It all begins, then, by putting you in a state of dissatisfaction, or unhappiness. This unhappiness is created by the scientific manipulation, and stimulation, of your personal, even though artificial, desire. Professional psychologists have discovered what saintmystics have known for centuries: Personal desire creates frustration, a state of dissatisfaction or unhappiness.

This is relevant because most people are unhappy. Or, at the very least, they often feel vaguely that they are not quite as happy as they should be, at their best. With ages of observation and experimentation, the spiritually enlightened of every age and place have discovered that the minimization of personal desire, which the ancients often called "will," is a major key to real and lasting happiness.

Their recommendation: Replace personal desires with the desires of Love. And their name for the "desires of Love" was the "will of God."

But we often feel that, to minimize our personal desires will "impoverish" us. We fear that we might be somehow less if we let go of personal desires. But remember that we have all been heavily, and repeatedly, programmed by commercials and the world of money to believe that the "way to happiness" is to desire more, and to get more!

The problem is, this has never worked! For, historically, there is no relationship at all between happiness and material wealth. Some of the most magnificent homes are inhabited by the miserable, and some of the most pathetically unhappy are the very wealthy. Material riches, it has been proved by studies of lotto-winners, do not create any form of lasting happiness. For wanting is a lot more fun than getting!

But how can a person live in this world, practically, without personal desires? How would such a person even get enough food, a place to live, etc.? These things are wanted out of selflove, and so, are desires of Love, not merely personal desires. So, a spiritual person works independently to provide for herself the reasonable necessities of life.

When personal desire becomes a demon or dragon is when it is out of control: You need shoes to protect the feet; but you do not need twenty or thirty pairs. You need clothing to cover yourself; but you do not need fifty changes of clothing; you need even things of beauty to please the Soul; but you do not need five-thousand-dollar rings or works of art. It is excess that drives us into unhappiness, by creating subconscious guilt and anxiety.

It is when need becomes greed that we are in trouble. And it is at this point that reasonable personal desire becomes a dragon or demon of unhappiness: For you can never get enough. The great Chinese writer Lao Tzu writes, "She who knows that enough is enough always has enough."

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