A good gauge of spiritual health is to write down
The three things you most want.
If they in any way differ,
You are in trouble.
Sometimes, you don’t get what you want. Sometimes, you get what you don’t want. Sometimes, you get what you want and then lose it or stop wanting it. That pretty much sums up the possibilities in samsara, the endless cycle of conditioned existence. Our relationship to getting what we want (or not) is a pretty good gauge of our mental health.
When your hopes and dreams are thwarted, or when life piles your plate high with dog doo, this is actually the best possible moment to begin—or reconnect with—a meditation practice. Moments like these are ripe for developing a healthy relationship with your mind. In the moment of failure or heartbreak, you suddenly release your grasp. Ambition transforms into a state of pure openness. Fixed ideas are replaced by new potentials.
This is not a comfortable place to dwell for most of us. Desire thrives in the cult of materialism, so we are constantly encouraged to wonder: What Do I Want?
The logic is simple:
Desire + Fulfillment = Happiness.
So you are taught to identify your desire and go for it, then you’ll be happy.
But that’s not my experience, or Rumi’s, apparently. Here’s the problem: this “you” that desires something is so much smaller than the real you. The desiring “you” thinks it lacks something, hence, it desires to fill a perceived gap. But there is no gap. You already have what you need.
Your mission here is to become yourself, in all your strange and beautiful glory. The only way this will happen is if you clear away the extraneous matter that hides your shine. If you depend on external circumstances to make you happy, you’ll constantly be disappointed. The only thing left then is to find it inside, whatever “it” is.
What is “it”?
Truth, Love, Awakening, Enlightenment. Let’s call it love. You’ve got to find the love inside.
Previous experience has shown me that whenever I don’t know what to do, the best thing is to dive into practice. It’s the direct connection to source that inexhaustible supply of love-juice. Resting in the present without a clue about what comes next can be terrifying, but so much more honest–and exhilarating– than listening to the story you tell yourself about what is going to happen next. Because let’s face it: you don’t really know what is going to happen next.
Inhaling and exhaling. Inspiration and exhilaration. What more do you need?
So, is not getting what you want really a problem? Or could you look at it from another point of view? Frustrated desire forces you to stop and take a look at yourself and the circumstance you have created. It points to self-sabotaging patterns you may habitually re-create. It is an invitation to see that your beautiful loveable self is not obscured by any of these games. This is where lasting happiness can be found.
Sometimes I think the spiritual path is an accident, something labelled after the fact, after a particular journey has veered away from the expected course. This detour actually becomes the real purpose when you recognize that the illusory road to material success is riddled with potholes.
The point is that this path is not about creating a version of reality that you can live with. It’s about living with the version of reality that you have created.
Perhaps from that perspective, by not getting what you want, you already have exactly what you need.