Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
The next little prasaada-pushtaka (gift-book) we are studying is Sw. Tejoymayananda's "Take Charge of Your Life". Guru-ji is a wonderfully pragmatic personality and has a strongly down-to-earth approach to life and application of Vedanta. These are going to be short, sharp bursts
of applied 'shreyas-preyas' decision making!
REDUCE ARTIFICIAL NEEDS [NB; AV-blog has edited this section quite heavily as the subject is very pertinent for making saadhana].
We are creating more and more artificial 'needs'. No matter how much we earn, it is 'never enough'. No matter how many things we have, there is never the 'thing' for this or that.
The basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are easily met by most; yet even if there are three wardrobes full of clothing, something new must always be added; "**'s party means I need that new dress/handbag/pair of shoes…" An extra bedroom 'would be nice'. We need all those groceries because… yet things are so pricey and now there is not enough money…
Truly, think about it, have you ever sat down and down a full and proper budget based on the absolute necessities? Not the extra 'necessities', note, but the bare essentials. Simple but nourishing foods, curtailed power usage to what is only required to make food and keep warm/cool and maintain emergency contacts, ensured upkeep of the dwelling so that shelter is dry and comfy and that there is a change of clothing for seven days. This is all that is required! Anything else is artificial need, built up from years of relative peace, commercialism, materialism and the human desire to acquire.
We give too much importance to social status and prestige. Our cars define social status - our clothes - our homes. Brands matter in our current situation. The more we feed the desire for these artificial 'needs' the more we will find that we always feeling a lack of the wherewithal to fund them.
There are communities and whole countries in the world for whom the bare essentials are even hard to come by - yet very often when visited, it is found that they live contented lives and are accepting of their lot. They have deep cultural awareness and strong spiritual flow. The higher up the material ladder the community becomes, the weaker becomes that awareness and flow. The further we get from self-sustenance and barter systems, the more we move into esoteric economics, the more inflated becomes the baseline for the basic needs of life and the result is an 'underskirt' society in the so called developed nations. Those who fall below the 'bread line'… a figure which seen in global context is far above that of the most-well off in the less developed nations. Yes, everything is relative; but in matter of spirit there is a nominal requirement, no matter where or how we live. It is that we live simply, cleanly and with minimal effect upon those around us. To live beyond these points is to engage with the material and to begin building 'artificial' needs. If we are constantly in a state of comparison with those who have more (and there will always be those with more), we will never be satisfied, never be happy, be always in a state of 'need'.
To be truly in a state of need is to be without a safe home in which to rest each night and to eat our meals; to be truly in a state of need we need to live with the thought of no meal today and no prospect of one tomorrow. Those truly in need will not be reading this, they will be busily engaged in their respective activities in meeting their basic needs. Be assured, such folk live right there in your own community. No matter where you live in the world.
If we are fortunate enough to have a computer, as well as the luxury to be engaging in philosophical rumination, we must raise our voices in gratitude and withdraw any sense of 'lack' in our own lives. If we know of someone in our community who is truly in a state of need, we can seek to make a difference. We can be the neighbour who quietly prepares some soup and sandwiches and delivers to the door without ceremony, not worrying whether we get the pot back. We can be the passer-by who buys the cup of soup and packet of chips to hand to the beggar on the street. At the very least we can monitor our judgement of those who have true need and our assumptions about their lack. Most of all, we can monitor ourselves and be grateful, asserting never again to fall into 'lack mentality'.