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What do you really want? Ultimately?
by Jim McDermott
September 19, 2023

When Gangaji speaks those words to most of us, she is taking us on a journey through the mind. Despite the fact that many of us willingly display our wants and desires all over social media, those of us who hear her speak know she is not really referring to such day-to-day trivialities, no matter how wonderful they are. She is asking us to get REAL.

At the heart of our being, it's not materialistic yearnings like a dream car, opulent mansion, or vast riches that truly resonate. Nor is it even the passion of the most significant relationships we've cherished. It's what we believe these things symbolize or the feelings we assume they'll grant us.

Certainly, there is a need to have food, water, shelter, companionship, and so on. These biological needs come baked into our DNA and our social consciousness. And there are many situations where it can be appropriate to fixate on any specific desire with the hopes of attaining it. For instance, someone overwhelmed with the stresses of juggling work, family, and personal life may not have the luxury of time to reflect deeply on the core desires in the heat of a demanding day. Without question, taking immediate steps to manage and alleviate pressing concerns should be the priority.

Yet, most of the time, despite the typical urgencies of daily life, we aren't faced with constant overwhelming situations. We do have moments to pause. And in that brief respite, we CAN find the rest we are seeking.  In an instant.

This innate desire for peace and fulfillment might trace back to our very beginnings when life was but a simple dance of stimulus and response, with existence hanging in the balance. This longing is evident in the joyful laughter and comfort we experience in infancy, a phase filled with unbridled love and care. Robert Palmer's lyrics echo this sentiment: “Might as well face it: you’re addicted to love.” It's an addiction to a feeling of being cherished, wanted, and appreciated.

But what happens when that steady stream of affection begins to wane or becomes transactional? Many spiritual traditions direct their followers to renounce worldly affections, promising a higher form of love attainable only in the afterlife. Meanwhile, some succumb to the allure of power, wealth, and fleeting pleasures, a path seldom leading to enduring contentment.

If we strip away our conditioned beliefs and societal expectations, we're left with the wisdom passed down through generations, adjusted and fine-tuned by our unique experiences and neurology. It's a complex web of aspirations and fears, each of us finding inventive ways to justify our desires and, occasionally, criticize others and ourselves.

However, once we meet what is in the core of our being, when we stop and truly see what is here in any given moment – when we are present and open to whatever is here: this is to find the rest we have been seeking all of our lives.  We can reside in the awareness that is ever-present and that is the source of all.

Once we have done that we are free to choose. We can pursue whichever direction we want: charity or selfishness. Hope or fear. Love or indifference. There are no requisites to live your life a certain way because any definition of such is bound to be imperfect. There are always, always exceptions to every rule or every guidebook.

But to initially find this to be true, we have to be willing – just for a moment – to do what those in recovery from alcoholism, drugs, food and so on must do: we have to face the possibility that the states, mindsets and experiences we have found to be so perfect might be the very worst things for us. We have to be open to the guidance that comes from the center of our souls. The inexpressible consciousness that is deeper and greater than the mind and its thoughts.

It is and remains the challenge of a lifetime.

It takes bravery and courage to even consider this path. But I can assure you that even stepping your foot onto this trail is deeply moving. It doesn’t make you more special or powerful or attractive. It won’t mean that you are universally loved by everyone at all times and never have a sad thought.

It will only offer you a conscious way of living – with the deepest awareness always present, loving you and what you think you are unceasingly. The only question is whether or not you are willing.

“This is your resting place, your watering hole. Find what supports you, what includes you, and drink it in. Be nourished. Be enlivened. And when you feel thirsty again, drink some more.” —Gangaji

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