Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician with experience working with adults, couples, families, adolescents and older children since 1976. His aim
“I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive!”
“As long as you want power, you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power,
you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible.”
At a couples seminar by spiritual teachers and married partners Adyashanti and Mukti, Adya shared a powerful interaction early on in their relationship. Apparently they were attending a spiritual growth seminar together and after some interaction and a clear indication of mutual attraction was evident, Mukti approached Adya. Reportedly she mentioned how she found him attractive and liked being around him. She then told him, “I don’t need you.” Adya found this comment remarkable, being even more drawn to her. How come? Adya figured if Mukti didn’t need him, then he was at little risk of her sinking any hooks into him, and both were free to want and be with each other. Being needless of him, he also could be needless of her, and both he and her could honestly want to be with each other.
Needs or attachments, whether in the form of should, must, got to, or have to, push away the very experience you are drawn to, want, desire and envision. The ego’s relentless grasping, clinging and needing to get somewhere, or to have some experience, feeling or material thing, pushes it far, far away. Not so much fun. Seeking demands grasping, often sabotaging life working and producing only drama, misery and suffering. Do you really want to work that hard? And for what exactly? You must be joking.
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There would be no point to desire what you already have; you would only bask and dwell in thankfulness, gratitude and appreciation for everything you are so blessed to already be enjoying. At the same time, wanting what you already have is a recipe for happiness and contentment. Actually this sounds rather inviting. It will cost you one imaginary, continually dissatisfied ego-mind. Yours, in fact.
More typically, you desire what you think you do not already have, what you’re lacking or have misplaced or lost, that is, disowned parts or aspects of yourself, which you can always take back and make peace with inside of you. For example, if you don’t think you know how to say “No” and set limits or have the support, good models and strength to set limits, then you might very well think you need to develop this ability and skill set. Precisely here is the gap between your current state of affairs and what your ego-mind says you want, would like and need to have, and so typically follows an edge of frustration, unhappiness and dissatisfaction. What else?
The way out of the desire or attachment trap is for you first to attune within to being who you truly are and engage in specific actions in accord with your True Self, and then for this being and congruent doing to be identical with what you are called or beckoned to be and inclined to do. Taking the same example of setting limits, once you have learned to say “No” and how to set limits, there is no gap, and thus no neediness. Strangely enough, the very act of setting limits itself is needless. Perhaps this helps us understand how competent, timely actions tend to close the mouth of the ego—there simply is no gap between what you envision and what you so create here-and-now. What is created was already within you ready to tap whenever you turned here with some modeling, support and shaping of this behavior and accompanying attitude. So doing the actions that your mind says you lack or need, in one fell swoop you end that pressured, prescriptive and even desperately needy conversation from hell and return to being needless as you naturally are. This is way too simple, and quite effective. Go figure?!
There is nothing needy about being human and having desires, only in being attached to them. While food, water, shelter and clothing usually are considered needs, and all these seem to ring as true, does that mean you need to be needy in approaching them? If it is attachment that creates the suffering, then do you need either? How much longer do you need to be attached and suffer? Does the needy attachment and suffering serve a useful purpose, other than to see what doesn’t work? Had enough yet?
In seeing through the ego-mind, only the authentic liberated Self, who desires and needs nothing since it already is and has everything, remains. Without seeking anything, there is no need to grasp. Without holding agendas, there is no disappointment. Without having any goals, there is no frustration. Without seeking, agendas and goals, now we can envision our lives functioning beautifully in equanimity, a harmonious serenity with minimal if any emotional reactivity. Isn’t the vision of life working in this moment coupled with doing your level best moment by moment enough? Obviously there may be times worth developing a little bit of a plan for how life unfolds, whether it is with doing a project, having a vacation or designing retirement for example. Doing each lightly and briefly in the present is enough. If anything further only creates the push of neediness and all that results, is it worth it?
Do we ever fall in love with our life mate while actively pursuing the goal of finding a life mate? This usually translates into following your ego-mind with its seeking and desiring, its agendas and goals. Rarely does it pan out in reality, if ever. In fact, usually the harder you push, manipulate and scheme, the more the goals appear unattainable in the empirical world. Come to a banker with desperation and neediness for a loan and just see what a welcoming reception you receive. Not! Yet ask a banker to loan you any amount of money, and lo it almost certainly does happen, so long as you don’t need it. With plenty of collateral, bankers will make loans all day, since it is only “found money” at virtually no risk. What about the two laws that Hollywood and stardom operate by: 1) don’t be desperate; and 2) don’t be needy. Both of these laws of the entertainment business point to remaining non-grasping and needless.
Recognize for yourself times of being needy, clingy, grasping and desperate. What were the results of acting from this cognitive-emotional-behavioral lack and scarcity? In seeing and shedding needing anything, you’re blessed and free to pause, watch, and hear, opening up the space to reflect, see and listen. It is in this context of receptive Being that you can envision, declare and create, and so manifest, actualize and receive every moment, all without the slightest bit of grasping neediness.
When we experience Original Nature in the flow of living an earthly dream, the universe, if you will, seems happy to contribute to us in every possible way. Ironic, isn’t it? You can become a magnet for prosperity, relationships, intimacy, and joy, so long as you don’t need, grasp or cling to them. In fact, you can have just about anything possible in life, as long as you don’t need it. Sage Ramakrishna noted, “When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.” Spiritual teacher Bhagwan Shree Rajsneeh, also known as Osho, knew this in the title of a book: The Grass Grows By Itself. Similarly, the sun rises all by itself every day, even as we can learn to be needless, accept Love and stop pushing away our Good.
To seek and need anything in order to find or gain something, whether you are successful or not, is endlessly to be disappointed, dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Within an agenda, all made up by the ego-mind, there will always be something else, further and more to seek or find. Alexander Pope once observed, “Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Only when you fully realize that what cannot be sought or found is already within you, does the cycle mercifully end.
When you seek for what is unfindable, you may one day discover what you have been seeking for has always been right here and now—who you truly are. What cannot be found cannot be lost—it always was! What is real cannot be lost and what is unreal never existed in the first place. Many famous spiritual stories depict this discovering and recognizing that what you seek is already yours, like looking for glasses that are on the top of your head, searching for a necklace that is around your neck, and seeking a diamond that is in your pocket. The Zen tradition gives the illustrations of looking for spectacles that are on your nose as well as looking for an ox when you are riding on the back of one.
Since no one knows anything about the so-called future, realize and see for yourself that fear is purely the delusion of some negative outcome occurring in the fictive future, while hope is only a similar delusion of some positive result happening in the imaginary future. Both phantoms and polarities of fear and hope seem to inevitably lead to disappointment, given the results of daily living often are not anticipated or expected. Without the imposters of fear or hope, Life lives in flowing appreciative grace.
In the spaceless, timeless flow of non-attachment or being needless, you can honestly declare, speaking as “I” of Original Nature: “I want nothing, I need nothing, I desire nothing, I seek for nothing and I am nothing. I surrender security, I surrender money, I surrender sex, I surrender power, I surrender pleasure, I surrender glory, and I surrender pride. I surrender sacrifice; I surrender suffering. I even surrender surrendering. I surrender everything in life—affirmative, joy-filled service to one and all, in love to everyone and everything.” Is this asking too much in freely receiving the full bounty life offers?
In my experience, eventually, everything good is offered us and nothing good is denied us by our Beloved. As Martin Luther King, Jr. declared: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” There may well be logistics and factors we know nothing about, and sometimes what happens seems to be beyond anyone’s control, when life appears to take it sweet time and it just doesn’t quite work yet. At the same time, with perseverance, patience, intelligent judgment and moving our feet in consistently taking savvy essential actions, it is simply dazzling just how much of life can work on a win-win basis or for the good of everyone, including for us.
Say it as often as you will: You can have just about anything you want so long as you don’t need it. Let’s get real about this, shall we? No it’s highly unlikely you will fly by flapping your arms or someone will knock on your door and offer you your dream job. More realistically, even when you give your 100 percent and do it with smartly, this does not guarantee success. Also there are windows of opportunity in life and throughout the life span. Great mathematicians crest early in life, athletes’ careers are often quite time-limited and those espousing wisdom are usually older. There is some slippage if your vision is not possible in reality, since one cannot help factoring in water being wet and rocks being hard.
Pigs simply don’t dance, sing or fly, and that’s just the way it is with pigs. Reality is just that—reality.
Even given all these above practical and statistical realities, being needless is a great leg up for every one. Instead of starting with having, then doing to get to being, how about beginning with Being, then doing, and having naturally follows. Here are some clear examples. Instead of following the ego-mind’s backwards agenda that you must first have something (e.g., time, money, energy, education) in order to do something (e.g., get a job, launch a new enterprise, create a beautiful relationship) so you can be what you want (e.g., rich, successful, in a great relationship), the opportunity being needless affords is to first be who you truly are (e.g., True Self, whole and complete free of all clinging neediness), then express this in doing (e.g., follow your heart, love and Muse), that naturally yields results in having (e.g., enjoy/love life, relationships, career and rewards).
So the real question is this: are you willing in attitude, words and actions to completely, authentically surrender all your envisioned needy attachments to be needless? What freedom! It’s yours for the creating in this precious moment, the only time that actually exists, as life continually unfolds.
While we’re alive every one of us is freely given nearly endless opportunities to be needless. If the truth is you are already on solid ground within who you truly are, and this cannot be lost since it is your true identity, then what do you have to lose? Or is it you have everything to gain by exploring and actualizing your full creative expression in being needless? Is this a beautiful enough vision worth your bringing to life? The answers are obvious: your life as lived moment by moment by moment by moment.
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