Recently a few of us had a nice conversation based on a chapter from Tuesdays with Morrie. The chapter we read and discussed centered on the role, power and enticement of money in our present day cultures. As we wandered through the ideas of this chapter, a central question emerged: how do we live in such a way that we are not consumed by our wants and desires? I was inspired by the thoughts that arose.
The simple effort to distinguish between wants and needs is a life revolutionizing activity. There are bigger things to live for than my own wants and my own desires. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily advocating a monastic lifestyle.) Training my soul to perceive the needs, value and interests of others can help break the hold my own wants have on me. The clearer I see others and the world, the smaller my problems become. We must train our souls to attend to others.
One of these unviersity students communicated a sense of frustration, “we work so hard just to ready ourselves to participate in this consuming society….to be consumers.” Is this what it is all about? Are we simple consuming creatures? Or are we designed for more?
But what we are looking for is a deep fundamental shift in our being, an essential change in our orientation from self to others. We are talking about breaking out of the “self” prison. Can this redirection of the heart be developed through discipline? Perhaps to an extent. Paraphrasing what another friend said, “we can’t make these kinds of profound changes without some kind of an awakening of the heart, mind and soul.”