Whether we are hooked on food, alcohol, drugs, sex, money, work, or fame, the impulse to lose ourselves in these things can be seen as a spiritual impulse.
By spiritual impulse I mean a desire to experience a lightness of being, and transcendence that does not take us away from our everyday experience but exists within it.
For surely, what we long for is not a world beyond this one (which for most of us would mean death), but to find some happiness within the perplexing conundrum of our everyday lives. We have only to read the works of people recovering from addictions to see that behind the trappings of disease lies a mystical yearning that is as authentic and urgent as that of any pilgrim.
Somewhere underneath bingeing, starving, exercising, drinking, hallucinating, climaxing, and purchasing, we are desperately seeking a way home to our self. The longer we have been in exile from this true self, the more desperate the yearning and, often, the more desperate the means of attaining pleasure.
For many the motivation to begin, sustain, or deepen a spiritual practice comes in the mindset of grappling with an inner ordering process. As we sift through our life experience we may notice that we consistently allow the urgent to override the important. We may realize that we have a deeply ingrained habit of giving the most time, energy, and commitment to things that ultimately are not very important and that leave us at the end of the day with little enduring satisfaction. We may feel as if we are working for a demanding unknown boss and that we have yet to receive a real paycheck….
When we realize that the entity that we call our “self” is the clearinghouse for everything that will happen to us, we may wake up to the realization that attending to the inner hygiene of this self is the most important thing we could possibly do in this lifetime.
Now we are ready to settle in for the long haul.
We’ve decided we are ready to grow up, and we have reached the sobering realization that it is our life and that there is only one person who can do the work.
~ From Bringing yoga to life: The everyday practice of enlightened living by Donna Farhi (HarperSanFrancisco, 2003).