The Union Path Podcast - A practical spiritual podcast about truth, awareness, and walking the path of unity.
The Union Path Podcast
"What Do You Really Want?"
What do you want? What do you really want? How much time do you spend pondering this question? How much time have you spent with this question?
Because, to me anyway, this is interesting. This is really a good way to know ourselves. This is really a meaningful and important part of self-awareness, of knowing truly, really what we want, of exploring after it, of pondering it, of being curious about it, spending time with it, spending effort on it and using it as a way to get a more full understanding, a more deep understanding, a more rich and real understanding of ourselves through understanding what actually matters to us what we actually value what we actually want.
I mean, there's a lot of reasons why a question like this can get suppressed or avoided or ignored in our own life that a lot of times, either through expediency or just because it seems to be the way things are, we can really try to tamp down and ignore what we actually want. We can strive to conform, we can strive to just get along, we can strive to just get ahead and just abandon ourselves, at least partially abandon ourselves through abandoning what we actually want. But although it seems simple, it seems obvious. I would bet that a lot of us don't actually spend a lot of time and energy thinking about this. Perhaps we've been raised or inculcated in a way to believe that these sorts of questions are trivial, these sorts of questions are selfish, that these sorts of questions are self-serving and short-sighted. We should be more selfless. We should be more focused on other people. We should be more focused on what other people need. In fact, we could find virtue perhaps by diminishing our own needs or diminishing our own desires, diminishing what we want as much as possible, thus elevating the perceived or communicated wants and desires of others. We can find virtue, we can find wholeness, through the service of what other people want. Yet somehow what we want needs to be diminished, needs to be devalued, needs to be thought less of. And this is my belief that we'll never really truly know ourselves, we'll never really truly be aware of who and what we really are, until we're really aware of what we actually want. But that is a core part of us speaking to us, that is a more idealized version of ourselves calling us forward, inviting us towards a bigger life, a more full life, a more rich life that we can only know and we can only experience through listening, through honoring, through following, through going along and going with what we actually want.
But in my opinion anyway, there are other subtle benefits to getting really clear, to really pursuing this question of what do I really want, and that is we can actually entertain things we can actually try ideas on. We can try things on, we can try things out, we can sort of emulate our own desires before we actually experience them. Because, in kind of a funny way, when we suppress and repress what we want, we can actually think we want different things than we actually do. That maybe it's something about that secrecy, maybe it's something about the fact that they're hidden. Maybe it's something in the fact that our strongest desires are in response to the negative things we currently experience that can lead us a bit astray, that can make us think we want things we don't.
For example, if we feel alienated from a group, if we feel cast off or exiled from a group, it can be really easy to think that what we really want the most is whatever the group seems to want the most, whatever the group seems to value the most, whatever would re-engratiate ourselves with the group, would re-establish our standing, would reverse and resolve the alienation that we feel, the rejection that we feel, and would make us part of something again, a forced connection and community in feeling a part of something. It is important, but not at the expense of ourselves, not if we have to trade ourselves away, not if that becomes our entire focus, our entire reason for being, and so, at the very least, I think it's important to entertain these sorts of ideas, to value them, to be curious about them, to spend time with them and just really get into this idea of what do I really want. You said it's a way to better know ourselves. You said it has a way to better design our life, using it as a way to find better alignment within our life Because, of course, if we experience a lot of conflict, if we experience a lot of discomfort, if we experience a lot of ill-fitting and itchy and scratchy experiences in our life, a lot of times that can be due to doing things that don't actually fit us, don't actually serve us in some way in some level. Aren't us that we're being someone else, we're adopting a persona, we're playing a character, we're playing a part. It isn't actually real, it isn't actually us. Because, in my opinion, in order to live a full, rich, deep life, we have no choice but to pursue what we actually want, what we really want deep on the inside. Usually, this extends far deeper, with far more meaning, far more personal meaning than more superficial aims like material gain, prominence, power, importance, vanity, attractiveness. Once we get underneath our more superficial desires, we can really start to get down to what actually matters to us, what is actually real, what we actually want.
Another interesting thing that can happen by pondering this question is by really sitting with and not trying to force an answer, but really just keeping this as an open question, as an open-ended question what do I want? What do I really want what really matters to me. What emerges and what comes up can actually be pretty surprising, can actually be different things than we thought, because so much of our wanting at least so much of our sort of reactive wanting is habitual, is something we've always done, is something we've trained ourselves to do, is sort of the rut of reactive behavior that we've built up over a lifetime. Then, when we get an opportunity to have something, a lot of times we'll choose the same thing over and over again. By pondering this question of what do I really want, we can ask ourselves are these things that I'm doing, that I think I want, actually things that I want? Is this wanting actually real? Does this actually fit? Is this something old that I'm just continuing to do over and over again? Or is this something that never actually fit, that I'm continuing to do because I don't know what else to do? I'm kind of locked in a habit. I'm locked in a reaction.
I think we've all heard the kind of stories of, you know, when people are on their death bed. No one ever wishes they worked more. I think that's a fine idea, but I don't think that's 100% true. But at the very least, the idea that that's trying to express is that, on our death bed, of looking back when we've run out of runway, when we have no other options and we're kind of at a terminal point where there's nothing else we can do, we wish we would have spent our time better. We wish we would have done things that were more meaningful to us, wish we'd have done things that mattered more. And sure, maybe something that would have mattered more is for us to have worked more, us to have done more work, more meaningful work, things that actually matter to us.
But so many of us get locked in the jobs and the roles that don't actually mean that much to us at all, that end up being a means to an end, that end up just doing something to make something else happen, and we can spend so many years of our lives doing this. But it's not just with work. We can do it with life too. We can turn our pursuits, our activities, our endeavors into means to an end as well. We can feel dissatisfied, we can feel kind of empty, we can feel unfulfilled Because we're not actually doing the meaningful, we're not actually striving after what really matters. Our doing has become disengaged with meaning, and when we spend a lifetime doing this.
I think it's easy to wish. I think it's easy to see the folly in doing that, in prioritizing things that didn't actually turn out to matter that much, and wish we had made different choices instead. And obviously the value the story is to kind of wake us up, is to kind of realize that, well, now is the time. But if we want to do something different, now is the time to do something different. Now is the only time that we'll ever be and that there's a value. It's important to do things that actually matter, that are actually meaningful, that we actually want to do.
And that's where this idea of want and desire can get so twisted and conflicted, because of course we all have superficial and more base wants. On some level we're all vain. On some level we're all suspicious. On some level we're all competitive. On some level we're all jealous. On some level we're all greedy. On some level we're all gluttonous. These are all parts of the human experience. They're all incumbent of being the human animal, of being alive. And of course we can find a lot of value in working to transcend these qualities or realize that there's much more to life than just our own appetites, our own self-interest gratification.
But when we get down to what we want, when we get down to what we really want, what really matters to us, that's when things like meaning and purpose start to come into focus. Then, when we get to things that are really important to us, then there's automatically a depth that we experience that the deeper that we go with our desires, deeper we go into things like meaning as well, and so it's a useful exercise. It's an interesting exercise to just ponder this idea what do I really want? And leave the question open. Know that it'll never be fully answered. We'll never have the 100% correct answer to that question.
Life is a never-ending series of rising desires, of rising wants. This is what drives us to do anything. This is why we do anything, because on some level, we want to. Even if we feel put upon, even if we feel like we have no choice, we always have choice. We always have choice how we respond. Even if we're forced to do something, on some level, we're choosing to go along with that force. And so, since we're the ones who get to choose, ultimately, what we do and our lives, our experience of our life, is the culmination of the choices that we make, we might as well align our choices with what really matters, but I might as well take the time to really get down to what's actually important, what's actually meaningful, what's actually satisfying, what's actually nourishing, what do I really want?
And if we can sit with this question, if we can leave it kind of open-ended, if we can do a really simple exercise of just pondering this question but not actively trying to answer it, just stay in the question, just think about the idea, focus on the idea, pitha mantra what do I really want? Just dwell on that question. As long as we can Not only ask the question to get to an answer, but ask the question because you find the question itself interesting. And as you ponder this question, as you sit with it, as you experience it, as you live with it, maybe add in the other idea because I can have it. What do I want? Because I can have it? What do I want Because I can have it?
So we imbue this idea, this curiosity, this investigation into what we actually want and we inject it, we inform it with confidence, with faith, with knowing that we can actually have it, and then see what tumbles out of that. It may be what you think, but it may surprise you as well and the value of sitting with it for a while, of not just jumping to the first thing that comes to mind is it can allow us to get under these habits, under these default reactions, under upbringing, under culture, under training, under societal pressure, under tradition, under habits, under expectations, under all of that, and get down to what do we actually want. What do we really want Apart from all of those things? And when we do, when we really take the time to endeavor after this question, I think we'll discover something new. I think we'll have our consciousness expanded a bit because we'll realize that perhaps that maybe, just maybe, what we think we want so much isn't what we actually want. We actually want something different.
And maybe the dissatisfaction, maybe the conflict, maybe the lack of fulfillment, the lack of meaning, the lack of passion, the lack of purpose in our life is directly relative to the fact that we're not actually pursuing what we really want, because we didn't actually know, we weren't aware of it, because the thing about becoming aware of what we really want, what really matters to us, is that can't help but change our direction, that can't help but influence our behavior, that can't help but cause us to make different choices, to create a different reality, to create a different experience, to live a different life, that these sort of base-level, fundamental knowings really do change us, really do change our lives. Because now we're operating from a different place. Now we're operating from a different knowing. In a lot of ways we're operating from a different state of being, because our consciousness has been expanded, because we know more now of who we really are, because we know more now what we really want, what really matters to us.
And that, pondering this question, spending time to really think about this, spending time to really try to let some answers emerge, to let some answers come from a deeper place than just our own reactions, our own habits, we can not only really learn something, but we can really expand ourselves as well. We can connect with life on a deeper level. And just the superficial and just going through life just to get things done and going through life as a means to an end, we can connect with a greater richness, we can connect with a greater depth, we can connect with greater color. We can connect with something far more profound than the superficialities of life. We can find depth when we find meaning, when we find purpose, when we get to what really matters, when we get to what really energizes us, what we're really passionate about, what we really care about, what really makes our life better.
Because, I'd make the argument, it's my belief, that the deeper we go with this, the left self-centered it actually is, the more we actually go inside, the deeper we go into ourselves, the more we find bonding and connection with others, the more we find commonality, the more we find that, you know, we're all not really all that different, are we? We have a lot more in common than we don't. There's a lot more that connects us than divides us. There's something that feels good, there's something that feels enriching around connection to others. There's something gratifying about service to others, because I think ultimately, on some level, we understand that if we connect with what we really want, then that's typically delivered through the involvement of others, because we involve ourselves in what they want by serving them and they're involved with what we want by serving us. That's a bond that unites all of us.
This idea of what we really want, based out of a sense of who we really are, these fundamental wants, these fundamental drives, these fundamental passions, these fundamental desires actually connect all of us that on some level, it's what we're all made of. It's the energy that's being expressed through us. That's just an interesting thing to be aware of. That the deeper, the more meaningful, the more real that we get into what we want. We find ourselves serving others. We find ourselves helping others. We find ourselves being a part of what others are doing. That's only on the very tippy top layers that we're only in it for our own self-interest, that we're only in it for our own gratification.
When we get to these depths of meaning and passion and purpose, we can't help but be connected to others. We find ourselves fulfilling other people's meaning and passion and purpose while fulfilling ours at the same time. We find connection, we find union with others through striving after what really matters, what we really want. We find what we really want. We find our ideal place in this life. That has a bit of symmetry, it has a bit of congruence with other people's ideal place too. That this is a shared experience, that our wanting ends up paying off someone else's wanting and their wanting ends up paying off ours. That this is the transmission of connection. This is pure, unfiltered, unrestricted, unadulterated life energy flowing to and through us and everyone else as well. Again, it's just an interesting thing to sit with and, at the very least, for no other benefit than getting to know ourselves and no other benefit but living a more intentional, grounded, connected life.
It's useful and important and worthwhile to entertain this question, to spend time with this question what do I really want? Walk around with it, sit with it, live with it, be with it and let answers come in, let our possibilities come in. Open yourself up all possibilities, because that's a beautiful thing about dwelling in a question and not jumping immediately to an answer is that when we're dwelling in the question, all possibilities are on the table. That is our time of maximum flexibility. That is our time of maximum optionality. That's when we are the most free, we are the least bound because we haven't chosen yet, we haven't committed ourselves to a course of action yet. We're open. We can choose anything we wish. We can sit in, we can sit with that abundance of options and then make a choice when that time is obvious. That know that we'll know when we know.
But in the meantime, sit with this question what do we really want? And let ourselves speak to us, let our hearts speak to us and actually listen, because, again, our hearts may tell us some things that our minds either don't know or have forgotten. Then we can allow ourselves to be expanded because of this question. We can allow ourselves to know more about what's true and real about ourselves by really endeavoring after and entertaining this question what do I really want? What really matters to me, what really fulfills me, what really nourishes me, what is really meaningful to me and dwell on that question, create that void for answers to flow into and then choose to pursue whatever we're inspired to.
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest ways to create change in our life. You just sit with this question what do I really want? And then let the change naturally emerge, kind of like the idea of, instead of stalking the forest for an animal, of sitting down quietly in the forest and letting the animals emerge. And we don't have to make things happen as much as we think we do. We don't have to force answers. We can wait, we can allow, we can create this space and allow answers to fill themselves in, allow answers to emerge on their own.
Especially, if we're trying to create change, a lot of times that change has to come from places that we've never actually thought about before, ideas we've never actually entertained. So because we need to get out of our own thinking, we actually have to stop thinking, we have to let a different part of ourselves speak and we have to listen. And, in my experience anyway, this is always an interesting exercise. It's always a very useful way to come at creating change. Just dwell on the question what do I really want? And then pursue whatever I'm inspired to and that life lead me, rather than feeling I have to always dictate every direction. To receive new answers, by spending longer dwelling in the question, by expanding my consciousness, by allowing a larger part of myself to speak and not only having the awareness to listen, but the courage to follow it, to wear with all, to try to do something different, to create change, and this change is created. This change is possible because I dwelled in the question and one of the most important questions that I can dwell in is what do I really want?