I remembered a teaching from Dharmavidya whilst contemplating the complexities of the 'Self Perfection Project' recently. The classical spiritual analogy of 'The Wolves of Desire' presents an ultimatum of sorts. The wolves represent our primal instincts which have become distorted in the lifelong pursuit of pleasure, and tendency towards that which is bad for us. According to the proverb, if we nurture the beasts that arise in the form of gratification and indulgence we make them stronger and more hungry and we set ourselves up to be overcome with greed again in the future. So which wolf are we supposed to feed if we are to maintain a sense of serenity and to preserve our spiritual integrity? The official answer is, the one that is the most virtuous. We are expected to accept and nurture the good ones whilst all the others get beaten back! For me this is a minefield of guilt, shame, frustration and more of the repression that makes me sick.
I once had a dog called Frank. We were very good friends. Frank had a very specific set of needs, if these needs were not met he could be very troublesome. Because Frank couldn't tell me what he needed he would get frustrated and eat everything, and I mean EVERYTHING! Copper pipes, plastic tubs, his own extra strength plastic bed base, watches and cushions were all on the menu if he felt neglected. Over time I worked out that if I walked him a lot, fed him enough and loved him as much as he wanted, he was much more manageable and pleasant to live with. Frank was an explicit reflection of my inner wolves. Even though I didn't realise this at the time, the lesson remains for me to learn from and some fifteen years later it's significance is very relevant!
Dharmavidya taught me that, to acknowledge my needy wolves and feed them a moderate amount of what they want is to render them less ferocious and reduce the negative influences that they can have in my life. This can make for more freedom in the spiritual sense and more spacious encounters with otherness as I become more available for the world. This and Frank's lesson from the past, showed me that I can't afford to ignore or neglect any parts of myself and that any attempts to do so, any denial of my human nature, are tantamount to Spiritual Materialism, which could be considered one of the main stumbling blocks of the spiritual life.
So now my job is to learn to give myself a break, which is not as easy as it sounds, by the way.
Namo Amida Bu( :
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