Tag Archives: wanting

Wanting and spirituality

I’ve been considerably exposed to the idea (mostly, but not exclusively Buddhist) that as wanting is the cause of all suffering, the goal of the spiritual life is to free the self from want. What this line of thought does not express so clearly is the logic underpinning it. To escape from wanting is to escape from living. It’s a process of transcending the realities of this life, on the assumption that something better than this life is available. Many religions are, in essence, about getting out of all this nasty, messy, hurty physicality and on to the good stuff.

As a Druid, my spiritual life is rooted in the earth. As a maybeist, I just don’t have the clarity of belief about afterlife to want to dedicate this one to reaching for what might or might not come next. If an approach isn’t relevant right now, it’s not going to work for me. (Other people with other beliefs and world views are welcome to do differently, this is not a judgement of anyone else’s perspective, just an expression of what works for me and what doesn’t.) As I don’t want to transcend this life, do I need to uphold the same approach to wanting that is held by religions that are about escaping from the physical? I think not. Avoiding want is only a spiritual virtue if it connects to the spiritual goal of transcendence. We’ve turned want into a suspect thing. ‘I want doesn’t get’ and all that.

Recently James blogged at Contemplative Inquiry about wanting, and I wanted to respond in some way… so here we are.


I want


Not climbing imagined ladders

To pure, elated wants

That are other-named



Not flesh transcending

Life denied

Nor pain ignoring

Not so live


Only raw truth

Animal self

Tired, hungry,

Living, longing


Vulnerable honest

Yearning, seeking

Questing craving

Desire to exist


No quiet escape

To unfeeling places

Present in want

Gifted in wanting.