Walking on the fire of an unmet need

For young people, it’s easy to project hopes into the future because time is on youth’s side. However, as we get older, the future has less appeal, perhaps, because it also means aging with the health concerns and psychological challenges that might entail. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to find a way of feeling hope in the present, even if we have a need that’s unmet, maybe one that’s been unmet for a long time already. So how can we feel hope and fulfilment in such circumstances?

One technique – from what I label the way of the warrior because it requires copious amounts of courage – is to walk on the fire of the emptiness of your unmet need i.e. to look your need square in the face. A pitfall to be aware of is the unconscious act of projecting your needs onto a person or thing as a way of finding relief when a need is being unmet. Projection oftentimes sooner or later brings suffering, when/if the person or thing identified as filling the need does not in fact do so, and this truth eventually becomes undeniable and has to be acknowledged. Sometimes, for better or worse, there’s nothing or nobody on which an unmet need can actually be projected. This brings the pain to the fore more quickly because there’s no temporary quick-fix via the projection. Both scenarios point to the necessity of finding strength and balance when in the face of an unmet need that leaves you in an emotional and mental no (wo)man’s land.

One way up in those instances is to go inwards and look your emptiness in the face rather than filling it with fantasies, imagined futures, unfounded hopes, etc. If you can look at the emptiness with a clear mind filled with no-thought, you may at first feel a huge surge of emotion (pain); however, the flame of your penetrating no-mind will finally touch the still peace that prevails on the inner side.

No matter to what extent your attempts with this technique are successful, always end by praising yourself for your courage. Recognise your strength in being able to feel empowered even when you’re clearly in a painful void and few options appear to be available to you.

Excerpt from “She Who Is Unto Herself”

14 thoughts on “Walking on the fire of an unmet need

  1. Very comprehensively put. Well, someone had to say it and I am glad you did. When we consider our actions, our aspirations, and ambitions; how much do we really consider about life in it’s entirety and our personal needs and wants. Our personal yearnings always takes precedence and we indulge in this mindless goal setting and we have built an ecosystem which allows us to be selfish. As I had mentioned before, mobility cannot be considered to be development. We are just moving ahead without any deep and meaningful agenda. We are spending energy on frivolous activities which creates a void, within. Another well written passage from your book. Thank you for sharing this, Sam. Love and greetings, Amitav.

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    • Dear Amitav, many thanks for your kind words and for sharing some very interesting perspectives that move the discussion forwards. I think that many people whose “personal yearnings take precedence” and who are “spending energy on frivolous activities” are not at all aware that there is anything “mindless” or “selfish” about that. For them, the “deep and meaningful agenda” is the one dictated by mainstream society, which (in the West) promotes the individual, the rational mind, monetary gain, competition, domination, etc. In the West, there is very little sense of the human as one component part of the manifestation of Life – instead, the human is seen as the master, the dictator, the ruler of all other kingdoms of nature. This leads to the “selfish ecosystem” you refer to and the “mindless goal setting”. There’s loads more to say on this subject matter 🙂 Thanks so much again for interacting and exchanging – it’s hugely appreciated and is always very thought-provoking. Love & blessings, Sam 🙂

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  2. Interesting writing, Sam. The concept of “need” implies that an individual cannot exist without fulfilling that need. Therein dwells the Human dilemma. Most Human Beings seemingly do not distinguish between essential and preferential needs. As you effectively point out, both the former and the latter can become problematic. The “warrior” will seek and attain clarity.

    I always look forward to your writing and thought process.

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    • Thanks so much, Rob, for adding these additional insights, and for your kind words. I greatly admire your poetry so it means a lot to me that you show interest in my writing. Thanks again. Warm greetings for a sunny weekend, Sam 🙂

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  3. ‘To walk on the fire of the emptiness of your unmet need’ Wow! Now that is truly awesome word-smithery! I love how you willingly and abundantly share your rich wisdom and deep spiritual insights Sam. I urge your readers to purchase a copy of this remarkable book. I was so enthused after reading myself that I wrote a review on Amazon (Deep in the JUNG-le). A Five Star Read!

    For me those quick-fix projections are comparable to Social Media’s external like buttons … meaningless and without real communication, for they encourage us to waste hours avoiding ourselves and the emptiness within. Encouraging us to forever project onto others our hopes and needs. Not always, but often a game of … ‘you like me, and I’ll like you’ … futile, senseless activity which creates much of the emptiness you speak of.

    I admire the warrior’s whole-hearted cry of ‘Look your emptiness in the face!’ What a fantastic mantra to awaken the peace that triumphs within. Oh how you throw our souls up high as you encourage us to acknowledge courage and recognise strength. You’re a great writer Sam. Love and blessings, Deborah.

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    • Thanks so much, Deborah, for your hugely gracious words and insightful feedback. It’s always such a pleasure to read your perspectives. I find mainstream, modern-day living in the West (I can’t speak for other cultures) exacerbates the human tendency to avoid/repress pain and, therefore, to refrain from looking our emptiness in the face. We are all so busy – or if we’re not “busy”, we’re perceived as being lazy. Moreover, our society promotes “quick fixes” to any “problem” – like allopathic medicine that is eager to “cut and paste” rather than wait for the process of mind-body-spirit healing to unfold. Sometimes, the “empty”, the ailing, the imperfect is “the point” – from a spiritual perspective i.e. the circumstances that arise from these states are inherent with potential for growth and additional insight – like the hidden gold you have referred to in some of the comments on your blog. Thanks so much for your support of my book “She Who Is Unto Herself” and for expressing this on Amazon. I’m touched and grateful! Love & blessings, Sam 🙂

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  4. For myself, I tend to focus on those moments of projection and forget to be on the look-out for its companion “nothing or nobody on which an unmet need can actually be projected”. The wise and potent words, “to walk on the fire of the emptiness of your unmet need” indeed requires much courage, but so necessary in order to avoid the grasping for “fantasies, imagined futures, unfounded hopes, etc.” Thank you for reminding me to endeavor for moments at least of “no-mind”.

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    • Learning to skillfully navigate our human “spaceship” isn’t easy, especially as sometimes it requires us to sit “comfortably” in “discomfort”. It also necessitates a developed level of mindfulness and non-attachment as you rightly infer. Thanks so much for sharing and interacting. Warm greetings, Sam 🙂

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  5. Your latest insightful post reminds me of the fourth component of the four limitless ones of Shambhala Buddhism, which I phrase as “I dwell in equanimity free from craving, aversion and indifference.” It reminds me to be grateful for all that –not needing it to be that way or needing it to be different or not giving a flying fig about it. Just to hold it lightly in my consciousness with love, respect, curiosity, compassion and gratitude allowing it to remain there or release itself whenever it has served its higher purpose. A tricky and worthwhile energetic intention.

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    • Thanks so much Deborah for sharing these additional, insightful perspectives from the Buddhist tradition and also your own personal experience. Much appreciated. With warm wishes, always, Sam 🙂

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  6. This is one of the many reasons why I fear growing old. Because one of the many things that keeps me going right now are hopes and dreams and the future. I only hope I can face my fears gracefully when I am at such a point in my life that I can no longer depend on hopes or dreams. This post is very helpful and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your wonderful insight.

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  7. So incredibly insightful as always, I think sitting with ones emotions is something that is extremely hard to do and we are taught from a young age to try to escape or distract ourselves from pain. Facing them, feeling them full on demands courage and we could all benefit from making a habit out of this way of dealing with more painful emotions and feelings.

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    • Thanks for a great comment 🙂 Yes, “repression” of emotional pain (escape/distraction) is a frequent companion of “projection”. Repression is promoted by society as a technique for coping with pain (“don’t be a sissy”, “cheer up”, “cry baby”, “just, put it out of your mind”, etc.) If the emotional pain is very strong, repressing it will likely cause it to simmer away in the subconscious, with various possible knock-on effects on a person’s health and wellbeing in the future. Warm greetings, Sam 🙂

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