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A Lecture:

Neediness of one`s Environment 



We each make our own rule unconsciously about how we interact with the environment.   I make the rule that when I drop my pencil, it falls to the table.   There is no necessity for this to be the case, but that has been the observed reaction in every situation where WiL wasn`t involved.  So I made the rule, and things tend to hold by it.  However acurate Newtonian physics is with the physical world, it does not hold true in the emotional world.   Hence, it has only limited applicability to the world of personal relationships.

However, it will be observed that people often judge their personal relationships along the principles of physics, take for example hydrolics.  I tend to observe in myself the tendency to put "pressure" on a relationship in order to effect a change.   Say I would like my partner to wash the dishes.  I might say to her, "would you please wash the dishes tonight, I`m tuckered out."  Hence, by exerting a little pressure, I can win myself a few hours reprise.  However, taken to the extremes, these principles do not work.   For just as fluids at high temperature and pressure operate under unexplainable principles, so to does love

Likewise, in less personal relationships, such as being a traveller in a strange land, and interacting with the locals where we share no commonality of language or culture, we have certain expectations nevertheless.   We expect not to be cheated, we expect and insist upon our right to personal safety, and feel justified in being indignant when attacked.  These rules we have made for ourselves have no necessity in and of themselves, and yet we feel entitled to them as correlaries to our presumed right to exist.  However, there is a serious and often unacknowleged distinction between one`s right to exist in ones own home, and the right to exist in another`s.  And much greater still, the right to exist in a culture where you contribute nothing but your Rupees. 

Still we carry these predispositions, or "rules" with us, and play the game accordingly.  Now, its inevitable in any situation, be it with a lover or with a stranger that the rules by which we play won`t match. Nevertheless, "Interpersonal Relationship" could be defined as the attempt to reconsile the difference between eachother our own rules.  We redefine the rules of the game to include the other, and play differently.   This, too, is true with strangers.  And when I approach a shopkeeper in India, or when I approach a shopkeeper in Seattle, I will play by a different set of rules.  This could also be defined as civilization.   The existence of cognizantly agreed upon rules; the Rule of Law.

However, emotional maturity could also be defined similarly.   What can be considered the essential mark of maturity is the willingness to adapt and to play by others` rules.  There is a choice to be made between getting indignant over a flaunting of ones own rules of the games whereby a foul was commited by ones own standards, or rather to see whether injury was intended: did your lover break her rules as well as yours, or was she still within the bounds of fairplay on her field, in her game.   Maturity is the willingness to change the rule one plays by.  Stubborness in this regard is problematic to society, and contrary to the principles of civilization.

So when I walk into the Sikh gurudwara, I cover my head.  When I give an offering to the temple in return for my free meal, I bow to the alter.  Its a show of respect, yet against the principles of my own religion.  Thus we escape the extremes of fanaticism and nihilism.   To show respect where respect is due, regardless of ones own predispositions.  I touch the feet of a man I don`t respect, but simply because I am in his temple, in his home, and he loved me enough to invite me there, and though his "holiness" leaves a lot to be desired, his heart was still big enough to let me in.   Did I let him into mine?  How many people can fit in one`s heart?

Neediness arises from the unwillingness to adapt.  One develops a sense of entitlement in fact.  I am entitled to my security, I am entitled to clean food, I am entitled to proper bowel movements, I deserve clean sheets when I pay 200 rupees a night.   Where`s my tea, its been thirty minutes!  I`m entitled to prompt service as a customer.   These all arise from neediness, which arises in turn from a failure to adapt to the new rules of the game.   The more miserable a backpacker is, the more evident is their stubbornness and ignorance with regard to the localized rules.  Flowing with the changes is survival.   For when you are 12,000 kilometers from your home town, ain`t nobody got your back.  You are in no position to enforce your version of Truth.

Neediness is another term for emptiness or starvation.  Having a lack that needs to be filled.  It is a perception of absence, and hence, the thing sought is thought real.  But its hard to fill emotional voids one is discovering for the first time.   It was traumatic for me to be without what I considered to be a proper cup of coffee when I was in Europe and surrounded by espresso machines and beautiful beans.  But I got over it and ordered the Cafe au Lait, or the Cafe con Leche or the Caffe Latte as appropriate.   Now I drink nothing but Chai, and don`t even think about coffee.  And I never make special requests of the chai wallah.  When in Tibetan culture, you drink your tea with butter and salt and you like it, and you don`t ask for sugar (after the tenth time... though last monestary I went to we had to turn down softdrinks and water before they offered us tea.  All the monks were drinking softdrinks They were adapting to the Nainital paradigm).    But that homesickness, that craving for a dark black fair trade organic sumatran coffee so thick its a meal, is neediness.  Neediness arises from percieved emptiness, emptiness arises from the perception of future gains and present lack.   Lack arises from not realizing that you have everything you need at the present moment.  And that everything you need is available.  And if its not available, then you don`t need it.   There is no Starbucks here.   And it will be a long, long time till there is.  (And I will gladly cut the ribbon at that ceremony, incidentally.  A Starbucks here would be hilarious.  There isn`t even a starbucks in Shimla.  HELLO!  oh wait.  A helicopter just flew by, circled the town, then flew away.   Maybe they`re on their way.)

So just as in a relationship, when I feel "something is missing" or think "why couldn`t she be more....," I am percieving a lack, an emptiness, and a longing, a craving.   My craving takes the form of clinging when I start to believe in the existence, or the reality of the thing "I" feel "I" am lacking (two different "I"s incidentally.  The first is an inward projecting outward, and the second is an outward pressing inward).   Yet, it is hardly likely that there exists anything in the world that will complete you, and fill that void.   If you cannot be fulfilled by the local chai, then you have no place in the Kingdom of Heaven.   For even there you`ll be bitching about something.


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