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What We Have is What We Need

December 4, 2018



It's occurred to me over time that I have really no idea what I need. I mean, I know I need food, water, clothes, clean air, and such; but in the big picture, in terms of what truly benefits me in this life and what I'm called to do, I'm clueless. I have preferences, of course, and I have lots of ideas about what I want, but these have little to do with what I truly need, except by accident. And I'm not alone in this, at least so far as I can tell. None of us truly know what is best for us. From a human perspective the future is a tangled mystery, and our place in this incomprehensible world is even more obscure.


How, then, are we to know what to do? The great majority of people simply follow their desires around, but that's no good. Such an approach leads to a predicament in which the ego-self is at the center of everything, and that's the worst result possible. If, then, we're not to go around just doing what ego says we want to do, and we don't know what we need, how are we to act? In the art of life this, I think, is the question that it takes the most skill to answer, especially as the answer must go beyond concepts and must be demonstrated in the circumstances of a person's life.


The fact is that I don’t need to know in a conceptual way what is best for me, because what is best is always what is happening. What we need is what lies before us. This is always the case, all the time, without exception. We're frequently inclined to object to the circumstances that stand in front of us for various reasons, and we love to complain, but the fact remains, at least in my experience, that my needs will be served if I'm willing to engage with whatever it is that Life offers right here, right now, and see it through to the end.


I would imagine that everyone knows the experience of looking back over what has come before and seeing the thread of intelligence, we might almost say of intentionality or method, through what has passed, that leads all the way to the present moment. We may have resisted right on through, but even so it's often plain that everything that's occurred has been purposeful, in the sense that it taught us what we needed to learn at the time, and that we would not be who we are now without everything that has come before. When I look back in this way it always seems to me that a compassionate hand has orchestrated everything for my good. I can see what I needed then, and how that need was met. In this moment I can see neither what I need nor how that need will be met, but with much experience over time of the subtle and infinitely kind way my life has manifested, I'm inclined to trust that whatever I need will be given me once again, if I will merely let go into what I'm offered and say yes.


This is such a good and skillful way to live! I can't say that I accomplish it perfectly at all, but my aptitude improves over time with practice. And it is a skill; alignment with the movement of Life as it flows towards its unknowable destination doesn’t happen merely by chance. This is something we can practice. We can practice dropping our preferences, letting go of what we believe we want (which, importantly, is not the same as renouncing or avoiding what we want), engaging with whatever challenge or opportunity lies in our path, and stepping forward. That's the way that ends in a complete and fulfilling life.

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