Religious leaders of almost all flavors like to rant against our evolutionary desire for more more more. Unless you’ve been immersed in a “prosperity gospel” church for the past twenty years you know what I’m talking about. Once our basic needs are covered, “more” material stuff doesn’t make us happier, so our religions teach us to focus our time and energy on things like family, spiritual work, and work to help those whose basic needs aren’t covered.
This makes sense, which is probably why it’s been taught in Eastern and Western religions, in conservative and liberal traditions.
At the same time, the reality is that most of the advances of humanity (both material and spiritual) haven’t been made by balanced individuals. They’ve been made by people who were driven to discover, create, build and achieve more more more. I’m reminded of Thomas Edison’s famous quote “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” To me, that is the essence of drive.
How many great works of art and literature and religion were created by people who wouldn’t know balance if a seesaw hit them in the butt? The cliché of the “tortured artist” is a cliché for a reason.
And that dichotomy brings me to this: once you’ve got “enough” stuff and you realize it, once your spiritual practice is satisfying, once you’ve achieved a balance in your life (precarious though it may be), how do you walk away from that to seek something more, something deeper?
I don’t have the answer to that question, but I know I need to find it. Because the call to something deeper is strong, and I’d rather walk away on my own terms than have it ripped away on someone else’s.