Sense of Lack
Human Beings are born out of nature. We are part of nature. With each morsel of food we eat, we integrate it into our body. These magical machines transform that food to become a part of us growing these bodies, these integrations of the “external” into the “internal”. And when we expell waste from our body, that waste decomposes and becomes part of nature once again. “We” are an illusion, like every other illusion that we also see as separate. For if everything that we are comes from some material outside of us, then we are, in a very real way, the environment. And if everything we expell becomes part of the environment, then the environment is all of us. If our body is completely recycled every 7 years, then we are also not anything at all!
We are , therefore, not separate from nature. This thin layer of skin which we consider the boundary between subject and object, myself and the universe is just as ambigious as we ourselves are – separation is just another abstraction in our mind. As it is above, so it is below. Just as nature is dynamic, ever-changing, alive and endlessly creating new forms, that too is our own nature. To suppress the limitless potential that resides within us, as a very unique form of nature is nature attempting to limit her own nature! This inability to realize that our own latent creativity is none other than nature herself’s creativity as it manifest through us is the source of much discontent in our human lives. Nature herself has built into us the guiding energy itself – for when we are at our most creative, nature has fashioned body responses of great bliss as a way to reward our alignment with the way.
The Wealth of Being
We have the limitless potential of the entire universe within each one of us. When we can awaken with full confidence to this reality, we dispell the illusion that has kept all of us poor, which has kept all of us thinking we are more impoverished than others. Just as we are truly wealthy when we are aware that that is our natural state, we become poor when we deny ourselves the truth of our inherent wealth. And with that illusory poverty, “poverty mentality” as many spiritual teachers call it, comes all the suffering of the world. For it is then that we begin to grasp for things to fill the perceived hole within us.
Nothing we do can fill it, however, because those things cannot ever fill a falsely created emptiness; only true wisdom can reveal our own self-created mythology. Freedom comes when we finally see and when we truly experience our inherent wealth, we need nothing to fall into bliss. That is lesson in the parable of the old monk who lived in a small hut on the mountain. When visited by a thief one night who had stolen his meager belongings, the monk peacefully responded “poor fellow, if only I could have given him the moon!”
The sacred is already here in each moment of our life. It cannot be made more sacred by anything we do. It is sacred in the miracle of simply being. All objects are simply manifestations of that fundamental state of being and can neither add to it or detract from it.
The Poverty to Doing
We are misnamed – for if we were named to reflect our actual state, then we should be called “Human Doings” rather than “Human Beings”. While the human being is a being who has accomplished their journey and can be fully in the present, the Human Doing is constantly doing in order to achieve something. This automatically implies that the being is fundamentally operating from a sense of lack.
That which is free
is the source of the greatest wealth
That which is not
is the greatest source of misery
Where Lack Manifests
That beings cannot recognize this state is the ordinary state of affairs. To even say that there is a “mundane” world is already to acknowledge the widespread view of fallen from the sacred. Indeed, our entire world, it seems, is designed to continue fostering this illusion. Every major institution reinforces the illusion of lack.
Ernest Becker and the Denial of Death
To put the sense of lack in more concrete terms, let’s talk about death. Death is what awaits each and every one of us and life is, to a very large extent a lifelong mission to find a coping strategy to deal with death. Our sense of lack finds its deepest expression in our dread of death.
Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker is best known for his Pulitzer-prize winning book, The Denial of Death, which casts all activities of human societies as ways of denying the constant dread of death. In its most basic terms, Becker argues that all our social institutions are immortality projects – ways to counter the undenial facts of our demise.
- Money, business and finance gives us power in the face of powerlessness at the time of our death
- Fame allows our name and identity to survive, even when our physical body ceases to exist
- Consumerism is the compulsion to buy things that bring us momentary happiness, distractions that take our mind away from thinking consciously about our death
- Romance leads to sexual reproduction which guarantees a clone of ourselves will be around even when we cease to be
- Sports is the conquering of others, when death will conquer all of us in the end
- Religion promise us eternal life if we only follow some rules
The success with which these social institutions keep us away from consciously thinking about death is demonstrated by how few people consciously hold it in their presence. People only consciously think about death when there is no other choice, for example, when they realize they have a life-threatening disease. Even then, many are still in denial, leading to even more pain.
Life fails to find purpose for the very reason that we have suppressed the deepest question of all out of fear. A wound left unhealed only festers and grows until it becomes a threat. In a simliar way, our deep repression of death creates toxins within our psychological life which can threaten to severely undermine it. to heal a wound is often a painful experience. Yet, unless we go through that pain, we can never truly heal and our life will constantly be accompanied by a fuzzy, vague but deep pain.