Maya "sugar highs" and delayed gratification
Sep 01, 1997 07:46 PM
by Titus Roth
Assuming a teacher has traveled the long road to spiritual experience, I
wonder from a strictly pedagogic point of view, how he or she can make a case
for impulse control and delayed gratification without just saying, "You
haven't experienced what I'm promising. For now just go through the motions.
If you do go through the motions with patience, you will see what I mean and
will thenceforth do it because you want to. Along the way, you will get a few
signs of encouragement, as well as many opportunities to bail out for easier
The alternative for a seeker following spiritual disciplines is possibly
getting burnt so many thousands of times by wrong choice that he or she tires
of the Maya game and is desperately willing to try anything else. But I'm not
so sure about the necessity of that. Addicts will cling to their drugs or
alcohol even when they are in absolute misery - to the point of death.
Enter the usefulness of rules ...
Ann Ree Colton called rules checkreins upon scatteredness and impulsiveness.
While thinking about it, it struck me how the quickly achieved "sugar high"
pleasures of life can displace the long journey to more durable bliss
ecstasies. For example, quickly bailing out of a relationship for an affair or
an apparently fairy tale romance requires little work, but the resulting
pleasures also fade quickly. There is also an analogue of a "sugar crash"
afterwards. Learning what it is to truly love a person for their sake even
after you have seen their worst (and they've seen you at your worst) is a
greater pleasure but requires a longer and more pain-filled journey. You would
never have known what you were missing if you had abandoned your journey to
the mountain top for the pleasures quickly attained at the base of the
Sai Baba likened it to going to a far away destination. For a while, he says,
you just have to concern yourself with the careful driving of the car.
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