Entitlement

There is a kind of disease that permeates western culture. With our up until recent  stretch of prosperity, the disease became almost unchecked. That disease is entitlement. A sense of deserving, simply because of who you are.

We see this in the unsustainable debt levels many people have taken on. In the expectation of ever greater profit at any expense. Marketing is full of this message. You deserve to have anything we want to sell you. We’re actually ruining the environment we need to support ourselves in this rush into meaningless consumption of products that themselves ruin our health. It is also deeply entrenched in new age and modern spiritual thinking such as Law of Attraction. If I wish it, I can have it. I deserve to be wealthy.

How do we deserve such prosperity when we leave a wake of destruction in our path? When we leave even our own unfortunate to fend for themselves on the uninhabitable streets? Such madness can only arise in the illusion of separateness.

While the basic principles are true, they have been co-opted by the ‘dark side’, by the mask of specialness. By a childish sense of “mine”. When we culture entitlement to the illusion, we are giving it strength, making it real. We are growing our shadow story about the world. This is not the path to awakening. It is being trapped in a childish pout.

Such ideas are the most dangerous on the path – the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Messages of happiness masking greed and envy. Messages of peace covering want and lack. The real question – who feels entitled? Who deserves all this crap at the expense of our children?

Some teachers teach abstinence to move away from such dangers. Others, like Jesus, taught humility. To a large extent, you can move past much of this simply by connecting to source. But there may be some need for a practice of mindfulness or presence to bring embedded ideas into awareness so they can be seen through. You may also find it beneficial to step a little out of the media barrage that cultures these needs, like TV.

It’s a funny thing. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. But we don’t deserve it because we are it. We have never left the Garden of Eden, except in our minds. When we can surrender to what is, let go of this sense of “mine”, then the story will fall away and the peace that passeth understanding will be revealed.

It’s a startlingly big change in outlook. But it is a surprisingly small change to make. The veil of illusion is very thin. Peace and happiness are yours, but not the little yours. Perhaps put better, peace and happiness are ours.
Davidya

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13 Responses to Entitlement

  1. Kaushik says:

    Hi Davidya,

    A fresh perspective on consumerism–thanks.

    It isn’t confined to the western world. Perhaps starting with colonialism, western culture now permeates the world. (There is no judgment here; western culture is not better or worse). In India, in the last fifteen years, the middle class has prospered. The good times never reached the desperately poor, and there were clear warnings that a fiat money supply created from debt cannot be sustained. For how long can five Chinese and one Indian serve a banquet to a North American for a pile of IOU’s? But it is addicting: more begets more; greed became a virtue in the 80’s; entitlement in 90’s; and it became spiritual with LOA and such this decade, and now perhaps it can start off the Age of Consciousness.

  2. Davidya says:

    Hi Kaushik
    Yes, I know one eastern teacher who came to the west to make his teachings popular in the east. (laughs)

    Nicely put. The economic challenges have revealed quite a few markets built on a bizarre house of cards. But I suppose it helped build many global economies which can now hopefully wean themselves of the ‘American Dream’. Some in the US are hoping to use the massive infrastructure spending to build green, local, and sustainable.

  3. Ariel Bravy says:

    Cool post, Davidya. Allow me to play devil’s advocate a bit here.

    If our true nature is infinite, why not allow ourselves to experience abundance rather than lack?

    LoA can definitely be used in a greedy way, but it need not be. If people can attract to themselves a way to experience an abundant and financially free lifestyle, in what way does this limit what the homeless or less well off can do? If anything, it can serve as a model for others to emulate so that they, too, can create a sustainable life. For those who have the calling to work with the less fortunate, learning about the LoA and implementing its tools can help them “walk the walk” and then show others how to do the same thing. If you give a man a fish…

    Is there really any purpose to life other than to experience life itself? We’re not going anywhere or trying to get anywhere. It is the journey, not the destination. So what’s wrong with creating a preferable experience if we have the capacity to do so? What’s wrong with bringing heaven to earth in physical manifestation for all?

  4. Davidya says:

    Hi Ariel
    To be clear, I was not speaking against LofA. Only that the sense of entitlement is often embedded in it. In posts such as the below, I speak of using intention, which is the essence of Law of Attraction. So I agree with your points.
    http://davidya.ca/2009/02/18/basic-skills/

    Our true nature has no qualities. We can only know it by expression. Expressing qualities of the quality-less. But all expresion is relative. We can only know it relative to something else. Just consider any form of measurement, for example. Speed, time, distance, all are measured in a relationship between 2 things. It is meaningless to measure oneness as there is no other to compare it to.

    In this way, we can only understand the qualities of light by it’s variability. Same with happiness or any other sort of experience. An easy marker for that is how one can get used to being happy all the time, then cease to consider it anything but normal. Or inversely sad all the time.

    The curious thing is, once you are deeply enough established in source, there is no such thing as suffering or lack. The contrasts are so overshadowed by peace, then bliss, then love…

    Your last paragraph is exactly right.

  5. Kaushik says:

    The Law of Attraction, and similar new age thinking is important in that it points out the mind’s tendency to judge negative and positive. It is important in the same way that fast food is important to good nutrition. This is a matter of putting the clichéd horse before the cart. Intentions and thoughts are certainly creative, but at the level of mind, it is difficult to hold an uncluttered intention. Desires and beliefs exist only in the context of their negatives. Some New Age methods suggest we replace negative beliefs with positive beliefs, or get rid of limiting beliefs, or that it’s “okay” to have desires as long as you are not attached to the outcome. What I suggest is that there is no need to rationalize, and you don’t need an external authority to tell you whether to have desires or how to have desires. What you directly experience in Awareness is your only truth. In Truth, there is no place for a law or for attraction or for heaven or for their opposites. I suggest that if we want to give the Law of Attraction or similar beliefs an honest try, let’s do it at ‘higher’ level of consciousness, where there is less clutter. I also suggest let’s look into the compulsion to be attracted to methods that easily manifest our cravings, and to release aspects around this tendency.

  6. Davidya says:

    Hmmm – I understand your point. But I don’t entirely agree. We function in an expression that is ‘conceived’ with a certain structure and thus certain laws or rules. We function within those parameters. One of the more poorly understood rules is around how we manifest via intention, popularly known as Law of Attraction.

    It’s quite true that its been largely misunderstood and bastardized by many but so have many profound truths. It’s also true that a noisy mind has difficultly having an uncluttered intention or performing sanyama. But the fact of the matter is, what we experience we (not I) have created so understanding the ways of intention and attention becomes important as the mind becomes clearer and more powerful. Otherwise, we can make a mess of it and wonder what the heck is going on.

    The critical point here is in thinking that apparent duality and expression is separate from source or ‘higher’ consciousness. Duality is only duality because of the way it is perceived, not because of what it actually is. It is none other than that ‘higher’ consciousness in apparent form. There is nothing else nor can there be.

    It’s also worth noting that another word for directed intention is desire. Our universe exists because it was desired. Desire is not duality, just it’s perception or it’s apparent effects.

    Desire and attachment is not just new age, it’s expounded in some detail by Krisna in the Bhagavad Gita thousands of years ago. Attachment to consequence is the source of much suffering.

    Curiously, beliefs are also necessary. Without a conceptual framework, there is no form. Belief is another word for structured intelligence. The world is intended into existence and held there with belief. The error is in believing in falsehoods or beliefs contrary to God’s (laughs).

    While depending on an external authority for truth is very limiting, it is a natural consequence of certain stages of the path, just as we depend on a mother for part of our life. At a certain point, it is outgrown. But it is still useful to hear of others experience and concepts as it can help illuminate our own journey. Some of this is very new for us, so it can be useful to get feedback from those with more experience.

    I’m sad to hear you think there is no place for heaven. You’re going to be rather surprised. (laughs) In duality, there is heaven and hell. In Unity, there is just heaven. 😉

    I agree with your closing sentence. Lets be mindful of what is driving us to react and respond. Then we can come to see the difference between desire and craving and can choose the better path. Sometimes. (laughs)

  7. Kaushik says:

    We largely agree. It’s worth pointing out obstacles. From what I have heard, the cultural property that is referred to as the LofA is not helpful in experiencing the truth about intention and attention. Of course, we can say this about many aspects of spirituality. Healthy skepticism, about anything until it is direct experience, has served me well. Signposts are good, and as you say they help prevent a mess in understanding, but I like the Buddha’s caution not to believe anything, even if he said it, until it agrees with experience.

    Yes, duality is a perspective in the Whole. The point about heaven/hell is simply to get away from the perspective dualistic opposites. Were not Unity heavenly, there wouldn’t have been much point to my own head-banging around this (the effort of seeking has thankfully been dropped).

    When we hear that cravings and aversions are a source of suffering(from Krsna as you pointed out or Buddha or ACIM and many other sources), there is visceral rebellion against this in the mind. I can do many things but what would I be with this desire? Then, there is a tendency to rationalize. I’ve found it more helpful to completely accept whatever aversions and attachments there already are, and to release emotional aspects around these. That’s easier, and sometimes cravings vanish sometimes they don’t. This isn’t well understood and what I see is either an energizing of attachment–this is where LofA can be a culprit–or a rationalization. Of course, this is my direct experience and solution; the pain of attachment is exactly what some people may need in their journey.

    Yes, beliefs are necessary. At a basic level, any word is a belief in a symbol and its meaning, and clearly concepts are needed, and clearly concepts can be obstacles. The ego loves to get its teeth into spiritual concepts.

    This points out that process of awakening isn’t easy and it isn’t difficult; it’s just very delicate. The same thing that is helpful at one stage can be an obstacle at another. Or the other way around.

  8. Davidya says:

    Some of the material is misleading and some depends on the eye of the beholder. I first saw the film The Secret in a group. I was impressed that they actually touched on a few key aspects, like letting go. Less superficial than I expected. But several in the group were incensed by the focus on wealth, something I saw as just one aspect they touched on – but a sore point for many.

    Yes, skepticism is good, as long as its not a form of resistance. Everything has its light and dark sides. And yes, acceptance even of the resistance is what allows it to release.

    Yes, Rationalization is a great sign the mind is trying to convince itself of something not real. Another form of avoidance.

    I love your closing. Very true. Delicate…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good discussion.

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