NTI Matthew 16:25: Lay down your little life and your desire for it, that you may know the Life that is. And, 26: This is where you must look at your thoughts and desires. For if you desire anything of the world, you have lost your desire for Me.
I’ve been looking at this passage from Matthew for a couple of weeks now. When I first read that if I desire anything of the world I have lost my desire for the Holy Spirit, I was taken aback. Surely there are things in the world that I need. Am I supposed to give up everything? I saw a parade of things that I value pass before my eyes and I felt an acute sense of loss as I considered giving them up. I asked the Holy Spirit about this and was reminded that I am never asked to sacrifice. It is the need for these things that I am asked to relinquish. Where there is no need, there is only joy in the experience. Thank you, Holy Spirit.
I am reminded of Laurent’s story of his flight from Paris. He did not get the seat he wanted which would provide extra leg room. He felt uncomfortable and cramped and was mentally complaining when he received the thought, “Is leg room what you want?” This helped him to remember what it is that he really wants. He said, “No. I don’t want leg room. I want to awaken.”
My first thought on hearing this story was to wonder if he had to give up leg room in order to awaken. This is the ego response as it always responds from lack, fear, and guilt. So I went past that first thought and asked the Holy Spirit what this really means. He showed me how giving up the idea that happiness depends on changing the world around him Laurent was choosing God, and in choosing God he was choosing peace. And in fact, Laurent did say that he spent the rest of the flight in Love and peace.
The realization I took from this story is that having leg room or not having leg room is not what made Laurent happy. While he was focused on his story of discomfort and the ego’s solution Laurent was lost to God. The more I thought about this the more clarity I received about why this is true. While Laurent was desiring his preferred seat he was in competition with his brother for that seat. I saw how this one thought, this one desire, catapulted him into the separation story and all its inevitable effects; anger, fear, guilt, loss, envy, and competition.
I also see very clearly how setting aside his desire in the world and remembering his only true desire restored him to sanity and to peace. This story of Laurent’s had a profound effect on me. I have since used his process for myself many times. When I find that I desire something in the world I ask myself if that is what I really desire. This is often enough to remind me that I want only to awaken.
In this passage in Matthew the Holy Spirit reminds me that in my search for worldly desires I will find them and this is good. I appreciate hearing this because I still feel the pull of ego guilt, and if I succumb to guilt I will not be motivated to be honest in my search. The Holy Spirit reassures me that “You will find that you do desire the world, for it is your desire that brought you here.” He also reminds me that I want to find them because it is in noticing these desire that I am given the opportunity to change my mind.