Chasing the Bag

Empty Fire Pit
June 24, 2020

Shambhavi talks about objects of desire and our attachments to concepts about what will make us happy. How do we waste our lives attempting to create stable “ground” out of impermanent objects of desire? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Everybody right now, think of whoever you had a crush on in 6th grade.[students laugh] Or whatever. You know, sometime when you were young. You know, the person you thought you were going to be with forever. Imagine if that actually happened. [laughs] How utterly horrible that would be.

At every stage of our life, we might have objects and desire that we think are the thing that are going to make us happy. And, but the point is, as long as we have limited objects of desire, we are never going to have the kind of happiness that this kind of practice promises us.

Part of the process—it's not all about this—but part of the process is having to be deprived of those things so that we can examine our attachments to them more closely.

Right? When we're getting what we think is— we want and what we think is going to make us happy, we're not examining things too much. Right? [laughs] And there's a lot of projection going on.

But when we're deprived of those things, then it's like all of our fixations start clamoring. And as practitioners, we have a chance to sit with that and feel them in full force and understand how those are the energies that are behind our attachment to those objects of desire, and that we can never be happy as long as we're still operating that way in the world.

As long as I'm just moving from seeking one object of desire to seeking another one to seeking another one, with momentary feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. And then disappointments when they inevitably go away. And then get another one and another one and go away and disappointment, and another one... That is like living like a rat in a cage. Right?

There was an experiment done sometime back in, I don't know when. They wanted to find out, like, how addictive cocaine was. The scientists— they always have to do these silly experiments, like we don't all know already. So they, like... [laughs] You know? Here, take 20 million dollars of our tax money to do a silly thing that we already all know.

So they put these rats in cages and on one side of the cage is a little bar they can press to get cocaine. On the other side is to get food. And basically the rats would just take the cocaine until they died of starvation. And that's kind of the situation we're in when we don't allow nature to do anything to divest us of these objects of desire.

You know what's funny is they actually did another experiment, [SHAMBHAVI: Yeah] the same experiment. But they put the rats in a community of rats [SHAMBHAVI: Ooo] and they didn't do it.

Oh sweet.


That is so sweet.


Ooo. [laughs] Yeah. That is really cool.


In order to recognize, and we must recognize, the unbelievable degree of compulsion that is driving so many different aspects of our lives that seems perfectly normal to us because everyone else has got the same compulsions and same conceptual ground that we have. So it all is very normalized.

And before we can really become more free, we have to want to be more free based on this experience of being bound. We have to experience how bound we are in order to want to be free.

If we think everything's just fine and dandy— Yeah, I don't mind the fact that I'm just chasing the bag my whole life. 50 years, chasing the bag, no problem. That's normal. That's normal life. (That was an expression an ex-boyfriend of mine, use to... Chasing the bag. It was just meant, like, you know, anything you were chasing after). [laughs]

So we have to feel that even the things that make us feel good have us enslaved. Not those things themselves, but our relationship to them. There's nothing inherently fixated about any phenomenon of life. Everything is fine. Right? It's how we relate to it that we are trying to work with. Right?

So, you know, many times, students have doubts about whether they want to change so radically. They express in various ways. I don't know if I want to give up this or I don't know if I want to follow this, or... And I'm just like, fine. But seriously? You want to keep doing what you've been doing? You know? [laughs]

Seriously? That's a... I mean... Inside. Even I'm going, oh okay. [students laugh] It's like, I'm like, really?

Mmhm. Because it's made us so happy.

Yeah exactly. [laughs] Yeah. [laughs] You really want to, like, follow that stale argument. That stale thought.. Again? Okay. Everything is good. [students and Shambhavi laugh] Alright.

So I think a large part of my job and the only reason I really talk about myself, you know, in satsang and stuff like that, is because a part of my job is to just say, there is another way. You don't have to go here, but here it is. You know?

There actually is another way. And for me to try to embody that as much as possible, given my limitations.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.