Just as I experience acute Shania Twain land envy, Rod Stryker (Founder of ParaYoga in Aspen, Colorado) publishes an article – Spiritual vs. Material Fulfillment.
Shania Twain’s land covers the area between Queenstown and Lake Wanaka, an awe-inspiring, breathtaking, green 42,000 acre tract of mountains, full of native birdlife and streams rushing into waterfalls which we drove past on our way to hike up to the incredible Rob Roy Glacier on the South Island of New Zealand. (I think I might be drooling-let me just check.) If I lust, this is what I lust after. A woman made famous by catchy bad grammar (That don’t impress me much!) owns this glorious, peaceful place.
So I sit in the passenger seat of my friend Renee’s Jim Beam (If it ain’t Beam, It ain’t Bourbon) truck (She is a sales rep for JB and this, the Beam-er, is our official adventure sponsor, of sorts) and stare at Shania’s mountains. I get cranky. Why should Shania get mountains? I don’t even have a vacant lot near a mountain, or part of a lot. Or an apartment, any more. To top it all off, I usually use good grammar. Don’t I deserve mountains? I can properly spell the word mountains and use it correctly in a sentence.
While I am not proud of this inner dialogue, I think it is similar to the way we all think sometimes. The Oxford American Dictionary defines fulfillment as “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted,” and “satisfaction or happiness as a result of fulfilling or developing one’s abilities or character.” Rod Stryker points out that both of these definitions are achievement-oriented, implying that fulfillment lies outside of oneself, within what one can attain or accomplish.
My brain equates fulfillment with owning mountains. I was so glad to come across this quote by Mark Twain, so that I could make sense of this equation.
Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. —Mark Twain
My spirit does want contentment. Apparently I think if I owned a mountain (or many), I could rest, deeply and fully. Most likely I would do yoga on top of and walk across my mountains continuously, having reached Samadhi at last.
It’s funny. Ten days ago, at the end of yoga teacher training, I thought a bath and a good night’s sleep would be pure bliss. That’s all I wanted. I got so much more than that – a beautiful place to stay with good friends, gorgeous hikes all along the South Island of New Zealand, amazing food and wine, and lots of down time with a book (or Facebook). It’s been ten days of pure sunshine-y heaven, especially considering my hometown of Telluride has been about 5 degrees Fahrenheit lately.
The more comfortable I’ve gotten, the more I seem to want. My desires have taken about a week to escalate from walking along a mountain track to owning the whole countryside.
As a people, we are never satisfied. I guess if one were to take Mark Twain’s words to heart, we would re-phrase it. As a people, we are never peaceful.
Thankfully, as Rod Stryker points out, there is another type of fulfillment.
This other type of fulfillment is not dependent on attainment or on any thing. It is based on a recognition, a shift in perception. You could even say it is a revelation. The second kind of fulfillment is not dependent on circumstances being just right, nor is it derived from anything in the outside world. It comes from you. It is you.
“It is not inaccessible nor is it in distant places: it is what in oneself appears to be the experience of bliss, and is therefore realized in oneself.” – Yoga Vasistha
This kind of fulfillment is usually hidden, masked by the world of things — the world that most of us normally see and with which we engage. This other fulfillment is constantly and permanently available, provided you know how to access silence.
So, would I rather own Shania’s mountains or be able to sit still, fully content, without owning a tract of land or having a home? Thankfully, Rod goes on to point out that we often don’t have to make the choice. Material and Spiritual fulfillment can go hand in hand. But still, I know which I would choose. (If I had to….)
Want more wise words on peace and acquisition? Here.