Ambition Versus Longing


The feedback from Monday’s, post, 10 Signs I’m Hooked By Old Beliefs, was very touching. Being hooked and/or triggered is something we can all relate to as humans. When we step onto a spiritual path such as yoga, often, our old beliefs and conditioning are used as tools for self-sabotage, doubt, and furthering a sense of separation and suffering. In her book, Tantra: The Play of Awakening, Shambhavi Sarasvati talks about spiritual ambition versus spiritual longing. Spiritual ambition is a striving, grasping, clinging, to a personal sadhana (self-study) that creates a certain self-image. “Spiritual longing, on the other hand, is the voice of God.” When we are ambitious, we compete against our neighbor, on our yoga mats, comparing ourselves with the person in front or behind. When we are ambitious we buy into the limited thoughts that keeps us associated with the small self. When we are ambitious, we feel a need to defend our titles, our labels, our very existence. When there is longing, every experience becomes a ritual, an opportunity to make connection, to see Grace. When there is longing, there is a fluid matching of breath between a continuous hum of bodies in class. When there is longing there is remembrance of who we are at our core, big Self. When there is longing, there is curiosity, beauty, and awe, witnessing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I had another epiphany while teaching yesterday. I realized that I am afraid I am not going to get “it” this lifetime. I realized that my underlying anxiety, this fear of failure, of not being good enough, is tied to my spiritual path. This belief can be traced back to my early childhood religious endeavors, trying to be perfect, hopeful that God would pick me, reward me with a seat in heaven and now towards my spiritual pursuits of enlightenment. I realized that I’ve been afraid of mistakes, of not being perfect, of having to come back. And yet… What would be so wrong with coming back? Do I not love this life of mine? The one with my husband, son, family, friends, students, you… Have I not learned so much about surrendering, compassion, acceptance, and beauty? Have I not touched the depths of grief from a heart cracked open from loss? Have I not touched the miracle of life through the kindness of one human being towards another heart cracked open from grace?

I realize this is the difference between ambition and longing. With ambition, there is a sense of hurrying, doing, forcing. With ambition, there is fear, doubt, blame, and judgment. With ambition,  there is separation, there is a you and a me. With longing, there is a sense of surrendering, being, opening. With longing, there is love, trust, and truth. With longing, there is immersion, we are one.

As you continue with your week, explore whether your motives are coming from ambition, a sense of striving or if they are coming from longing, a desire to connect to your highest Truth. Feel the difference between the two in your body. Observe the difference in thoughts and words, towards yourself and others around you. What did you uncover?




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