Feeding the Wolves of Desire.

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Juline Smit 2 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #1933


    I remembered a teaching from Dharmavidya whilst contemplating the complexities of the ‘Self Perfection Project’ recently. The classical spiritual analogy of ‘The Wolves of Desire’ presents an ultimatum of sorts. The wolves represent our primal instincts which have become distorted in the lifelong pursuit of pleasure, and tendency towards that which is bad for us. According to the proverb, if we nurture the beasts that arise in the form of gratification and indulgence we make them stronger and more hungry and we set ourselves up to be overcome with greed again in the future. So which wolf are we supposed to feed if we are to maintain a sense of serenity and to preserve our spiritual integrity? The official answer is, the one that is the most virtuous. We are expected to accept and nurture the good ones whilst all the others get beaten back! For me this is a minefield of guilt, shame, frustration and more of the repression that makes me sick.
    I once had a dog called Frank. We were very good friends. Frank had a very specific set of needs, if these needs were not met he could be very troublesome.  Because Frank couldn’t tell me what he needed he would get frustrated and eat everything, and I mean EVERYTHING! Copper pipes, plastic tubs, his own extra strength plastic bed base, watches and cushions were all on the menu if he felt neglected. Over time I worked out that if I walked him a lot, fed him enough and loved him as much as he wanted, he was much more manageable and pleasant to live with. Frank was an explicit reflection of my inner wolves. Even though I didn’t realise this at the time, the lesson remains for me to learn from and some fifteen years later it’s significance is very relevant!
    Dharmavidya taught me that, to acknowledge my needy wolves and feed them a moderate amount of what they want is to render them less ferocious and reduce the negative influences that they can have in my life. This can make for more freedom in the spiritual sense and more spacious encounters with otherness as I become more available for the world. This and Frank’s lesson from the past, showed me that I can’t afford to ignore or neglect any parts of myself and that any attempts to do so, any denial of my human nature, are tantamount to Spiritual Materialism, which could be considered one of the main stumbling blocks of the spiritual life.

    So now my job is to learn to give myself a break, which is not as easy as it sounds, by the way.
    Namo Amida Bu(  :

  • #1936

    So many wolves how do you know which ones to feed and are they ever satisfied. The problem is if you never feed them then maybe they get used to it and stay dormant. However to feed them simply gives them what they want and they/you then just crave for more.

  • #1941

    Thank you for the teaching, Adam, and the response, Andrew. I know I can’t afford to feed the wolf of my OCD- the more it gets, the more it wants- but maybe it isn’t a wolf. It’s more of a bully. I realise it has my best interests at heart but it’s going about things in such an over-the-top way that it’s efforts are counter productive. I think it’s actually at war with my inner wolves. It finds them scary and wants them gone- they are just so dangerous. So, maybe, if I give the wolves a bit of what they want and the OCD bully gets to see that world war doesn’t break out as a result, the bully will calm down a bit as well as the wolves.

  • #1943

    Part feed the OCD bully. Let me know if it works. They do ween people off things they are addicted to so guess it’s the same principle.

  • #1946

    I think we need to be careful when we’re treading around other people’s compulsions, fears & tangles. If we were to advise a sober alcoholic to ‘just start drinking a little alcohol’… The choices we make around our own unmanageabilities will vary from person to person and at different points in time.

    For myself, I try to listen to Amida. I also observe closely those who seem to have travelled the road a little further than I have. I ask for help from the Buddhas, and then keep my ears & eyes open, so the right books & advice suddenly appears. The advice often ironically comes from the mouths of people I thought had nothing to offer me. I must also say that I rarely find advice that I’m given without asking useful, and not that often advice that I do ask for! the good stuff often comes from somewhere unexpected, off-centre…

    An interesting discussion. Thank you all.

  • #1948

    I think I may have sowed the seeds of misunderstanding. In CBT exposure therapy I feed the wolves which OCD is scared of, not the OCD itself. I don’t see OCD as a wolf of desire, more as a bully which is so afraid of the wolves of desire that it forbids any contact with any such animals, eventually keeping you locked inside your own house in case you have even the slightest touch of a ‘dangerous’ feeling while away from safety.

  • #1949

    I do like that way of describing it Andrew.

  • #1950

    You seem to understand your  OCDAndrew which has to be a good thing. Working in mental health as you can imagine I come across many people who suffer from various types of mental distress.

    The thing they all have in common is thier first steps to recovery are insight/understanding and finding how to cope.

    They are all different and unique. Good luck.

  • #1981

    Juline Smit

    Hi Adam,  thank you for sharing.  We all have different and adapted sides to ourselves – some wonderful, others harder to love and make sense of.  What I hear between the lines is that through reflecting on your own condition you have come to realise it is helpful (but still difficult) to be kind to yourself.  I agree – same for me!  I have also learnt that judging myself or others (easily done and can be subtle) is a real obstacle to love, understanding and compassion. NAB.

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