In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the dangers and consequences of attachment, greed and desire.
First a quick update:
“Tiger Woods – the apology & The Fame Factor”
So the experts got it all wrong as they claimed Tiger is a sex addict but he admitted to what I said from the outset, being a victim of The Fame Factor and losing his faith and core values. Read the expanded transcript of the interview I gave to Russ Morley of 850 WFTL about Tiger Woods, his apology, the male ego and The Fame Factor.
Now, let’s talk about craving – attachment, greed and desire.
During the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, k.d. Lang was featured with version of the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah. K.d. Lang is also famous for winning a Grammy in 1993 for her biggest hit song, “Constant Craving”:
Even through the darkest phase
Be it thick or thin
Always someone marches brave
Here beneath my skin
Has always been
One can interpret this song to mean that we all have a constant craving and that this constant craving has always been around.
Another person that threw “craving” into the spotlight is Tiger Woods. Of course, many people are still talking about and dissecting Tiger Woods’ apology. This success newsletter is not about the apology, but it is about a powerful lesson and revelation from that apology, when Tiger Woods referred to the consequences of his craving and the link to his faith, Buddhism.
There are two key things that Tiger Woods said. First:
“I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.”
“People probably don’t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.”
Both paragraphs refer to the dangers of craving. Tiger Woods is saying something that I have taught and I believe that every religion and philosophy teaches – happiness does not exist outside of you – you will never find it in “stuff” – material possessions or anything else that is tangible. Yes, all the stuff and things can add to happiness but it doesn’t guarantee happiness and the pursuit of these things – the constant craving can be dangerous. That is not to say that the pursuit or desire is dangerous but the degree of desire is dangerous.
Buddhism teaches that human suffering is caused by the mind- by our thoughts. Many religions and philosophies teach this same principle. Buddhism believes that our suffering in the human experience is the result of the way our mind is constantly noisy, constantly craving; and that our pain comes from attachment, greed and desire.
In other words, when we become attached to someone or something, a person or an object we lose our power, we become victims. Attachment refers to the feeling of being bound to something or someone i.e. our happiness is bound to something outside of us. Attachment also refers to our identity. Some people believe that they are their house, car or job. Attachment also refers to an outcome. When we decide that we will only be happy when something occurs or turns out the way we want, then we become helpless victims, and our happiness is now controlled by something outside of ourselves. Of course, it is disappointing if we do not get the job promotion or achieve a goal or even get the girl we wanted, but when we let that disappointment dwell in us for a long time, then we are saying that that thing is controlling us and that we cannot he happy unless we have that thing, in the way we want and when we want. Our emotional happiness and inner peace have now become attached to something outside of us, of which, most likely, we have no real control.
The second point is greed.
Greed might be an obvious pitfall and danger, and yet how many of us have fallen into that pit? Are we not reaping the results as a society for much of our greed or the greed of others?
Interestingly, greed according the dictionary refers to “An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.” I explain this as “when is enough, enough?” Again there is nothing wrong with material possessions, except for when the desire and craving for them overtakes us, when it controls us. We then find ourselves in the spiral: we achieve, we attain and we want more, more, more. It’s similar to the person that eats and just keeps eating as if his brain has failed to say, “I am full.”
That leads to third point – desire.
The dictionary defines desire as “a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment.” Is there anything wrong with desire? Only when it controls us, when we become its slave and it becomes our master. Tiger Woods in his apology above refers to the “impulses.” It is very easy to lose control and self-restraint, and thus give into desire.
That is the point that the Dalai Lama made when he was asked to comment about Tiger Woods: restraint and self-discipline. The Dalai Lama had never heard of Tiger Woods, but when told of the Tiger Woods story, the Dalai Lama replied that “all religions have the same idea” about adultery. “Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that’s important,” he said. “Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.”
The dictionary refers to self-discipline as “Training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.”
Every day, we are faced with a temptation of one sort or another, and it is only “Self-discipline with awareness of consequences” that gives us the power to stand strong and say “No.” Of course, in today’s narcissistic world, we have given too much focus, energy and significance to feeling good, to instant gratification, instead of focusing on long-term rewards and consequences. We can only attain self-discipline through daily practice. For Tiger Woods, he said that he strayed from his faith, he stopped practicing daily, and thus, he easily gave into the cravings and became what I call a victim of The Fame Factor: narcissism, denial, delusions of grandeur, entitlement and of course, power.
I also humbly believe that it takes a real man to admit this and to do so with sincerity; to accept self-responsibility and to decide to take action to correct what has happened. Remember, Tiger Woods could simply have tried the cop-out that others have used and are using more frequently today, with something along the lines of “I am a sex addict; there is something wrong with my brain” but instead he spoke of the truth, his truth, his failings, his desertion of his beliefs and his surrender to The Fame Factor.
In closing, some philosophies teach complete denial of all cravings, but I believe in balance. We need desire to drive us, to motivate us to action. A baby is born with desire for food, love and security. We can use desire to help us to strive to better ourselves and the world. Mother Teresa had a desire, a constant craving to help others, to ease the pain and suffering of others.
I sincerely believe that the state of Nirvana is attained not with a complete “cessation and extinction of craving and ignorance” but with a sense of control over our cravings – our attachments, greed and desires.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.