Needs vs. Desires

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. -Luke 15:7

Dear members and friends,

Living as a human is both very fulfilling and frustrating at the same time. One the one hand, we claim that we are born with almost limitless potential for what kind life we could live, yet on the other hand we are faced with the reality that we are all born with clear and certain limitations, physically and emotionally. In addition, what makes our life more challenging comes from the difference between how we desire our life to be and how it actually is. Our desires often drive us to fantasize about living on a grandiose scale, while the reality where we actually live is often treated as less important or not significant. The core of the problem here is that our own mind convinces us to live in the unrealized future, while ignoring the present as something that is not worthy and thus should be improved. In short, this could be one reason that many people feel that their life is unfulfilling.  

According to Swedenborg, the story of Moses in Exodus could be about our inner battle between what we desire versus what we need. The challenge of understanding the difference between desire and need is the fact that we believe and accept that what we desire is the same as what we need! However, desire and need are not the same thing. After becoming a father of two children, the conflict between their needs and desires was evident. The subtle difference can be found in the actual necessity of what the child is asking for. However, like a child who is still unable to distinguish the difference between want and need, sadly many adults seem to have the same problem. 

According to Swedenborg, what we need is spiritual formation, but what we desire is health, wealth, and a materialistically happy life. And while desiring a good life on earth is not entirely a bad thing – it is what God wishes for us all – if that is all that we desire, then there is a big problem because we are but spirits for whom life on earth is only a temporary stay. Therefore, the purpose of life is to cultivate our spirits to the best of our ability as the spirit becomes a small form of heaven. Consequently, our task is to understand, analyze and overcome our desires while cultivating our inner self to be more capable of receiving what is from God.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee