Q You often talk about knowing what your needs are. How do you know your needs? I find it hard to see what my needs are versus what are just thoughts.

It is a big area but the bottom line is, 'Are you willing to be honest with yourself?' Only then can you know the difference between delusion and reality. It was a gradual realisation in me that I was trying to get things in order to satisfy a need in me. Initially I used very indirect ways of getting my needs met and the real need was buried beneath that. Over time I began to realise that even though I was an enlightened man and was supposed to have no needs and was supposed to have transcended my personal reality, the truth was that I still have human needs. The most fundamental need is to be loved and to have nourishing relationships. I don't want to assume anything about you but my bet would be that it is a very real need in you too. I accept it when a real need in me is causing me to act in a certain way and I accept that it is ok for the need to be there. I know I won't die without nourishing relationships and that I can get on with life without love, but I also know that another quality enters my life when I have that nourishment. If you can accept that you have some basic needs, then you can look and see how you have been indirectly trying to get your needs met. The sort of thoughts you are talking about arise from the indirect ways you have been trying to get your needs met. You can move away from using indirect means of getting your needs met by being simple, honest and direct, by saying, 'This is what I need right now.'

Q In the spiritual world there's a lot of talk about there being no needs. We are supposed to feel ok about ourselves and ok about being alone and there is a feeling that it's not ok to need other people to make us feel good.

I say it is ok. With enlightenment it can appear as if needs disappear and nothing matters, but that is not living as a whole being. This spiritual ideal of there being 'no needs' means our needs get even more buried and we continue finding indirect ways of getting them met while pretending they don't exist. However it is really difficult to sort out what it is that we really want. For me it is just a question of seeing that I am a man and it's ok to have needs and that my particular need might be something quite quirky. If you are able to accept yourself as everything that you are, then you can see that actually I do have this preference or that need and it's ok.

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