Poverty of the Soul
by Zachary Adama
My karma predisposes me towards asceticism. That may have been a virtue in a different culture and age, but in this world it has made me a slave. I grew up poor, in a poor community, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I have never prioritized pleasure or happiness, because I was taught those were luxuries we could not afford. That fidelity to joyless duty has followed me into the middle class, and along my spiritual journey.
Even after awakening to my true nature as an infinite being of love and bliss, I have remained in some ways impoverished. I have passively accepted things that serve neither my happiness nor that of others. I have retreated into inward bliss, as the inertia of a middle class life set in motion before my awakening consumes most of my time with things that serve a life I do not desire.
This world rewards those who doggedly pursue their desires to the exclusion of all else, no matter how misguided. I have seldom had strong desires beyond my desire for union with god. Before awakening I did not know yet what I sought. So I set about building a safe middle class life designed to alleviate the condition of material deprivation.
Then within months of starting that middle class life, I awakened to my true nature, and realized the worst poverty is that of the soul. I now wistfully reflect on the freedom of that materially impoverished child from the mountains. He wanted to seek god, but had no one to show him the way. I now know the way, but have less physical freedom than ever before. How long will I continue serving a middle class life designed to alleviate a poverty I no longer fear?