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The Hydra or the Hero?

Greek Myth of Hercules and His 12 Labors

Heracles Battles the Hydra

I longed for a leaf-blower; obsessed over certain foods; dreamed of the ideal man. I believed I would not be happy until my desires were fulfilled. And, indeed, I lived in a purgatorial state of longing, wishing, hoping until I got my way. This purgatory was sometimes more like Hell as I suffered until that desire got met. I’m not the only one who suffered. Oh no. Everyone around me had to listen to my whining. They could see my brooding face as I sulked. Just waiting for my desire to be fulfilled was excruciating at times and those around me knew it!

The day would come when I had the money/time/opportunity to meet the goal! My dream came true and I’d be wrapped in a sheath of delightful bliss and contentment— for a little while.  Sometimes the little while was just a quick moment before the next desire or desires arose. Or worse yet, I’d be obsessing over the next desire while being in the middle of the current one. They overlapped, they made me fat, they made me angry, tired, broke, crazy!

Desires  are like the Lernaean Hydra, a many-head serpent-like monster in Greek mythology. As soon as one head is cut off, two more grow to replace it. With help from Iolaus, Hercules slew it by severing each head  and searing the neck with a firebrand. The final head, which was immortal, was placed under a rock.

Desires, like the heads, multiply as each is cut off unless we stop the path of re-growth. Simply fulfilling the desire only serves to make more of them. I found I had to detach from them. Detach by the reasoning that my happiness shouldn’t be dependent on “things” or “people”. I began to practice ways of detachment.

Once, when shopping in a department store, the desirables were everywhere. They stick them in the aisle right in your face! I found myself picking up the all the things I wanted, putting them in the cart and walking around the store. When I got tired of this, I put them back and left without spending a dime.

In this way I played with the desire: I chose, owned and enjoyed the items in my cart, then let them go. It was a freeing experience (and a frugal one). I came to realize that there could be a space between the end of one desire and the beginning of the next desire. In this space was a respite from the madness– peace and contentment reigned. I learned to lengthen the space by falling still– pausing. I could get in touch with my senses to access the present moment. It brought me out of the mindless desire to a state of reason where I could detach from the desire. The space between desires was further lengthened when, a few years later I was initiated into meditation.

It’s always simple, but not always easy. You can be the hydra or the hero.

1 comment

1 maybeyesmaybeno { 04.14.14 at 10:31 pm }

lovely n nice to know we’re now not
either or
having passed the need to use polarity to search for oneness
we’re all connected via the web which is always how the Divine speaks to us if we have ears or eyes or love …in spite of the surface swirl -well done – nice site thanks

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