Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Instinctual Drives
Experiencing the Animal Potential of the Soul
We share with the animal kingdom a focus on the physical world; we are oriented toward and preoccupied with physical and other external phenomena. Partly as a result of this focus, we also share with animals the instinctual drives toward and passions for survival, food, sex, procreation, company, pleasure, power, dominance, possessiveness, territory, security, safety, comfort, entertainment, and so on. We are primarily driven by our survival, sexual, and social instincts. And these instincts operate in us the same way they operate in the animal kingdom, with drivenness, compulsion, and irrational passion for their gratification. When we experience the animal potential of the soul, what we call the animal soul, we are then full of desires, cravings, uncontrollable impulses, lust, and passion for what the world offers. We want with passion, crave with hunger, and desire with instinctual abandon. We desire instant gratification, but our appetite for such gratification has no bottom and no end. We want and want and want. We want to eat, copulate, possess, dominate, even nourish and nurse ad nauseam. Even when we believe we are being human because we want contact and sharing, our attitude about such fine qualities is animalistic, and worse. We are greedy for contact, and our need for sharing is bottomless. And whoever stands in our way had better beware.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 142
Harmonizing the Instinctual Drives with the Enlightenment Drive
The particular maturation of the soul that fosters true practice involves the awakening of a fourth drive, the enlightenment drive. Although similar to the instinctual drives, with similar energies and intelligence, the enlightenment drive is not completely biological. Its aim is not a physical one; rather, it is about the quality of inner experience. We may recognize the enlightenment drive as the religious drive, the longing for God or divine union, the desire for enlightenment or truth, or the love of discovering the secrets of existence, what life is all about. As we recognize the truth of this drive, we learn to work on the instinctual drives and harmonize them into the enlightenment drive. True nature, our inherent beingness, has its own dynamic force. As the soul matures, this dynamic force appears as the drive within us to go toward greater actualization of that nature, to bring that nature forward and display it in full consciousness, in full awareness. True nature has inherent in it the drive to reveal itself in our experience. We call this dynamic force the enlightenment drive—the drive toward enlightenment, toward freedom, toward liberation, toward awakening, toward reality, toward truth, toward the genuineness and authenticity that is the truth of Being.
Runaway Realization, pg. 27
Instincts Can Become Powerful Forces Against Our Love of Truth
What’s important to see is that ultimately, all animal instincts amount to the basic drive for physical survival. And all our powerful needs and instinctual drives can become a force that completely eclipses the love of truth. This is true whether the survival instinct manifests as the need for security, support, safety, affection, social contact, comfort, or money. In reality, all social and sexual instincts are linked to survival. For example, you may just want somebody around or someone to talk to on the phone, and it doesn’t matter whether truth is involved. Just talking is what’s needed. What’s really happening is that you can’t be alone; you are operating unconsciously from the assumption that social contact is a survival need, and that takes precedence over the love of the truth. We need to deal with this level of our soul if we are to liberate our heart, for our heart can truly love only when it is free. The heart exists at the level of the human soul rather than at the level of the animal soul. And unless the instinctual drives in the animal soul are confronted, they will confine—and ultimately control—the human soul and heart.