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Instinctual Drives

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.

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.

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