Imagine a trivial incident: Your mate asks you to help clean up the house when you are watching TV or reading a book you don’t want to break away from. How do you frame this situation?
Ego frames it as “You want me to do something I prefer not to do. I’ll decide whether to give in or not.” Spirit frames it as “I see that you need me.” Notice that the outcome is not what is at stake. Whether or not the ego gives in, it is still framing the incident as a conflict. Its main concern is to keep power on its side, therefore it must win the conflict. Winning means either saying no and getting away with it or saying yes and feeling magnanimous. The aim of both outcomes is to avoid defeat.
Spirit has no such ulterior motives. It acknowledges the other person’s need, but it neither takes responsibility for that need nor opposes it. In this way the other person is seen as real, because whenever you need something, your need is your reality.
The only true need anyone has is to be seen as real.
A lot of the time we are lost in unreal needs. Your mate could be asking you to clean house for dozens of reasons. She may be angry or feel upset that household work is all left to her. She may feel demeaned, ignored, overwhelmed, anxious, compulsive, controlling – or she may just need help cleaning the house.
The absence of ulterior motives is what marks spirit. The neediness of an insecure ego doesn’t get disguised by other tactics. When you are in spirit you don’t feel the urge to manipulate, cajole, seduce, demand, beg, or insist. You simply allow, and in that you make an open space for love to flow.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).