Needs vs Wants

I packed very-light for this trip, just what I 'needed' went in the bag… the basics, and some precautionary medications.

Heading out for a day-trip, I left most of my things in Mumbai. The day-trip turned into 4 days on the road, sleeping on floors and in cars.  Without my bag.

Traveling even lighter left room for new levels of gratitude. I found myself basking in the treasured cup of warm water I made each night.

Of course, if by design the next place had no power. Sigh, it's all perfect.

Through challenging our consumptive ways, we gain clearer perspective on our needs vs. wants.  Our needs are mostly simple. It's our unchecked wants that get us into trouble, setting ourselves up for Duhka, or suffering.  Was it needs or wants that crashed the economy? 

On the stiff mattress, I wished for the cozy bed at home. sleeping on the floor I desired the stiff mattress, and trying to sleep in the car made the marble floor a dream.  Back at civilization, if by magic, the impossibly-stiff matress is now luxurious. 

What changed?

If we could cling less to comfort – Raga, and resist discomfort less – Dvesha, we'd be more content.  One of the points made in Yoga Sutra II.3

How much do we really need to pad ourselves from reality?  These are the conditions we place on our happiness.    As Yogis, we choose to peel away the padding… we dare to un-spoil ourselves.

We seek a closer connection to the earth.  Sthira Suhkam Asanam.

Many here sleep in the streets.  Whole familes sleep soundly in a row, their heads literally 2 inches from the passing tires.  In the first few weeks here, seeing things like this would surprise me.

On return to Mumbai, My host family slept on the floor, insisting I sleep in their bed.  A very humbling experience, and I was sure to lighten my bag before moving on. 

We don't need to sleep in the street, but we can learn from those who do.  Before indulging, pause… do you need it, or want it?  How will it serve your intentions?  

Perhaps try a little less on for size.

Practice gratitude, and sleep well.  I'll be back soon.

Om Shanti, 


4 thoughts on “Needs vs Wants”

  1. John, thank you for these beautiful insights. Talk about big picture. I can only begin to imagine how this journey is transforming you. The clarity in your words is beaming. See you when you get back. -M

  2. I am speechless and wanted to send an empty box to express my gratitude to you for sharing your insights and experiences. When I tried to do that I got an error message that said,

    Error: please type a comment.

    Sleepless in Atlanta

  3. Amazing John, I’m feeling like I can see this wonderful adventure through you. I thank you for taking the time to share your journey. I intend to send this along to friends and students so that they will too see your wide open eyes and heart. Om Shanti, Heather

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