Thanks to Rumi’s famous expression about how increasing necessity enables the awakening of new organs of perception, many seekers get seriously bewildered at the idea of increasing their own personal necessity, when sometimes they are very hazy, about what this means.
Necessity is that which a person really needs, without satisfying which he either cannot go on living or his life will at least be highly flawed. A synonym for necessity is need, while requirement has a completely different meaning. A synonym for requirement would be more like dependency—on relationships, gratification and other such “foods” for the body, mind and senses. You cannot put an equals sign between requirement and necessity, because a necessity is something that is vitally important, while a requirement for something or other in most cases only seems vitally important.
Requirement is closely tied to desire, while need is tied to necessity, with that, without which, continued existence is all but impossible. And yet, people quite often end up prioritizing the fulfilment of their own desires, to the detriment of their most pressing needs, and then they are surprised when their life turns into a nightmare. So by accumulating money people deny themselves their greatest necessity, by destroying their own health. But these, as we say, are the obvious facts. Let us attempt to examine the concept of necessity as it applies to the mystic Path.
As I have already written, some people are born with the sense that they are strangers in this world. They experience such intense discomfort living in it that the necessity of finding something different, some other mode of existence, soon leads them to the quest. People of this kind make the truest seekers, but they will have had their share of hardships by the time they find the Path. Necessity with such seekers is as real as it comes, but even so it is not recognized as such straight away. At first, they feel that they can adapt to the world and end their suffering, so they live in hope, believing that they themselves are flawed, and this is the only reason they cannot live in the world. Almost every seeker of this kind goes through a stage like this, looking for ways of reforming themselves. Then they become convinced that it is possible to change themselves, only just as before, there is nothing about the world that they find particularly attractive—rather it seems a very strange and unhealthy place to them, and that which does seem attractive, time after time, brings suffering. And the more they are convinced of this, the clearer becomes the necessity to look for a means of escaping beyond the limits of this world. And this is not running away, but a quest for fulfilment, which cannot be understood by those who do not have and never have had a similar necessity. In forming the aims of his quest he becomes conscious of a necessity, for the clearer and more precisely formulated the aim, the more the necessity that can satisfy efforts to achieve it. Although this expression is not quite accurate—necessity does not satisfy efforts, but the person who knows their own necessity fully invests in those efforts as much as he can.
Thus, attempting to formulate the aims of the search leads to an awareness of one’s true necessities, and awareness of necessity helps one to clarify one’s aim and move towards it. This is the role of necessity in spiritual work. But there is another side to the story, and that is mystical work.
In mystical work, in interacting with the Ultimate, necessity sometimes becomes all but the most decisive factor. I would formulate this as a rule: upon the Path, God always responds to true necessity. Moreover, I am inclined to think that the same thing happens in normal life, too, however due to desires, vanity and their “dormant” state, people do not notice it unless help is revealed in a very obvious way. In mystical work, an emerging opportunity always corresponds to a present necessity.
And this is one factor we cannot ignore. For example, a prayer and the answer to it. The practice of praying is directed straight towards interacting with God—with His Presence—and being sincerely and resolutely fulfilled, always bears fruit. But again, corresponding to the present necessity of the person praying. And here the question always arises as to what the person is praying for. For what is really necessary to him, for what seems to him to be necessary, or for what he does not really need, but really wants? The answer to this question contains the mystery of why some prayers are heard and others are not. For those who have not engaged in the practice of self-awareness, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate the motives behind their own prayers in this way. And nevertheless, the possibility of receiving an answer to a prayer always also corresponds to the level of necessity in the person who makes it. And of course, the higher the necessity of the thing being prayed for, the greater the possibility for its being satisfied with an answer to the prayer.
Seekers often make the same mistake—they ask about the limit, ignoring their own necessity, which, if it is not satisfied at that moment, further progress is simply not possible. Of course, if your most pressing necessity is to gain knowledge of the Truth and to experience oneness with Him, then there are no issues at all. But, generally speaking, this happens very rarely in reality. The path to where the necessity of God becomes the most pressing necessity for a person comes in satisfying and letting go of many more minor necessities. It is not every seeker that can define their most pressing necessity at a given moment, and that is why they follow a dream—in other words, they follow their lofty desires. For some reason, many feel that to ask God for anything less than enlightenment is shameful.
It is for this reason that any mystical work requires a guide—someone who can see what the pupil’s most pressing necessity is right now, and what he should be focusing his attention on above all else. In both one-on-one and group work, the Master helps the seeker to put their efforts on the right track, to reveal their most pressing necessity and get to utilize the opportunities presented by its satisfaction. In group work, another feature of the “law of necessity” is revealed: if the most pressing necessity is different for everyone in the group, then no meaningful mystical work can happen, because the invisible wave that brings new opportunity, comes to all of them alone. Therefore, mystical work does not emerge in all groups by any means. Bringing the necessities of all the group’s members into some sort of harmony can sometimes take quite a long time.
And so, some are born with to some extent a higher necessity, which is later revealed within themselves, simply by obviating the aims and motivations that are bound to society. There are many such people, though they represent a tiny proportion of the total number of people living on the Earth. You could say they are summoned, but that does not mean that they are elected, and that they will definitely set out upon the Path. That does not happen to everyone by any means. Suffice it to say that some of them end their lives in suicide, while others get into drug and alcohol dependence. Nevertheless, people also come to the Path by different means—through desire, through exposure to the effects of the Light, propagated in the form of ideas, contained within the pupils of the spirit. Pupils are different, and the ideas that they propagate certainly do not always lead a person to the Upward Stream, but what we are interested in is those true, deeply perceived ideas that lead a person to seek the Path.
Ideas influence us at the level of the mind, clearly. If a person believes in an idea (and any pupil will first describe the situation with people in general, and then outlines their spiritual problem and suggests ways of solving it), then he will want to pursue it. This is how the desire comes about which starts pushing a person to put greater effort into his attempts to approach certain results, and to become someone befitting the demands of the teaching. At this point the person may become a follower, and may go further into the search, wanting to find out about other perspectives on the spiritual questions. He is then transformed into a seeker. Nevertheless, desire is desire. It lives according to its own rules—now intensifying, now fading out. It draws into the light one moment positive, another moment negative emotions and, over all, leads to suffering, exacerbating the sufferings that are already there. And the seeker’s first vital necessity is normally an escape from suffering. But that is too trivial and can sometimes be satisfied in the simplest ways. One cannot talk of the necessity of God at such moments—there is none.
And necessity is partially shielded by desires, but one desire always has to compete with other desires. Therefore if a seeker has not been able to develop a necessity for the Ultimate within himself, then his efforts will be inconsequential, and other desires will begin to periodically take up all the available energy as they are brought to life. Furthermore, in this situation there is no point talking of any mystical aid that matches the necessity of the seeker.
Because can you increase your own personal necessity? It may seem strange, but necessity is increased through the practice of awareness. That said, this is true of both situations, both where there is an innate affinity for the other, and where everything starts with desires, awareness becomes the key. In the first, acknowledging and accepting one’s nature helps to do away with the idea of one’s own “abnormality” and from that moment to begin seriously dealing with one’s necessity for something Higher. The second has a chance of helping to raise one’s own necessity, and the practice of awareness plays an all but central role in this.
To want to pursue an idea, one has to believe in it. By performing the recommended practices, one may gain an experience that will bring not blind faith but completely distinct knowledge. Knowledge either confirms or refutes the idea that everything started from, either strengthening the seeker or pushing him to continue his search in a different place. Personal experience is the best confirmation of the accuracy of a spiritual teaching, and as a result it serves as a basis for developing the necessity of God.
In practicing awareness, a person works with their desires, doing away with some of them altogether, and significantly weakening others. So a desire for spiritual transformation may become the main thing that seriously alters a person’s internal situation. At some point one’s vital necessity may be to resolve that desire, and in that case you might say of the seeker that lady luck has smiled on him. Then possibilities open up to the seeker for realizing their desires and it is important not to lose that moment. Also, working with one’s desires leads one to an understanding of their meaninglessness, and this changes a person’s attitude to the world. In losing the illusion, the seeker lets go of his worldly ties, and gradually comes to realize the necessity of something other, something not illusory, not transient, but absolute and eternal. So the person’s necessity grows beyond the bounds of this world.
Necessity makes the world go round. The Spiritual Path is not exclusive. When a pupil really needs a Master, he will come. This also works the other way around. Reality rests on interconnections, and necessity is capable of bringing many of them to actuality. And to those who have the necessity for God, He will open up in all his infinite greatness. Although, in order to receive this revelation, one must have the organs of perception of a higher level of development, compared to what people have in their ordinary state. But where there is necessity, possibility will also appear. The possibility of moving beyond the bounds of the ordinary, having touched the highest Truth and fully satisfied one’s own pressing and, in the spiritual sense, only necessity.