Now we come to the three subtle desires that stand behind nearly everything we work to achieve: Instant gratification, control, the next-thing. These three subtle desires also influence our expectations in the field of spiritual development and growth, and it is for this reason that I shine the spotlight on them.

The Desire for Instant Gratification

There is a phrase from William Gibson, “The future has already happened; it’s just not very well distributed.” This sentiment seems appropriate in a world where shortcuts are acclaimed by experts from every field of endeavor. Acceleration is the byword of the day, and the goal of this acceleration is to do everything faster, in less time; to be more productive; to be a better employee; to be a better student; to be a better everything, and to do it or acquire it faster and easier.

What’s missing from this approach is the destination or, said another way, “Where is the acceleration taking you,” to a fancier car, larger home, enlightenment, inexhaustible bank account, more prestigious position in life, better health, or simply a lifestyle of relative ease? Whatever the destination, the notion of instant gratification looms as the catalyst for its achievement. But what if the destination is emotional self-mastery? What are the signposts for acceleration in this case? What are the shortcuts and how do we know we are accelerating, decelerating or treading water and getting nowhere fast?

Instant gratification assumes one fundamental thing: to every human endeavor there is an elevator or staircase, and it is better to choose the elevator. Getting to your destination or achieving your goal quickly is more important than assessing which destination or goal is best. It is precisely this need for acceleration of goal achievement that often causes one to take a miscalculated detour from assessing what destination or goals are most vital to the fulfillment of their purpose.

Now you can ask yourself, if emotional self-mastery is a vital goal of your spiritual purpose, what is the best path to take in order to achieve this? My answer would be to live from your heart by expressing the six heart virtues with authenticity and artistry, but to consider the speed of your journey to mastery of no consequence or importance. Perhaps an odd caution, but the need for speed is a master unto itself, igniting the ego as few things do.