Spiritual Reality About Needs and Wants: An Interview with Reverend Zoë Inman

She is a striking brunette with Hepburnesqe eyes who doesn’t mince words or worry about being nice. She is also a many-faceted spiritual teacher who combines her mad skills as a clairvoyant, clairaudient, and clairsentient, with a deep passion for awakening.

The Reverend Zoë Inman and I first met in 2009 when she was holed up in a San Francisco Victorian with her two cats, Jack and Pearl. She “read” my energy field and proceeded to untangle my misspent past in a way that left me in awe. Ever since, I’ve been a big fan of her revolutionary approach to navigating the human experience. I’ve been a client, colleague, friend, and scribe, eventually helping to draft her book, Let God Love You Up (Maria Press, 2015). Her perspective on money, needs, and wants gets right to the heart of the matter.


P: From a spiritual perspective, what is the difference between a need and a want?

Z: A need is passive. “I need you to do this. I need this.” On the other hand, wants are active. If you aren’t clear about what you want, you don’t actually know what you need to do. In theatrical terms, needs are offstage and wants are center stage in the light. Although stating your needs is accepted and even encouraged in some schools of non-violent communication, projecting your needs onto the world is actually very passive-aggressive.


P: Are needs always self-focused? In other words, it’s never about what “I need you to do.”

Z: Precisely. Because as soon as I need you to do something, I become a passive aggressive ahole. We’ve a lot of programming around stating our needs, but from where I stand, it’s very sophomoric, narcissistic, and self-centered. Unfortunately, those characteristics are also very supported in our culture. We’ve come to believe that stating our needs to others is a form of transparency. That creates confusion and resentment. People are waking up around this issue. Consciously or unconsciously, they are starting to see how burdening others with your needs effects relationships with mates, family, friends, and money.

Simply put: to become a thriving, spiritually mature person, you must take care of your own needs. That requires that you take personal responsibility for your life. In my experience, people claim they do, but many don’t even understand the concept. The word responsibility—responding to your own ability—is misunderstood. People avoid personal responsibility, yet it is the key out of a hellish existence, including issues with money.


P: How are “wants” different?

Z: Wants have a dignity and a power. They are on the center of the stage. You can sense it. “I want to go to interior decorating school.” You see the vulnerability in that? You can feel the center of the stage. Versus the shadow side offstage, “I need you to help me figure out how I’m going to go to interior decorating school.”


P: Do you think most people know what they want?

Z: They are afraid to admit what they want, because they are caught up in the stories and rules given to them by their families. Most people struggle. They try to want the “family list,” but they haven’t taken the time to bring these ideas into their hearts to see if they are true or not. The heart will always tell the truth. The mind, where the ego resides, is a notorious liar. When a person actually implements the practice of bringing their wants into their heart, the ante goes up. For example, let’s say you married with the notion that you wanted to have children. But then one day, you take that want into your heart and realize it isn’t true for you. See where this goes? It gets real very quickly.


P: So, it’s not that people don’t know what they want. It’s that they are afraid to admit what it is they actually want because the repercussions or consequences may be too high.

Z: Perceived consequences. And that is what rules the world. People are walking around half dead forcing themselves to live lives that they don’t really want to live. This pattern of behavior is a killjoy. It takes a lot of energy to sustain that type of life. It’s a drain on your bank, on your personal prana.


P: Let’s say you’re successful and you have plenty of money. Can you still suffer the collateral damage you mention above?

Z: Yes. It raises the question: how are we defining success? Wealth? The first real relationship we have after our parents is with money. There is a direct correlation. If you want to see where you are in terms of healing with your family, look at your relationship with money. This isn’t a popular perspective. People want things to be black and white, linear. Life doesn’t work that way. When we don’t want to see the truth, the ego takes over and starts to battle. “What do you mean…I’ve been in therapy for 20 years. I’m okay with my mom.” When a client responds in this way, I say let’s talk about your debt. This also freaks people out: discussing how mom and dad were with money. Then I have to ask, are you willing to be humble? Are you willing to admit you are doing the same things your parents did? The things you proclaimed you would never do?


P: When I work with a client, I review their money biography first. We have to uncover as many of the conscious and unconscious signals they learned from their family of origin as possible. In some cases, clients will say, “my parents never talked about it. How could I be influenced by what they thought?”

Z: Which says volumes more than if they ever had a conversation with you. More is communicated in silence than through the spoken word. “Yes, Bob, they didn’t talk to you about it which means they were talking to you about it.” People want to avoid the center of the stage until they arrive at that point in their growth where they wouldn’t give up the center of the stage for all the tea in China. Because center stage is the power place. Because taking responsibility causes people to reflect at a deeper level, beyond the mind’s capacity. Yeah, mom and dad didn’t talk to me about money. But how did they communicate in that silence? What did I notice? What do I remember? What material items where in the space? What were the conversations I eavesdropped on? What was it like when we went out to dinner? I remember mom getting mad because dad didn’t leave a tip.  It nudges them into a deeper level of accountability and reflection.


P: It’s mining the subconscious.

Z: That’s why you need to get out of the mind and into your heart intelligence. The mind is where all the blocks reside. In general, people stop at the beginning. They think, “We used to go out every Friday night and my parents had this little argument.” They don’t investigate further. They don’t see the correlation between this experience and their own personal beliefs. A belief could be something as simple as, “tipping is bad because I want dad to like me.” Eventually, if a person is committed to self-understanding, they start to connect the dots, “Yeah, dad was uptight around money. I’m uptight around money. I’m stingy. I wonder if that affects how I make money.”


P: Where does desire fit in? Is it bad that I want money? We’ve come to believe that the more a person evolves, the more unattached to money and material possessions they’re supposed to be.

Z: There’s a lot of misunderstanding around desire. Desire isn’t bad. Without desire, you can’t learn about attachment. To proclaim you don’t have any desires because you believe, or have been incorrectly taught, that desire is bad, while your heart is speaking, “I want to be rich,” is disingenuous and it’s lying. Just tell the truth. “I’m a practicing Buddhist and I want to be rich.” It’s not the content. We’ve come to think one way of being is better than another…a this or that scenario. That’s where people get confused. It’s the willingness to be honest. You can’t fake it. You actually have to be who you are.

There’s a story about an older swami. He was in the dusk of his life, and unhealthy. He told the other monks, “I have a desire. I want to fly a kite.” Here’s this man, on the threshold of enlightenment, and he knows he has to take care of a desire, so he goes and flies a kite. The next week, he dies. There’s great wisdom in this. He didn’t doubt his desire, or discount it as stupid because of his spiritual training. He just took care of it.


P: So how we hold desire makes a difference.

Z: Exactly. Try this: open your hand flat, palm up. Extend your fingers are much as you can. This is an extreme. Most people believe the energy of this is nonattachment. But it isn’t. It’s flat, harsh, resistant. This is the sophomoric understanding of attachment.


P: And the closed fist?

Z: With the closed fist, nothing can come in. But, with the gently opened hand, cupped, energy can come and energy can go. If you are a practicing Buddhist, and you want money, you state, “I would like money.” You let yourself have the desire. Often that quenches the desire altogether. Sometimes admitting what you desire is satiating.


P: As opposed to a rigid, splayed hand. I have to have that or else. Meaning you are so rigidly attached to something there can be no movement.

Z: No grace. Don’t you just love the soft hand?


P: Is desire the same as a “want”?

Z: Energetically, wants occupy more of the center stage. A want is more definitive. Usually, genuine desire is coming out of a part of your soul that needs a particular experience to evolve. That’s why the swami said, “I have a desire to fly a kite.” He didn’t analyze it. He got the kite. If it wasn’t a genuine desire, there would have been complications.


P: What if you genuinely desire something, but it doesn’t materialize?

Z: You have the desire. You say you want whatever it is. You address your needs. And after three years, it’s not happening. There are a few things that could be going on there. 1) You are not being honest. That’s obvious. 2) Your priorities aren’t correct. In other words, you are not addressing your needs in the proper order. And 3), and this is a hard one, God knows better. That’s radical humility.


P: What about the New Age approach of “just think it and it will come. You deserve it!”

Z: How do we know what we deserve? Only God knows what we deserve. Let’s say, three years have gone by and you’ve addressed your needs, done your due diligence, and your dream, whatever it is, hasn’t materialized. Have the humility to let go. Understand that your desire isn’t in your best interest.


P: You’ve mentioned a connection among desire, desperation, and disappointment. Can you elaborate on that?

Z: Most people don’t desire with an open, soft palm. They desire with a closed, tight fist. They cling to their desires, dry hump them. And that clinging leads to disappointment, which eventually leads to desperation and more clinging. It’s a loop that dredges up a lack of trust, a lack of honestly, fear…all that shit. It’s the quality of desire, the manner in which you put it out there, that makes a difference.


P: Have your desire then surrender it?

Z: Go about your day. If you’ve just planted a flower, and you go out every five minutes to see if it is growing, it’s going to freak out and wither. Stop examining your desire. You’ll make it nervous!


P: How do you create an abundant life? And by abundant, I’m not just talking about money.

Z: When people struggle with creating the life they want, I ask them to look at where they are being stingy with their time, their talents, with their love. This is the bigger context. Money is a necessity, but where are you stingy? They are very related. Also, it’s important to understand what abundance means to you. Some definitions of abundance are very simple.

People are often operating on their parents’ definitions of abundance. They are afraid of the truth. Maybe you don’t want a 5,000 square foot house, but you say you do to please the parents. Maybe, you actually want to live in an Airstream. Being honest with oneself sounds so simple, and it is, but people complicate it because they don’t want to accept responsibility. If you are honest with yourself, it is easier to live your life. It’s just that direct.

To learn more about Reverend Iman, go to www.reverendzoeinman.com. To purchase a downloadable copy of Let God Love You Up, go to: www.amazon.com/Let-God-Love-You-Up-ebook/dp/B013M3DSQO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515964187&sr=8-1&keywords=reverend+zoe+inman


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