Ace of Coins / Pentacles — Spiritual Message of the Day
“Without food … all other components of social justice are meaningless.” — Norman Borlaug
I have entered into many conversations about the spiritual message that what’s important in life is our search for reunion with the Divine. In such discussions, it is common to encounter a question (often expressed in a rather defiant tone) like this: “So, do you think we should just tell children starving in Third World countries that they shouldn’t worry about food; their spirituality is all that matters?” Although it sounds a bit snarky, this is a valid question to consider, and certainly a discussion about our primary physical needs is relevant to the Ace of Pentacles.
Certainly, we are profoundly motivated by our basic needs, although a satisfied need ceases to compel us. (If you want proof of this, compare your enjoyment of a good movie when your bladder is full to when it is not.) It’s also true that the more basic the unsatisfied need, the stronger and more persistent the motivation.
When primary human needs are not being met, they dominate a person’s life and drown out other concerns and desires, including motivation for spiritual enlightenment. Thus it’s important to work to relieve suffering in the world instead of just telling people that their hunger (for example) is an illusion and they can achieve bliss if they would just focus on seeking reunion with the Divine. That may be true, but it’s a doomed (and callous) argument.
All this is not to say, however, that people who are poor cannot (or will not) follow a spiritual path. Indeed, if their basic needs are met, they may be better at following spiritual pursuits than those who are rich, since often the wealthy have become addicted to their materialism. But in answer to questions about hungry children, yes, of course we must first address their basic needs, since living in a human incarnation means that those needs are the prime motivator as long as they are unmet.
Postscript: There is a difference between a need and a want. Adequate nutrition is a need, but lobster thermidor and filet mignon are wants.