Material desire and attachment is related to our drive and resource seeking system. This desire for material possession is about striving, getting, having, achieving, and owning.

The Human Drive for Survival and Affiliation

Just like our threat system, our seeking mechanism is tied to the sympathetic nervous system. And it is the threatened thoughts, emotions, and intentions related to this system, that triggers our Fight or Flight reactions.

Our modern day societies, educational systems, and competitive businesses are overly focussed on elevating the excitement and drive based emotions associated with pride in accomplishment, owning, and controlling. We are told that if we do not have more than enough, then we are no good, and if we do, then we shall be happy and loved.'

Indeed, some people can only feel good if they are achieving or satisfying certain drives. Spend some time watching television advertisements over the next few days and notice how many of them appeal to excitement states: excited, smiling people getting hyped up for all kinds of reasons related to the goods and services on offer.1

In the quest to display the things our Ego has feverishly brought into existence, we create a studio for our collection within walls of thought and concrete. In this way, securing all our conquests by fortifying, labeling, and separating them from one another, we go on dividing nation and nation, knowledge and knowledge, and man and nature. Instead of recognizing and honoring the common interconnectedness, we seperate ourselves from all else.2

Anything beyond the barriers we have built, raises a strong suspicion and fear in us. This hinders our evolvement because now, everything that does not inflate and enhance the ego, has to fight hard for its entrance into our recognition. Without acceptance and intergration of new knowledge encapsulating the Spirit, and metaphysics, we will not be able to move from suffering towards love and compassion.

The Old Ways

The drive and resource seeking system evolved to motivate us to find food, shelter, and partners, things that are necessary for our survival. As a result, whenever we see or hear of something that will be helpful to us or make us happier, we pursue it with great zeal and vigor. And every time we achieve what we have been pursuing, a shot of dopamine is released in our brain, which gives us a nice buzz.3 This produces feelings of excitement and exhilaration. This is known as positive reinforcement.

This ‘buzz’ associated with achieving and owning is like an addiction-partly because we are constantly trying to get and maintain this high by over stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.4 The feeling of an ‘adrenalin rush’ is a product of the drive and affiliation system. It may feel good at first, but is always followed by a feeling of fatigue, as this system uses up energy and depletes the body.

As a result this constant pursuit for material possessions, status, and sexual relationships can become problematic and lead to envy, jealousy, loneliness, feelings of emptiness, inferiority, and inadequacy. This state of mind leaves us ill equipped to cultivate mindfulness and compassion, which is crucial in working with an anguished heart and a damaged soul.

This materialistic and competitive striving and needing "to have and own" has been linked to deteriorating mental health - especially in young people.5 So while the drive system is important to achieve certain things, we have to be careful that it does not get out of balance so that we become overly focussed on achieving and feeling frustrated, angry, inadequate, and depressed when we do not succeed.

Effects of Living in the Drive and Affiliation Mode

Without regulation, external or from within our own moral codes, out of control drive and affiliation motivations and its related stresses can lead to the worst types of injustice, greed, and atrocities, not to mention the damage to our own body, mind, and spirit. The tools in this application acts as a regulator, providing balance and direction between our virtuous and questionable intent.

There is nothing wrong with desires. Have desires and work hard, but at becoming excellent at doing something that benefits yourself, and the whole world - at the same time, without becoming attached to the outcome of your efforts. Enjoy the process, and use the obstacles along the path to further enhance your practice of mindfulness and compassion for self and others.

By being mindful of our motives and desires, the best we can, we place in the center, what we want and seek in the world. What our deepest intent is, will show up in our work and determine the direction which our drive based emotions will take us in.