The difference between want and need is that a need stems from something deep within ourselves. A need is something that would add to one’s evolution. A need is something that would aid one’s unfoldment. That is a need, and those needs are fulfilled in various ways. It could be fulfilled with growing pains, for example. A child needs to grow up, and in his need, he might feel all these growing pains. A child needs to learn to walk, and it will fall and hurt itself so many times before the child walks. A man has needs for one thing, primarily to find the joy and happiness that is latent within him. That is his primary need.

He tries to translate the need into wants by his thought forces and patternings. He thinks he wants half a dozen Cadillacs, a mansion with 20 rooms, or some big business or job to fulfil the need. The mind creates all these wants, and as we have said many times, the mind is nothing but a set of patterns. So instead of flowing with your real inner self, with your real need, you are flowing with patterns. You are flowing on the surface where no depth is felt and where those wants become needless.

We drift from one polarity to the other all the time. We create wants. Show me any want that a man would want that is totally valid. You want a vacation. Where is the greatest vacation that you would find? By going to Hawaii or the Bermudas or Barbados, Cape Town, South Africa? Would you find your needs there? Or is it just an imaginary thing you have created that you now want?

There could be nothing wrong with the want, but you have to pay an excellent price for it, and I do not mean the cost of air tickets. With that want, there is selfishness involved. The selfishness in the sense that it would make you happier, but it does not. For example, whenever you go on a holiday, remember you will need a holiday after the holiday. Because nobody knows how to go for a holiday. This can be a holiday, a holy day, coming to a course where everything is still, quiet, where you listen to some teachings and do your meditations.

The distinction lies in wants and needs. The mind creates desires, and they could be very fictional because you always want more and more and more. If you have a million, you will want two million; if you have two, you will want five. It is a never-ending process producing unhappiness.

There are real wants in life, and the real want is joy, which is a need also. Here you use want differently: you combine the want with the need. You need love, and because you need love, you will make plans; you will devise ways to fulfil that need in a wanting, longing manner. You will devise strategies as far as your mind is concerned to fulfil legitimate wants. You want to eat food, and I would rather say I need food than I want food.


There is a fine distinction between want and need. Need is what primarily is required for sustaining you in this little body and allowing it to express itself in total accordance and concordance with natural laws, and those needs will always be fulfilled. They will always be fulfilled. Because needs are genuine; wants are artificial. I can do without going to Hawaii. I can do without going to Barbados. It is not a need; it is a want, a fixture of my imagination that I will feel so much better by going there. No. That feeling of that goodness is there inside.

Try this sometime. Go and see an excellent show that you have heard so much about, but go in a bad mood, and you will not enjoy the show. You will not enjoy the finest musical. But go there with a beautiful frame of mind, and that which is not so good will seem better to you. So, wants are the making of the mind, and the more the mind indulges in wants, the more wants will be created. It is insatiable that could never be satisfied.


The true need of man is to find his inner self so that his life can be harmonious. The true need of man is to love and to be loved. That is a need, and that opens up his inner self. The true need of man is to be able to think clearly, to know what discrimination is; that is a true need for man as far as the mind is concerned. And a true need for man is to have his three meals a day and a place to rest his head. That is a need of the body. So, the Spiritual Self is accompanied by some requirements; needs accompany the mental self and the physical body. Therefore, they are valid.


When we come to wants, it is “I want that, I want that,” and it only proves that you are still a young child, growing up but emotionally immature, and the greatest need in life is to find maturity. Because everyone is wanting, wanting, wanting, and all this wanting to be put together in this world is creating all the frictions in this world as well as within yourself.

By wanting, you also mean possession; you want to possess. That is a want also. You need some possessions, by all means, but the mind has a habit of exaggerating those wants into kinds of possessions. You wear a one-carat diamond; you get tired of it, then it must be a two-carat diamond. Those are wants, and wants are associated with cravings. And that is the thing that one has to go beyond, craving. That is the greatest stumbling block to man’s happiness because he craves for something even worse than wants. Cravings drive men to insanity; not the kind of insanity that we find in asylums, but a kind of perversion of the mind, a fanaticism, and all those kinds of “isms” you can associate with.


Wants could lead a man to a craving, and craving is the most significant stumbling block because your entirety is involved in craving, which is not something positive. When I say entirety, your Spirit remains unaffected, but the entirety of your mind and your body is filled with craving. And when you have a craving, you become totally attached, and attachment is the mother of all misery. At the same time, the need for man is to live a full life in whatever way he chooses and yet be so non-attached.

There is a difference between detachment and non-attachment, and the difference is that to be detached, you are escaping. I found many so-called yogis, gurus, and aspirants that I have met in my travels throughout the Himalayas, not practising non-attachment but detachment. Detachment is an escape. You detach yourself from circumstances because you cannot face them. You go into seclusion because the pressures, tensions, and stresses of the world do not allow you to become a recluse. You try to get away from it all. You are escaping. That is detachment. That is cutting off. We do not want to be cut off. We want to be in the world and enjoy everything but in a non-attached manner, which means that whatever happens is not affecting us.

When you start viewing the world as a play, all the fanaticism is gone. All the “isms” are gone. Like this one preacher, he was up there, and he says, “Down with Catholicism, down with Protestantism, down with Hinduism, down with Buddhism, down with that ism and that ism. Some old lady sitting at the back there says, “How about throwing in rheumatism.”


To be non-attached is to find beauty in life, and life is always beautiful. It is so beautiful. It is our attachment to life that produces all the misery in us. You can view life; life is joyful if you know how to practice non-attachment. The man you know so much about in the Western culture was Jesus. In the world yet not of the world. That is non-attachment.

… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang US 1981 – 32