I love desire. For me, desire has been an incredible teacher and I keep showing up for class. Desire in all of it’s various forms can open doors for us that we could never even envision if only we simply allow it in and not be frightened. Our culture tantalizes us with all sorts of desires – the complete spectrum from food to sex, and then tells us that our desires are somehow bad and need to be contained. Very few people talk about desire as a tool, or as a spiritual practice (except in denial), or the ability of desire to be a great teacher.
I just came back from a trip to London where I attended “The Fertility Show” where I was surrounded by people driven by the desire to be parents. They were willing to do almost anything to fill that desire – and that desire will forever change them whether it is fulfilled or not.
I am a proud student of desire, and I encourage you to check out your own in a new light. In my own life, I have spent the last few years deeply exploring the meaning of desire. It is amazing the various forms that it can take for me, and it’s impact on who I am as a human being. For me, desire can be a deeply spiritual emotion. I find it paradoxical that many religions seek to deny desire in all of it’s forms whether it be the desire for food, sex, family or materials goods. For them, it is the denial of desire that is the path to God. Just yesterday a friend of mine turned me onto Buddhist psychiatrist and author, Mark Epstein, MD.
He had contributed this little piece “In Defense of Desire” in Tricycle Magazine, which I found very moving.
As the well-known contemporary Indian teacher Sri Nisargadatta, famous for sitting on a crowded street corner selling inexpensive bidis, or Indian cigarettes, once commented, “The problem is not desire. It’s that your desires are too small.” The left-handed path means opening to desire so that it becomes more than just a craving for whatever the culture has conditioned us to want. Desire is a teacher: when we immerse ourselves in it without guilt, shame, or clinging, it can show us something special about our own minds that allows us to embrace life fully.”
Desire as a teacher, and a spiritual path that can open us to embrace life fully. Now that is a concept worth exploring.