Why Desire is the Fabric of Living
Desire is a highly powerful tool when utilised properly in our lives. Desire is the starting point for everything created in the world around us. Healthy desire is something that enables us to breath, walk and go about our daily business. Desire also enables us to have ambitions, which is the need to progress and advance our lives. To summarise, desire forms the very basis of our existence on this planet. Without the desire to exist, we would merely cease to exist. There are many philosophies on desire though. The subject of desire has become a highly contentious issue in the world of psychology.
Desire is generally seen as a positive thing, especially in modern day philosophy. It must also be recognised though, that there is a dark shadow in the room when it comes to our discussion on desire, desire when misused can cause us great suffering. Today, I am going to explain the difference between healthy desire and unhealthy desire.
Comparing the Western Vs the Eastern View on Desire
My focus today will be on evaluating both Eastern and Western views on desire. I will be explaining why both views have some decent premises but are also flawed in many ways. The true meaning of Desire was something I often struggled to understand. It was only when I recently read the ‘Through the Gates of Gold’ by Mabel Collins that I began to understand the true nature of healthy desire. Collins feels that desire is a natural part of our existence, it is not something that should be either destroyed or coveted. Collins also feels that it is our obsession with the attachment to sensation that is often our biggest enemy and must be subdued.
‘And while he is still human, it is essential that he share in the desire for success, which is the natural stimulant to effort.’ – Mabel Collins
Joseph Benner also speaks of this often in his work, he speaks of the need to simply accept any desires that arise. By not accepting our desires, we often block them from manifesting with our own emotional responses. We must learn to take an impartial view of desire, if we wish to avoid suffering. We must learn to simply accept our desires and let them go.
The Western View of Desire – A Slave to Desire
“The average person is full of artificial desires, desires that have been suggested by what other people possess or require.” – Christian D Larson
The British view on desire is very similar to the American one. The idea is, that excessive material gain is the thing we are looking to achieve in life at any cost. We are also schooled in this country from an early age, with the idea that if we don’t achieve a certain level of success that we will be seen as loser by society. We are taught that we will end up on the scrapheap of life. The idea being, that if you dont become rich, you should be ashamed of yourself. We are taught to have only artificial external desires, we are not taught to listen to our inner desires.
In effect, we are taught that we should become a slave to our desires. If you don’t wish to become a slave to your desires for grandeur, you are an inherent failure. The desire for social status that is so prevalent now in the western world must also be mentioned. It is not just material gain we now seek in 2020, we also need to seek daily validation on social media amongst other things.
“Whenever you permit yourself to think what persons, things, conditions, or circumstances may suggest, you are not following what you want to think. You are not following your own desires but borrowed desires. Use your imagination in determining what you want to think or do.” – Christian D Larson
We feel the need to be rich, beautiful, attractive and admired by our peers. We also have the need to be better than other people and worse than that, we feel we must defeat anyone who stands in the way of our ambitions. Then we wonder why rates of depression and suicide are so high in the western world and are rising with everyday that passes. It is not because of any great scientific reason that this is happening. The west is so depressed and gloom ridden, because we are schooled from a young age to become a slave to our desires. If we don’t achieve our desires, we believe we have failed. We should be turning to our own imagination, not taking on the desires that we are told that we should take on by society.
We must learn to think for ourselves and not allow others to tell us what we want in life!
This post is not anti money, anti status or anti success. All of these things are fantastic in their own place and drive humans on to bettering themselves. The issue comes when we completely ignore our own inner development and focus solely on external things to make us happy.
‘Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.’ – Ramana Marharshi
If we wish to change our external lives, inner development must be our starting place. This is completely overlooked in the western view of desire. We are not taught to attain the right mindset towards desire, we are taught to desperately chase after desire without the inner tools we actually need to achieve our desires. The tools we actually need to become successful in life, are within us.
The Eastern View of Desire – A Pointless Existence
The contrasting view of desire, the Eastern view, one that is often taught in Buddhism and India. This is the notion, that all desire is bad and must be extinguished. In the west, we have the extreme belief that desire should become an obsessive part of our everyday life. In eastern philosophy, we have the extreme belief that all desire should be destroyed as it is the root of all suffering. Don’t get me wrong, if your plan is to live in a temple in Tibet without any earthly material possessions, then this can work for you.
The non desire route can be highly effective and can bring great peace of mind. Many sages throughout history have proved the effectiveness of this idea and have attained great joy through utilising this method of living. But if you plan to continue living in the western world where we are reliant to any degree on material possessions, then to live like this is highly unrealistic. We need money to cloth ourselves, eat everyday and keep a roof over our heads. We need the basic desire to sustain all of these things in our lives.
‘If he chooses to sacrifice that which makes him man, he must be content with mere idleness of consciousness, — a condition compared to which the oyster’s is a life of excitement. But no man is able to accomplish such a feat. The fact of his continued existence proves plainly that he still desires sensation, and desires it in such positive and active form that the desire must be gratified in physical life.‘ – Mabel Collins
Living without desire is only effective in extreme circumstances and will only work for a minority of people. It is our attitude towards desire that must be shaken, we don’t cure unhealthy attitudes by simply ignoring the problem we have. Desire is a fundamental part of ourselves, we don’t cure the issue by trying to ignore the issue. This is very similar to my feelings on positive thinking, running away from negative thoughts and trying to suppress them is also highly ineffective. We need to become aware of our desires in the same way we must become aware of our own thinking. Awareness is the key starting pointing of developing every aspect of our lives. We do not need to become celibate or abstain from living to have a healthier view of desire.
Desire must come Naturally to us from Inner consciousness
We must view desire as something naturally within us, this idea must be taken hold of and accepted. Desire when it is viewed creatively is a highly powerful aspect of our being. Our issue comes when we fail to see it as a natural progression in our lives but as something that defines us and has power over us. Desire must never be the leading cause of whether we feel happy or unhappy. If we decide that our desires determine our happiness, we are completely attached to our desires. Attachment to desire is the true root of all the suffering we experience.
We must never define ourselves by the outcome of our desires, we must not become a slave to our desires. We must also understand that desire forms a healthy part of our existence. Desire should be experimented with and experienced for good or for bad. Begin to view your desires as simply being part of the game of life. Which is a complicated way of stating, that you must stop taking life so seriously and begin to see life simply as the experience that it is. Desire is our simple need to advance as human beings. Without advancement, humanity would stand still.
The Balancing Act we must Master
As most of us can comprehend, life is the great balancing act. We must always seek the middle road, the extreme view that all desire is unhealthy and must be extinguished leaves us in complete limbo. You will have no desire to even live anymore and will merely cease to exist. We need desire to continue living. Without a desire to live, we will simply do nothing and be nothing.
The flip side is we become a slave to our desires and can’t find any mental peace in life unless we achieve our desires. We desperately seek to attain greatness through desire. We desperately want more and we never find the point where our thirst for ‘things’ is satisfied. By thinking like this, we leave ourselves in a position of never being able to enjoy the moment. We constantly live in a mindset of obsessing over desires that we must achieve in the future. We forget to even experience the moment and when our desires don’t turn out the way we wish them too, the suffering and torment begins.
No effort is required
Once we begin to see desire in a healthier way and lose the attachment we have to it, we then discover the meaning of healthy desire. We do not need to put endless concentration and energy behind our desires, in order for them to succeed. In fact, the less attached we are and the more detached we are. The more our life naturally flows and peace is found. If we attach ourselves to desire, we actually work against ourselves. The more we desire something, the more we begin to believe we can’t have it.
The Power of Faith in our Desires
“The time it takes your assumption to become fact, your desire to be fulfilled, is directly proportionate to the NATURALNESS of your feeling of already being what you want to be… of already having what you desire.” – Neville Goddard
Neville taught us that we should assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled, he didn’t believe we needed to feel extreme excitement to achieve this. He simply felt that we should feel our desire as having a natural part of our existence. We should learn to cultivate a feeling of acceptance and gratitude about any desire we have in life. We don’t need to fight for our desires, we need to simply accept and feel grateful for our desires as if they are already coming true.
Attachment to Desire is the cause of Suffering – Detachment to Desire is our release from Suffering
The more we move into a state acceptance about our desires, the more we find things naturally go the way we want them too. We must choose the middle road, the road where we simply feel at peace and feel grateful that our desires will come to pass.
We must not become Attached to our Desires, We Must become Detached from our Desires and believe that the best will naturally happen in our lives.
Desire is not a good or bad thing, it merely is a natural part of our existence as human beings. The minute we begin seeing desire as a natural part of our lives and stop paying it so much attention, we have found the key to ending all of our suffering. Attaching happiness to any desire is the great enemy you must learn to slay! Desire is not selfish either. Desire only becomes selfish when it causes harm to another person. If your desire causes no harm to another, then it’s a natural desire to pursue. A short piece from Christian D Larson on mastery of self to round out a long post today.