We all have desires. We want more money, maybe. Or, more of what money can buy – a new home or car. Or, to pay off our credit card bills. We want another person in our lives – a close, intimate, soul mate relationship. We want our children to be happy and healthy. We want to have a true, joy filled vocation, rather than a job. We want the sun to shine all the time. What are your desires?
Those of us on a spiritual path want to see ourselves more clearly – to live more authentically. We may want to be love, peace, freedom, joy.
Our desires can help us grow and evolve as beings. They represent our innate striving for our highest good and the highest good of all. Nothing at all wrong with desires – they have the ability to serve us well.
The hole in the road with desires is our desires can become attachments – almost a compulsion, something we feel we “need.”
Here is the Buddhist take on attachment from Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das (a fantastic book!): “It is the nature of life that all beings will face difficulties; through enlightened living one can transcend these difficulties, ultimately becoming fulfilled, liberated and free. . . . The Second Noble Truth: Life is difficult because of attachment, because we crave satisfaction in ways that are inherently dissatisfying.”
So, life is difficult because of our attachments. And, the Buddhist path has been a way for many beings to free themselves. This book is a wonderful guide to that path. Other paths surely exist.
I think it’s really important to understand the difference between desires which have an enriching, spiritual ground and attachment. Many of us are confused on this issue.
I have a simple test that works for me. If a desire I have disturbs me – it prevents me from truly living in this present moment, then it is an attachment. When I find myself caught up in what I want and don’t yet have, then I forget to be grateful for what I do have. I spend a lot of time and thoughts on being dissatisfied right now because I don’t yet have something I want. This moment is not lived. My desire/need is consuming me.
If I can cultivate awareness to the point I am aware of my thoughts around my desire, then I can simply let that thought go. Maybe even replace it with gratitude for my life as it is. Now, I’m living in the present moment.
Desires are great. Nothing at all wrong with wanting financial security or material things. Or, enlightenment. It’s great to desire more in our lives. And – stay tuned in to yourself. Has a freeing, potentially nurturing desire become an attachment? If so, let it go – you’ve crossed the line – now life may look difficult to you because you don’t yet have the object of your desire. Seeing ourselves and our thoughts clearly can set us free.
At the same time, we are co-creators with Divine energy. We have to do our part to fulfill our desires. Our actions must match our desires. If I want financial freedom and spend money I don’t have, then I am not walking my talk. Most likely financial freedom will always allude me. I may never feel grateful for what I do have. The present moment has passed me by.
So, the trick is to go into our deepest, truest Self and discover our true, soul enriching desires. Be clear about those desires. Act consistent with them. And, let them go. Trusting – at the right time and place our desires will be filled in a way that is in our highest good. Maybe not in exactly the way we envisioned them being fulfilled. Ultimately, in our highest good.