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A Deeper Look Into Desire


What is desire? Why do we desire? Is it wrong to desire?

When we want something, do we really want it? Or are we actually wanting something else?

It's so normal to want things. We want a better job, we want a better house, we want a better body - we just want a better life. In fact, this wanting is what drives most of our behavior. Desire is the great motivator, right alongside fear.

But I'd like to question what it is we really desire.

Let's say you want a new pair of shoes. You've been keeping your eye on a pair for a while, and there's this new style that you think would go perfectly with many of your outfits. So you browse, you visit different stores, you even try on a pair. You have to have them, they're perfect!

So you get them. Desire speaks out through that voice in your head with which you're so familiar, and you hear it. Not only do you hear it, but you listen to it. Of course, master! Buy these shoes! Right away, right away!

In this scenario, that wasn't you who wanted to buy the shoes. That was desire. You just happened to be taking orders from desire.

In any case, you buy the shoes, and you feel great! They fit just right, they look fantastic, and you're excited about showing them off. For a moment, you're actually happy. Life is actually good.

Then while you're out and about, you notice someone else wearing the exact same pair. "This couldn't be," you say to yourself. "I just bought these shoes. I thought I was the only one!" Now you want a different pair.

Just a moment ago you were on cloud nine, and now, you're filled with rage.

What just happened here? You wanted the shoes. You got them. And then you were happy. End of story, right?

Not exactly.

When you got the shoes, you fulfilled your desire. Where there was once a feeling of unease, getting the shoes filled that hole. But immediately after, something else happened; and a new desire set in: get rid of the rage.

At this moment, you can either give in to that new desire, or you can pause and witness what's happening within you. You have a choice - follow the next desire, knowing that another one will always be there. Or to rest back as the peaceful observer of these desires.

That which is aware of desire is not desire. You can realize that desires arise and cease within consciousness, but consciousness does not cease. That's why paying mindful attention to your inner being is so important for any true growth.

Filling your desires is like playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. The only way out is to realize you're playing the game in the first place. None of this is apparent unless you learn to examine your inner experience.

Perhaps, your desire is simply to not feel desire anymore. Perhaps, what we all desire is the cessation of desire in the first place, and the sense of inner peace that comes with that.

When our desires are so strong, we respect them. We believe in them so much. We don't even question them. We think we're the ones doing the desiring, when in reality, the desiring is doing us. We're just so caught in it.

We can learn to take a more objective approach by noticing these patterns of desires as they come up.

Pay attention to the start of a craving, and follow it through until the end. You don't have to modify your behavior. Just watch your human tendency to have a desire, act on the desire, and then reflect on the desire. Keep watching, and it won't be long until the next desire pops up and you go follow that.

If we don't take a step back and simply observe this pattern that's ruling our lives, we'll be forever stuck in the loop. Watch your desires. Notice where they take you, and how they never seem to end. Then question what it is you really want.

Do you really want what the desire says you want? Or do you just want to not be at the mercy of desire in the first place?

Live with substance!

Gabe Orlowitz

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