I believe that human beings are in constant search of freedom, peace and inner happiness, whether we are aware of it or not. However, it is no secret that we generally seek the fulfillment of these desires.
like that, we embarked on the relentless pursuit of pleasure and away from painBut the only thing it does is cause us more pain. We are obsessed with success, beauty, money, power, consumption, pleasurable experiences, approval and prestige, among many others that we are blinded by the fact that these are not lasting things and that they can’t make us really happy either.
Hanging on to desires leads to dissatisfaction
Clinging to these things leaves us as Buddhist meditation master Sogyal Rinpoche says “like people crawling through an endless desert, dying of thirst” because what our modern society offers us to drink, through which we teach that it is important to hunt, and what we have also chosen to drink is a glass of salt water which makes our thirst even more intense. We want more and more of those objects, situations, experiences, or people to which we attribute the power to make us happy, and along the way, not only do we become more thirsty and lost, but we can also seriously harm those who we are. surround.
Just think about unbridled ambition of certain public figures and politicians and how this ambition takes away the resources intended to generate the well-being of the people whose mission it is to serve, leaving in its place great poverty, hunger, violence and pain. Affection for desires makes us selfish, it only thinks of our well-being. However, this is not a wise way to achieve this, as holding onto desire never leaves you satisfied and neither is it the way to feel fullness.
Another example is the unhealthy inclination towards a partner. The desire to connect, to love and to feel loved, becomes with attachment, a desire to own and control the other, as if it is possible to get them to never leave or never to change their feelings. Since it is not, again drop happiness in a person it leaves those who do it constantly dissatisfied, Because the expectations that he places on the other are unrealistic.
It is likely that on several occasions we have said or thought that we will be happy when we finally travel, that we have the desired house, car, accomplishment or person, only to find out later that although these things bring us joy for a time, they do not give us the lasting peace and happiness that we seek and that, as expected, new desires arise again.
Does this mean that we had better eliminate desire from our lives?
The two types of desires
Jack Kornfield, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, explains from the point of view of Buddhist philosophy that there are healthy and unhealthy desires. These come from a neutral mental state called the will to do. When the will to do is approached in a healthy way, it provokes healthy desires. When treated in an unhealthy manner, it causes unhealthy desires.
We can want something for different reasons. People may want to help others out of genuine compassion and generosity or out of admiration. They may wish to create technology to destroy or contribute to development and health. The condition works in a subtle wayEven in things that seem harmless or good and often in desires, the motivations are mixed. We may want to travel for the desire to know and expand our view of the world and diversity, or to not be left behind, to show every detail on social media, or to escape trouble.
Kornfield explains that a healthy desire creates happiness, is based on wisdom, kindness, and compassion, and leads to self-interest, responsible stewardship, generosity, flexibility, integrity, and caring. spiritual growth. Unhealthy desire creates suffering, is based on greed and ignorance, and leads to possession, self-centeredness, fear, greed, compulsion, and dissatisfaction. Inner freedom arises from the ability not to cling to desire. It’s different to get rid of it.
It’s about learning to relate wisely to desire. If we don’t become obsessed with achieving what we want or stop enjoying life without these things being present. It involves an open and relaxed attitude towards desires. We can let go and calmly reflect on them and observe what drives them or if we really need to make them happen. If we decide to do them, we do it consciously.
Towards a form of dependence
Buddhist philosophy describes this state as a hungry spirit whose desire is insatiable and therefore suffers greatly, because nothing can satisfy.
As Mason-John & Groves put it, “in a way we can all relate to hungry ghosts, because we live in a culture where nothing is enough … We want to live in a bigger place, we want to have a better job, more vacations, the latest technological innovation, the last of all. Although we do not define ourselves as drug addicts, many of us use acceptable drugs, such as food, social toast, medicine, sex, shopping, friendships, etc. endure the emptiness of our lives “.
Work with desire and pain
Thus, it is necessary to transform the relationship we have with desire and also with pain, because the inability to be with the inevitable pain of life leads us to take refuge in unhealthy desires which paradoxically end up producing greater suffering. It is important to encourage healthy desires and to get rid of those that enslave us. Therefore, we can use our full attention on our mental states when desire arises and kindly observe how we feel when it is present and what we feel when we cling to it. In this way, we began to discern the healthy desires from the unhealthy ones. Likewise, we can continue to recognize how we use desires to escape what is uncomfortable and if this is our usual way of reacting.
Kornfield, expresses that we need to investigate desire and be willing to work with it to regain our innate freedom and balance. Working with desires will depend on whether we tend to suppress them or desire them excessively. It is about not resisting or clinging to desires when they arise, but to accept them well and to observe their natural course without necessarily acting on them.
This practice helps us to tell in a more compassionate and kind way with our inner experience, Which in turn helps us to better regulate our emotions and to act with greater awareness. We realize that thoughts, as well as desire and painful emotions come and go, are not permanent because we believe in these times when they arise. We take power away from unhealthy desires when we do not act on them, despite their intensity. Then they stop ruling us.
Instead of running away from pain, we face it with compassion and without judgment., By allowing it to be and dissolve by itself. We stop identifying with what is happening to us and our inner experiences. We recognize this crucial moment, in which, by pausing, we can realize that we have a choice and we can respond more consciously to the situations that life presents to us, without causing us secondary suffering.
Finally, Tara Brach, clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, mentions that we aspire to discover our true nature, and that behind our countless desires hides a spiritual desire, but because our desires tend to cling and fix on things that are transient, we feel alienated from who we are. To feel distant from our own reality, we identify with our desires and the means to satisfy them, What sets us apart even more. It is by cultivating a calm mind that we can become aware of, listen to and respond to our deepest desires. As they say over there “Invest in what a shipwreck cannot take away from you”.
- Kornfield, J. (2010). Wisdom of the heart. A guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology. Barcelona, Spain: The March Hare.
- Mason-John, V. and Groves P. (2015). Mindfulness and addictions. Eight-step recovery. Spain: Editorial Siglantana.
- Rinpoche S. (2015). The Tibetan Book of Life and Death. 20th anniversary commemorative edition. Barcelona, Spain: Edicions Urano.
- Brach, T. (2003). Radical acceptance. Madrid, Spain: Gaia Edicions.