Thursday, 8 September 2011

I Have Lived to Die When I Desire.

The path to enlightenment - as one studies the literature and resources available, seeks out the working teachers, and explores the various traditions that exist - often requires the seeker to stop desiring...well, anything, really. When you cannot be hurt, the self is gone; when you desire nothing, everything is available; the absence of desire is the beginning of happiness; and on and on. This is another way to be. No desire is difficult since the ego is manipulating its desires, and in the end desires desirelessness. Well, expand beyond the ego, say the sages. In the state of grace, Nirvana, or whichever label we're attaching to the concept/state of perfect bliss - a very desirable state - all worldly concerns disappear, along with the body, if only for a brief time. Go beyond. Far beyond, way beyond...into nothingness.

In the meantime, our friends and loved ones probably are wondering why we're so detached and uncaring, and have stopped doing the laundry, or helping the children with their homework, or having difficult conversations about those things friends inevitably clash on when they have two differing sets of conditioning.

Oh no, say the sages, in the state of ego desirelessness, all beings are equally loved, in fact, they are recognised as being love itself. This is so. But perhaps not desiring fun, fulfillment or health for ourselves and others can be described as not using all the marvelous tools we apparently have: our emotions, our minds, our arms, our legs.

There is nothing wrong with following certain traditions that endorse desirelessness. If nothing else, it's a useful discipline. But wading into the whole ego/life setup, sleeves rolled up, full of humanity, can also give a great "result". It is, in fact, what you've been doing all along. Even if you've been meditating away your desires.

The following clip from The Remains of the Day is the best illustration I know of advocating a little unrequited longing. The tool of desire, unindulged, gives us - in the vast panoply of human emotion - something incredibly raw and rich, sharp yet soft. Anthony Hopkins acts his comfy cardy off. Those eyes!