Mindfulness on desire
In Zen Buddhism, desire (I want), it opposite hatred (I don’t want)and illusion are considered our 3 main roots of unhappiness, struggle, disappointment and dissatisfaction because they are directly related to our ego-mind.
Many think that Zen spiritual life must be free from desire. This is misunderstanding Zen message.
Desire and hatred is day-to-day ongoing reality. Getting rid off our desires and hatred is impossible because our ego mind loves to dream.
As soon you wake up you want to sleep a bit more.
As soon you go to bed, you want, most of the time, to fall asleep fast.
At 4 PM even sooner, you want to go home and so on.
Common sense requires that we understand desire that is its positive but also its negative impacts.
In Zen practice like in anything else in life, avoiding the extremes is always the key if one is looking for serenity rather than ongoing struggles. We call that: “Experiencing the Middle Way”
They are healthy and expected desires coming from the depths of our beings such as love, good health, stability, interaction, etc.
They are also unhealthy and destructive desires based on addictions, grasping, greed, clinging, control, power domination and many more.
A good way to deal with our desires is to identify and write down them, then to analyze them one by one regarding their need, importance, rational, feasibility, timing, what kind of fulfillment are you expecting and so on.
Our desires can be material, intellectual, emotional such as more money, a new job, losing weight, traveling, power, ongoing happiness, etc.
Bring it to your mind and notice how your body is reacting to the idea and what emotions does it trigger such as excitement, impatience, even fear.
Remember that our Western society is based on consumerism in which the creation of desires thru advertising is critical. Our culture is brainwashing our mind 24/7 with deceptive tricks such as 1) I will be happier if, 2) How can I survive w/o having this and that, 3) You absolutely need this right now. 4) Be happier with that. 5) You will feel younger if
Is there a way to deal with our desires?
Here is a proposal:
Observing your desires very closely, you will notice that wanting and desires are usually fleeting, without essence but when they catch us, it is like a powerful intoxicant and we cannot see clearly anymore.
It is also important not to confuse desire with pleasure. Pleasure whatever physical, intellectual and emotional are natural and a blessing part of our human experience.
The problem with our ” I want” is its powerful ongoing grasping/clinging because it will never cease; jumping from one achieved desire to the next one expecting it will create an happy life.
Scientifically, it has been showed that it is not the case because objects of desires are endless and the search for happiness simply cannot be achieve from the outside.
It is like filling a bottomless bucket with water and watching if the level of water is rising. Choosing wisely is one way to neutralize this never ended quest.
George Bernard Shaw said
“ Our 2 greatest disappointments in life are 1) Not getting what we want and 2) Getting it”
Yes, desires are normal and necessary. However they are also one of the roots causing suffering when:
We become controlled if not obsessed by our ongoing behavior to fulfill them one by one in an everlasting quest.
We realize that after obtaining something from desire, the pleasure is always transient.
Time to chase something else is automatic.
Eventually, we realize that reaching happiness by achieving our desires is more a delusion that reality and, in fact, an ongoing source of frustration from “not having and always looking for more”.