Desire is something that’s glamourised by the entertainment and advertising industries. It’s exciting in its provocative promise of something better than what you’re currently experiencing. But have you ever wondered if it’s your desire that’s making you unhappy?
Every time you long for those shoes or that car, or whenever you sigh in frustration because you won’t be happy until you find your perfect partner, your desire is taking you out of the present moment and into a place of dissatisfaction. A place where you are displeased with how things are so you want something different from what is.
That is not to say that your desires should be repressed. It is healthy to want something and to go for it. Eknath Easwaran writes: “Desire is the fuel of life; without desire nothing can be achieved.” However, desire often takes over and kidnaps you from the present moment, holding you captive in a hellish existence of How I Wish That and If Only. You’re not really living when you’re longing for all the things you haven’t got.
In this case, you have identified with the mind’s idea of an ideal world. You could be content if you just had more money. You’ll finally find happiness when you start a family. You’ll be able to relax when you’ve bought your own home. Well, maybe not until you’ve paid off the mortgage… The mind has tricked you. The ego’s desires can never be satiated. Eckhart Tolle writes:
“As long as I am my mind, I am those cravings, those needs, wants, attachments, and aversions, and apart from them there is no ‘I’ except as a mere possibility, an unfulfilled potential, a seed that has not yet sprouted.”
The trick to all this is to become aware of your thoughts and the feelings that arise from them. How attached are you to the fulfilment of these desires? And who are you without them? This means becoming present. In the present moment, you can learn to be content with what is. What you have or haven’t got doesn’t matter when you’re truly present.
And if, in this moment, you desire something, your presence of mind will allow you to achieve it. And so you will be able to bake the most delicious cake. Or share some wonderful intimacy with a loved one. Or pluck up the courage to ask that person out. Or feel confident enough to go for the job you really want. Or simply take yourself to the ocean’s edge and really see it and hear it and feel its spray on your upturned face.