I am confounded by desire, brought about (most recently) by the packing of clothing and possessions to take to my new home, my much smaller home; looking at what I once found desirable and had to have, and finding that that is no longer the case. I’m looking at my obsession with things and wondering how did I get here, how and when did it get so out of hand? The unworn dresses, the rainbow array of handbags. I had 12 lipstain tubes in a drawer! 12! (Maybe that’s vanity; is vanity a form of desire?) I have small vases by the dozen. I won’t even count them. And I’m confounded by carnal desire, brought about (most recently) by a rash of urgent phone calls and emails of a sexual nature—wondering over and over why lust is such a seemingly integral part of my soul, why is the desire to be desired is so strong. Am I so wounded or do I think so little of myself that lust trumps all indiscretions, all absurdities? That if you tell me how you’re going to fuck me, I forgive or forget everything else? What are all these holes I’m trying to fill? See my confusion?
As I pare down, as I strip away the layers of accumulation and expectations, I have no choice but to confront desires, including the sexual ones, because sexual desire is as ruling, as delicious (if not more so) as the pretty pumps. This move is in part to discover what is the essential me, and I can’t even begin to understand that with all this extraneous stuff. But then—it was desire that brought me to this point—a desire to be happy, creative, independent, is what propelled me to make this marvelous and adventurous life-change. See my confusion?
The second noble truth, as told by Buddha, says desire causes suffering. I’m even suffering in my confusion about desire! Desire is a drug, for sure, so insidious, so seductive, so easy to swallow that you don’t even realize you’re hooked until you find 12 lipstains in your bathroom. Yet the desire to grow is invaluable, a tool that can move you to purpose and understanding—and while I bargain and do battle with some aspects of the desire drug, I am very glad to have also been injected by that particular strain.
“The central fire is desire, and all the powers of our being are given us to see, to fight for, and to win the object of our desire. Quench that fire and man turns to ashes.”
Basil W. Maturin, Laws of the Spiritual Life
“Desire, like the atom, is explosive with creative force.”
Paul Vernon Buser
“Sex … or lack thereof … is at the center of everyone’s identity, and once you’ve cracked someone’s desires, you understand them in full.”
Arianne Cohen, Marie Claire Magazine, March 2008
“…You can’t eliminate desire! Without the basic desires for food, water and shelter, we’d die. Without the desire for sex, the human race would disappear. If Buddhism was about eliminating desire, he thought, then Buddhism was stupid.
Nishijima was not the first person to notice this. Lots of people have thought the same thing and many of those people, quite sensibly, rejected Buddhism altogether as being simply unrealistic. Which it would be, if that’s what it actually said.
It may be true that the cause of suffering is desire. However, the solution to this problem is not to eliminate desire, but to confront and understand desire for what it actually is.”
photo credit: kinseyconfidential.org