The following is a quote from a comment left some time ago now. I’ve been sitting with what to say in answer especially as the book referenced in the comment left me…not hanging in uncertainty as the write says of herself below, just a tad perplexed.
Recently I’ve been reading material that deals with the realization of our desires, and have been trying to reconcile it with the Buddhist position of no desire, and I guess I could say that I’m hanging in uncertainty! I think that one can only live in the present, and that breathing and accepting what one is experiencing in that moment (even though you “want” more) is the only way to live. I’ve come a long way in coming to this understanding…..(here follows a quote from a book)
Frankly I don’t visit the spiritual section or self help section or even the religious/Buddhist section in bookstores and only very rarely visit on-line stores. So my perplexedness is now realizing there is a whole huge world of material out there about getting what one wants, or the realization of our desires which seems to have gone to a whole new level! Frankly, and I know this is an unpopular thought, I’d say it is best to walk past, walk outside and take some sunshine in a nearby park instead of leafing through books such as these.
And yet, and perhaps, it is through such material people come to practice in a faith tradition or take their spiritual understanding deeper as the writer above has done and says as much too. I’ve come a long way in coming to this understanding….(spiritual understanding), and I know she has. And if I cast my mind back pre-monasticism, and am honest, I too read widely in search of answers to the big questions. Perhaps it was part of refining what it was that I REALLY wanted. Then found it, not in a book!
As for the subject of desire in Buddhist teaching. Suffering, the first of the Four Nobel Truths is caused primarily, but not exclusively, by tanha which is translated as thirst, desire or craving. As long as we are flesh and blood and however enlightened we might be, desire will arise. It is the thirsting after that which we desire (even holy matters) which is the continuation of suffering. The sad thing is that however much we get what we desire it is never enough. There are always more subtle desires, or not so subtle ones to pursue. Endlessly. Wanting is a wily beast! As the thirsting after is seen, and seen for what it is, yes indeed ones desires/needs/wants become fewer and perhaps more basic to survival. But self judgment and judgment of others around the subject of, the level of and the content of desire is a sport best let go of very quickly indeed! And constantly.
Last evening I enjoyed a lovely evening meal on, or in, a tiny roof terrace hosted by a sangha member and his wife. As the evening wore on the light dimmed to navy and the moon popped over the roof tops asking to be recorded. Thank you both so very much.