Thus being forever without desire,
you look deeply into the transcendent.
By constantly harboring desire,
your vision is beset by all the things around you.
Tao Te Ching
Your vision is beset by all the things around you…
Desires that are fed, only grow hungrier. Desire puts our gaze forever on the horizon, robbing us of what we’ve actually been given. In a state of desire, we can’t focus on where we are, only on what we plan to attain.
When we “harbor” desires, the world becomes full of things to desire, and these desires frame our lives.
I haven’t owned a car in awhile, and never paid much attention to different models on the road. After leasing my car, I see models similar to mine everywhere. I’ve tuned into the car “channel.” Now I see drivers with my car, as well as drivers with the bigger better model. “Maybe next time I should get that car, with those options…”
Indulgence of desire sheds light on a million other things we should be desiring, each of them perfect until they’re attained.
This view is echoed in one of the Bodhisattva Vows:
Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to end them
Answering desire changes the way we see everything in the world.
You look deeply into the transcendent.
By contrast, when we free ourselves from desire, we see things as they are. We no longer see things to attain or possess, we see things to experience and enjoy.
And by seeing what we have for the first time, we transcend a common trap keeping us from the state of happiness we hope to achieve by our constant planning to fulfill desire. We can stop deferring happiness.
The ordinary and boring (ordinary and boring because we have it) is the doorway to the transcendent.
To act independent from desire is to act with integrity.
Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, verse 47:
Your right is to action alone, never its fruit.
For those of us unlikely to become ascetics, perhaps the goal is to curate desire in a mindful way.
Mindlessly flinging ourselves at desires is a recipe for an unpleasant journey down the rabbit hole, but can some desire be good?
Can we live with mindful desire (goals), without living as slaves to our desires? Is it possible to curate useful desire, while discarding unconscious desire?