Desire. We all have it. So what do we do with it?
Is it a distraction from spiritual progress, to be surpressed and eradicated? An evil force keeping you trapped running on the hedonic treadmill, always reaching for more?
Does it matter what you desire?
Over the years, I've had an on again/off again type of love/hate affair with my desires. Sometimes I knew what I wanted so clearly that it was painful to ignore. Other times, the nebulousness of not knowing what I wanted, led to much wasted energy and resentment towards others.
But more painful than knowing and not listening, or just not being clear on what I desire, was the total disconnect from desiring anything. Total numbness. I'm not talking about contentment, where one is so satisfied she longs for nothing (contentment is appreciating every part of the journey, and the well spring from which desire bubbles up), but a complete withdrawal from life.
During chemotherapy and for quite some time after my treatments, I fell into a dark space of fearing life. I was afraid to trust myself, after having been let down with a cancer diagnosis. Afraid to trust my body, afraid to want anything, fearing that I might not live long enough to see it manifest, then die with with unsung songs and un-lived dreams. It would be less disappointing and excruciating, I thought, to just go on living without ever wanting anything.
That state, of being so disconneted from the energy of desire, was more than just depression, it felt like hell.
With time, deep inner work, and the help of many friends, family, teachers and guides from beyond, the fog started to lift. Something ignited inside me. I realized that if I was going to make it out alive, I had to want it. And with that, desire became my life force.
The will to live seems like a basic, built in mechanism to ensure the survival of our species. But as I moved along the spectrum from being terrified of life to really wanting to LIVE fully, I recognized that my desires came from a place deeper than my will, intellect or preferences. Desire, was the loving, intelligent, creative and genrative force pulling me forward, and energizing me from within. I started to see my desires as callings from my soul, helping me distill how to best utilize and enjoy my time on the planet.
Awakening to my desires, brought me back to life.
It was around that time, that I was finally drawn to Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map. I had been following and loved her work for a long time, but had a particular aversion to the desire map during my days of darkness. It can't be that simple, I thought, it was too new-agey and I was done with the whole 'you create your own reality' thing after having "created cancer". And I hadn't even read it!
So I when I finally did pick up the book, it was from a place of knowing that not only do my desires matter, they are why I AM here.
Follow desire back to it's source, my teacher Hareesh used to say. What he, Danielle, and many ancient tantric traditions are all pointing to, is the inherent, liberating, and self-actualizing power of desire. Rather than focusing on the external object or goal as the "thing" that you desire, they explain, see if you can identify what you think having that thing/person/experience will bring you. Most likely, you'll find that beneath the outer layer of what you want, is a deep longing to connect with a part of yourself, that you forgot was there all along.
Call it your soul, essence, the divine spark, is doesn't matter. What does matter, is that there is an intelligent, loving and creative force within you waiting to be seen, felt, and activated.
Your desires matter. The world needs your desires. That is why you are here.