Do you desire desirelessness? Some do. Desire is the root of suffering. We want what we want. When we don’t have it, we feel pain and experience dis-ease. If things don’t go the way we want, we are disappointed and depressed. If we could just stop wanting, the pain would go away, right?
But does this mean that we stop striving? We stop making goals? I say no. Desire is the thing that makes life meaningful. It is what creates growth. It is what solves problems and leads to discoveries. What if I saw an injustice and just said to myself, “Ah, well. I have no thoughts or feelings about that. It is what it is.” Do I elevate myself by allowing injustice to go unchecked?
Of course not. To feel alive you must care. To grow you must have goals and strive. But doesn’t that just lead to more pain and suffering? No, not if you focus on doing things for the experience of it, not the outcome.
You see, we think we want that new car, that prestigious job, or that beautiful woman. What we really want is the feeling that we have when we experience something new, achieve something, or are excited. When you reach a goal, you’ve arrived. The striving goes away. So in order to have that feeling again, you have to strive some more. So, it’s not really the thing we are after, but the feeling.
If you could have that feeling, it wouldn’t matter if you reached the goal line or not, right? So, why not go for that?
The people of the Andes have a guideline for that. They say that life is for developing wisdom and practicing love and service. I think those are pretty useful guidelines. What can you want that can’t be achieved by living your life in that way?
If you want love, you cultivate it by giving it away. The problem comes when you desire that it be returned. When it’s not, we get upset and feel deflated. So, stop desiring the outcome. Give love for the sake of giving. The universe returns what we give out, so as long as your love isn’t conditional, it will come back to you.
Do you want appreciation? Appreciate others without the agenda of getting it in return. Life is reciprocal. When we cultivate appreciation in our family and social circles, we teach appreciation. We receive gratitude.
How about stability or safety? When you are of service (meaning you have a job), you get paid. It doesn’t really matter what the job is or how much the pay is. If you manage your life so that you spend less than you bring in, you will be stable. If you think about what you think you should be getting, you will ruin your peace of mind. Focus on what is effective.
A lot of us think we need this huge, lavish lifestyle. We really don’t. If you were like me, you can look back on your childhood and see how much less “stuff” you had, but you were probably still just as content, if not more so. That’s the practice of wisdom.
Do you see how living in wisdom, love, and service makes it so that there is nothing to want? Since we really want the outcome of material things and relationships, we don’t have to strive for them. If we live a mindful life following these ideas, emotional contentment will follow.
Wait! You say. I really want that million dollars! Okay. That’s fine. You can strive for that if you like. I think you will find that once you get it, you’ll want two, then three because what you hope to achieve from that isn’t the money or the stuff, but the feeling that you are enough. You ARE enough. You don’t have to break your neck to learn that. It’s just about acceptance.
However, if desiring desirelessness becomes a goal, it will become the trap you seek to avoid. So just be. When you’re in a state of mindfulness, there is nothing to want. The moment is so full of possibility that choices are abundant. Live there. You don’t have to prove anything to yourself – least of all that you are free from desire.
Go for what you want. Let go of the outcome. Enjoy what shows up. Look for the lessons in it. Continue growing, and you will have the most fabulous life.