Something that has been coming up a lot lately is the importance of desires. Why is it we put such importance on our desires? What measures do we go to to achieve these desires? Is there an alternative way of approaching desire, one that doesn’t leave us face to face with the unhappiness we experience when our desires are not fulfilled? These are just a few questions that come to mind when considering my own desires.
To begin with, I believe we put such importance on our desires due to the effects social conditioning has had on the dynamics of our culture. A culture that is solely based on consumption and the idea that this consumption generates happiness. So what is it that we are likely to desire in this cultural dynamic? A new car, new house, new partner, new job? This is all well and good, but again, why is it that we put such importance on these desires, as if what we already have isn’t good enough, which as I said before, is likely due to the effects of social conditioning. Does that mean we are conditioned to feel inadequate, like we are not good enough, like we need to improve ourselves and the way to do this, as advertisement so regularly suggests, is to desire new things or relationships with others.
This is seemingly unavoidable as we are born into this cultural narrative, meaning we are conditioned from a very young age to desire the things we haven’t got. How far are we willing to go to satisfy these desires, what extremities must we endure to achieve the desired outcome, whatever that might be? I met a guy once who continued working a job for over two years, where he would have a panic attack most days at work as he absolutely hated the job, just so he could upkeep his social image, his car, his apartment, his television etc. He was so conditioned to believe that all of these external projections of his social status were absolutely essential to his happiness and feeling successful based on these material objects. Although this is absolutely insane, it is something I have been subject to in the past myself. That may seem to be an extreme example, however, it is a very real scenario in which people face in today’s society. Ready for the paradox of all of this, we endure unhappiness to achieve happiness?
Now we can ask, is there an alternative approach to achieving our desires? Do we actually already have everything we need contained in our bags of skin as Alan Watts so rightly describes us? If so, how do we bypass our desires and access this abundant happiness?
The alternative approach to our desires is to let go of them completely, or at least letting go of the importance of them. A part of the conditioning is that we place such importance on our desires and we become so attached to the perceived outcome that we end up in the paradox described above. Something that is not practised much in the Western world is the power of detachment, not just the detachment to our material world in a physical sense but more importantly, the detachment of the ideas we formulate in our minds of how we can be happy within a material world. It is the attachment to these ideas that lead us in to the undesirable paradox. Happiness is an emotion, energy in motion, it will only ever be temporary, this is a huge part of the human condition.
The way around the human condition, that is to identify with our experience and label all that comes to pass is to begin a regular practise of stillness, of silence, of meditation. I am not claiming to be an expert in this field, but I do know from experience that when we regularly enter this space of awareness we bring ourselves back down into our true selves, the way God intended for us to be. It is in this place we can begin making informed decisions that are centred in our hearts, and not our heads. When we make our primary objective to commune with God in the silence of our hearts, we naturally let go of all of our other desires entirely. It is not to say we cannot still pursue our desires, instead we begin doing so from a much calmer and accepting place, a place that has transcended mind, a place that does not place such importance in the pursuit. This happens as we become aware of the ultimate truth, God has provided us with all that we need to survive in unity with one another, a unity that only exists when we all live from our hearts, and not our heads.
We would all agree that living in unity with one another is the most desirable outcome for all who are graced to live in this beautiful world, so let us all rejoice in letting go and detaching ourselves from our desires and allow our hearts to take the steering wheels of our lives. Allow them to steer us back into The Kingdom of God. Amen