June 14, 2012

Constant Desire & Dissatisfaction. ~ Eric Vogt

Photo credit: Dennis Brekke

“Life is nothing but our constant desire to live and our constant dissatisfaction with living.” ~ Anonymous

Two contrasting ideas both rooted in self-absorption and ego.

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” ~ John Lennon

What is constant desire to live?

Desire is considered poisonous in Buddhism.

In the Sunakkhatta Sutta it says:

“Craving is said by the contemplative to be an arrow. The poison of ignorance spreads its toxin through desire, passion and ill will.”

Hey, Snooki has a desire to live, even cockroaches have a desire to live, but it is vastly different from say a person who is fighting terminal illness or someone who is busting their tail at two jobs so they can finish school and get a degree.

So the desire to live in and of itself isn’t necessarily detrimental, but it’s about “how” to express that desire. How do you manifest it?

For me, it’s about asking, “What does life want from me?”, rather than, “What do I want out of life?” How do I present my life as a gift? What is the desire to live compared with just living?

We complicate it with craving.


We tend to think of life as something separate from ourselves, there is “me” plus everything else.

“Do not imagine that you are separate from all other beings.” ~ Tenshin Reb Anderson

So when are we dissatisfied?

When things don’t go our way.

When we don’t get our desired outcome.

We want to control people, situations, the weather—the reality is we have no control over most things in life.

But we think we should, because if we get our way then we would surely be happy and content.



Suzuki Roshi used the phrase, “things as it is”.

According to his student Edward Espe Brown, it may have been an unintentional slip of the tongue, but perhaps more accurate: interconnectedness, how the oneness of things and the multiplicity of things coexist.

Or, as more commonly heard in 12-step programs, “it is what it is.”

This has an entirely different slant: acceptance of what is—an apple ain’t an orange and wanting something or someone to be other than their true nature is a delusion.

We must be careful with our expectations of living, we must first see clearly—see what it is, accept and be with it before an appropriate action is taken.

“First be, then do and achieve.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Be Here Now

“All human problems arise from this extraordinarily complex, living center which is the ‘me’ and a being who would uncover its subtle ways has to be aware, choicelessly observant.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

So, do not get caught between these extremes of self-absorption.

Keep an even keel and remain aware.

Give yourself permission to relax and be patient; each moment has a beginning, middle and an end.

Look within, trust and allow situations to unfold naturally of their own accord and need. It’s perfectly okay if your desires are not fulfilled and you are not satisfied.

This would be a good place to quote the Rolling Stones again because they weren’t satisfied:

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”

Eric Vogt practices Buddhist meditation and studies Vajrayana, Soto Zen, & Theravada. He is a musician, drum circle facilitator, Kirtan enthusiast, songwriter and ASCAP member. He has lived in London, New York City, Chicago and Cleveland. He enjoys yoga, Tai Chi, reading (real books), quote-mongering (“A smattering of everything, and a knowledge of nothing.” ~ Charles Dickens), reverent irreverence, voluntary simplicity, poetry, biking, being walked by his dog and food, especially all things curry. He likes this quote from Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field, I will meet you there—but I don’t have GPS, so I might be late…or I might not even find it. And there might be sheep in the field because I understand it’s somewhere in Wales…but anyway, save me a cookie.”

Editor: Jamie Morgan

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