February 18, 2016

The Nature of Desire.

Author's own (Emily Lau)

Close your eyes and think of something you desire.

Really focus in on what it is you want, whether it be a person, an outcome or a situation, a feeling, or a thing and bring it to the forefront of your mind. It could be anything from finding your soulmate to buying a new house, losing weight, achieving enlightenment, or eating chocolate ice cream for dessert.

Now, imagine what it is like to have it.

Feel what it’s like to finally have that relationship or that career or that vacation or that fat bonus. What does it feel like? Take a moment—go ahead—really close your eyes and tune in.

If you’re really listening and able to be fully honest with yourself, instead of making us feel happy and fulfilled, this desiring evokes a great sadness. It makes us ache and feel an emptiness that is our perceived lack. It causes us to suffer.

The nature of desire is that it keeps us bound. Desire conjures up a solution to all the problems we think we have and makes false promises of bringing us happiness, contentment, excitement, and wholeness–when we get there. 

Think of the last time you got what you thought you wanted. Maybe it was a new relationship.

At first it was unreal: the chemistry flowed, the sex was mind-blowing, and every day was an adventure filled with love and laughter. You thought he was the one or she was the girl you’d marry. Then, you find out he’s an a*shole and she breaks your heart.

Desire promises that what you think will make you happy will also, 10 out of 10 times, be able to take it away from you. If you have been pouring your hopes of fulfillment into something outside of yourself, you stand the risk of losing it. In fact, it’s inevitable—you will lose it.

So whether you desire a better body, a more attractive mate, a higher paying job, more financial stability, more time to travel, more knowledge, cuter clothes, better friends, more self-confidence, self-discipline, creativity, or whatever, know that wanting these things actually does the opposite of filling you up. It’s the longing for these things that makes us so miserable.

But we are so attached to our desires. It’s largely what makes us who we are. Who would I be without my preferences, passions, hopes, and dreams? How would my life continue? Would I even bother getting out of bed?

And this is the great adventure we are invited to embark on—to acknowledge that deep down, past every other desire we can possibly think of, what we all want is in fact universal: peace, love, happiness, joy, contentment and freedom.

I dare you to dive into your desires and inquire into what it will give you. Ask yourself:

What do I want?

I want to meet my soulmate, get married, have beautiful biracial babies, and be kick-a*s parents to the coolest kiddos ever and live out the rest of my life with my best friend.

or even

Greater awareness. To be a spiritual guru. To bring all interconnected beings to liberation.

What will this give me?

An awesome life, everything I’ve ever wanted, a partner, security, the opportunity to be a mother and start a family.


A purpose.

And what will that give me?

Love. Happiness. Joy. Contentment. Fulfillment. Peace.

So why do I want these things?

To be happy, loved and at peace.

If we are willing to inquire into any of our desires (fully), we will find that at the root of every wanting is the need for peace and happiness. Who doesn’t want these things?

When we can admit this to ourselves, desire becomes very powerful. It becomes our commitment to the very things within us that we think we are without. If we are willing to meet our desires in that place of lack and achy suffering, instead of emptiness, we discover a great buoyancy. In the very things you desire is a part of your True Nature that you have hidden from yourself. So if you’re looking for love, you are love.

But beyond the platitudes and clichéd notions of “being love” and “being whole,” we must know this with unwavering certainty. We can embrace our desire for peace, love, (and contentment) and be devoted to that.

This wisdom comes to us at a very visceral level. When we can truly admit that the very thing we desire is who we are, then we can rest. We sit a little taller. Our bodies relax. We can finally stop reaching for and extend instead. We are free, already.

We’ve arrived. 


Author: Emily Lau

Editor: Caitlin Oriel 

Photo: Author’s own // Alex Martinez/Unsplash

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