In almost all spiritual traditions, desire is seen as an impediment to happiness, the cause of suffering and illusion. Giving up desire is extolled to such a degree; it feels that enlightenment is nothing but achieving the state of desirelessness. But not wanting any desires, isn’t that a desire in itself?
I desire to become desireless. Isn’t this the grandest desire?
Every desire has a reward at the end of it. So ultimately, my being desireless equates to this: I tried fulfilling myself with desire, but since that didn’t work out, let me see if I can fulfill myself with desirelessness.
Take the example of Clare (name changed). Clare has been frustrated, miserable and unhappy with her material way of life. But she goes to an enlightened wise master who promises a state wherein there is peace, bliss and all her problems will finally melt away. To top it all that state is permanent. So she now desires to reach that state, the ending of all problems, the state of enlightenment or Nirvana. To reach this state, she has to practice being desireless, as desire is the root of all suffering. And therein lies the trap.
It would be ironic if it wasn’t tragic enough to have kept seekers running in circles for years. Wanting a particular state of mind, be it desireless or becoming insanely rich, amounts to the same thing, moving away from what is. It’s an escape into a fantasy land. Every want is a movement from what is to what can be. Acceptance of the now and understanding that you are pure awareness can open the doors to profound wisdom and bliss.
I struggled with the concept of desirelessness for many years, trying to live a basic life, denying myself simple pleasures, hoping to find the ultimate state of enlightenment. Then one day, it suddenly dawned on me.
Desire has to be understood. Not shunned. Not repressed.
You have to be aware of it, without acceptance or rejection. The silent observation of desire is like an explosion into eternity. Life is in the here and now. I was looking too far away, into the non-existent realms of desirelessness. In that very moment the conditioning of years came crumbing down. There was no more wanting to be desireless and no more wanting desires. With understanding comes peace.
Life is simple now. The division between “a better future” and present has dissolved. The present is the “blissful enlightened future” I was looking for. In this wonderful present awareness everything dissolves and only silence remains.