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Desire and the Empath

My meditation class meets every Sunday. It is a really beautiful mix of women. We are so different, but when they speak about their supposed failings and short comings, I see myself in their stories and their words.

One woman suffered a miscarriage last year and is now newly pregnant, but she can’t help but criticize her body’s appearance now that she is starting to show. Another woman’s husband left her and she is dealing with trying to tell her son and moving into her own apartment. There are ten of us, and we sit in the cream colored room of our instructor. The large window overlooks a park, and when the windows are cracked, you can hear the traffic noises and laughter of children. Our teacher talks to us about some salient topic that needs to be discussed. We listen, ask questions, take notes. When this is finished, we meditate and then discuss.

This week our topic was desire. At this point, I just want you to know I do not take any credit for the following ideas. They are a mishmash of pertinent points that I can recall. First, desire is apparently part of your ego. It causes us to want and grasp at things. This wanting and grasping becomes a thing in itself, and we are fueled by desire and believe that it can be satiated. Our egos would have us believe that this is possible. The Buddhists as well as other enlightened beings say otherwise. Desire is used by the ego to keep our minds busy and create suffering. We become unhappy when we do not get what we desire. When we do get what we desire, we create a never ending cycle. The desire fulfilled, we move on to the next object and the next and the next. This happens because it is not truly the object we want. We want the emotional high that is derived from getting that which we desire. For that emotion to continue, it must be fed. Desire creates the hunger that feeds the ego again and again.

I went home that night thinking about this concept. My own desires are many. They are powerful. That night I am on the couch dreaming about buying a new pair of boots. I need a pair of black boots, I think. I start to search through websites for affordable boots when I pause. This is it. This is desire. At this moment I made a choice. I was going to sit with this emotion. I would not judge it or myself for feeling it. I would allow myself the choice to still purchase the boots if I wanted to when all was said and done. So I sat and I allowed the desire to flood over me. I did not give it a story. I merely sat with the feeling. After a few minutes, I felt like I was stepping back. My desire seemed to me a large hamster wheel twirling in front of me. What a powerful feeling this is over something that is not even tangibly in front of me, I thought. What is that about? So I sat with those questions and no answer for a bit. Then I saw the hamster wheel begin to slow, and suddenly I realized that the whirling wheel appeared solid when it was moving, but now I could see the spaces between the bars. Yes, there was space. Glorious space all around the desire and I felt it all slowly dissipate. The desire was not about the boots at all. I knew suddenly that what was creating that feeling would not be dissuaded by a tall, black pair of boots.

This moment of clarity left me feeling tired and a bit stripped away. I felt like a piece of the illusion had been lifted. If all of this is true, then all must be connected and none of this is real.

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