Back in the days when I was still in college and converting to Catholicism, I gathered the impression from my reading that I should deny all desires. Desire, or “craving” in Buddhist thought, was not only the root of all evil, it was evil itself. I dutifully disciplined myself to ignore anything I might like, and therefore desire. I was engaged in an experiment to see if squelching all desires would make me spiritual.
The answer was “No.” I didn’t become spiritual, but I did become stiff, wooden, unimaginative, and uncreative. Although my thinking mind was not impaired, my emotional capacity certainly was. My conclusion is that denying desire is turning off the flow of emotion and creativity.
Desire is necessary!
Desire is hardwired into our nature as human beings. The external objects of our desires will fade away and be replaced by others, but desire itself is always there. It is who we are. Desire, craving, is what motivates us in our life.
I thought I wanted to live in a nice, comfortable bubble. Good marriage, nice house, nice car, great children, vacations, everything “nice.”
I didn’t get what I thought wanted. I was miserable, but it was not because of my desire, it was because I was wanting the wrong things.
I felt the “craving,” but I didn’t understand what I truly wanted. Mistakenly, I believed that external objects or accomplishments were what I was after. I didn’t understand that my yearning was my Soul trying to speak to me. I had a hard time until I found Janet Conner.
Janet Conner (www.janetconner.com), is an author and spiritual teacher, has developed a course called, The Soul Wants Five Things. With Janet’s permission, here they are:
1. Connect with our Source
2. Commit to Values
3. Serve a purpose
4. Express Beauty
5. Create a Joyful Life
After reading Janet Conner’s books, I began to listen more attentively to my Soul desires, and gradually, “craving” became transformed into commitment to a purpose. My desires, instead of turning outwards toward externals, began to turn inwards towards the desires of my Soul. I discovered that seeking my Soul’s desires was the key to becoming spiritual, not denying all desires.
So, if you want to become more spiritual, put down the books and go deeper. Ask yourSelf, “What do I really want? You can do this anytime, anywhere.