Knowing this truth and doing something about it to end our suffering is something else again. Especially when the desire we have is something which comes from the heart … the desire to have friends, to have a loved one, to help others, to be surrounded by quiet, to grow our own food.
The problem is that when we pursue these Right desires, our ego-mind attaches to them and they become cravings. And so we suffer. It doesn’t matter that the source of the desire is skillful. It doesn’t matter how important it is to our inner fulfillment. If we cannot approach a desire with equanimity, if we cannot say, “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, that’s ok too,” we will suffer. We can’t be present, we can’t be grateful when we crave something we don’t have.
So if what is most important to us, to our soul, is peace and happiness, then one must accept that if we cannot find a way to approach the yearnings of our heart with equanimity, then we have to let go of those yearnings in order to be in a state of peace and happiness. There is no other way.
For most of my life, I was caught in this conundrum. Then one day when I was meditating, and I recited the mantra, “Breathing in, I’m aware that my life is exactly the way it is at this moment because it’s just the way it is; breathing out I release all unskillful desires and am happy and content, free of all frustration,” I realized that this does not go far enough.
My heart’s desires may be skillful, but they had been made unskillful because they had been transformed into cravings. And since I hadn’t been able to approach these desires with equanimity, I needed to let them go. I needed to release all desires. When I changed the mantra and recited “I release all desires” I felt like a burden was lifted from my shoulders. It was palpable.
Since that time, I have truly felt no desire. I accept my life as being exactly the way it is right now. I feel good about my life as it is and am grateful. I certainly still have an interest in having friends, in helping others, etc., and so I pursue those things. But since they are not desires, I have not attached to them and they have not been transformed into cravings.