The Nature of Desire | iHanuman


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The Nature of Desire

Desire is not typically a very welcome concept in spiritual circles. In fact, most Eastern spiritual disciplines regard desire as the root cause of all suffering, observing that desire causes mental agitation as we think about what we want that we don't have. Desire therefore causes people to lose the peacefulness that they are searching for. Followers are taught to reject, suppress, or sublimate desire, and to take a more ascetic approach toward anything connected with the senses, because the senses pull us away from our inward focus toward oneness and peace.
However, the Tantric philosophy underlying Anusara has a totally different approach to the concept of desire. In fact, Tantric philosophy turns conventional spiritual thinking upside down in a way I have found to be the most life-affirming, uplifting, empowering, and radical of any philosophy I've ever studied!
Instead of declaring desire a problem, Tantra says "We ARE desire", and in fact there is no way that we can not be desire. Each of us, all the time, has a multitude of desires: from wanting to be a good parent to wanting to perform well at our job, from a desire to satisfy our appetite at dinner to a desire to enjoy and appreciate all our senses. Even taking the next breath arises from the desire of your cells (and you!) for oxygen!
Instead of rejecting desire, Tantric philosophy calls on us to radically affirm our desires! ... to fully embrace and engage our desires! This seems an extreme departure from other schools of thought, but it is not license to do anything one wants. Instead, Tantra suggests a 3-step process to fully engage ourselves:
First, recognize it; be authentic by fully accepting that you have desires, whatever they may be; don't deny them or reject them; allow them to be and allow yourself to feel your feelings about them.
Second, go inside and check in with yourself to determine whether it is appropriate to act on these desires; assess how they fit in with your other values.
Third, realize that you are free to choose your response, and in so choosing you are creating the quality of your life. Can you fulfill your inner most desire and also come into alignment with a broader purpose than just yourself? Can your desire be expressed as an aspect of Beauty?
For instance, are you choosing to have the greenest lawn on your street, regardless of what it does to the Bay? Or are you choosing to follow the new ordinances for fertilizer use? Are you making choices that benefit only yourself or that also benefit the larger community?
Most spiritual paths take the attitude that we are bound, and that we are trying to get free. However, the Tantric viewpoint embedded in the 3 steps is fundamentally and radically different. It assumes that we are already free and it's up to us to choose what we care enough about to bind ourselves to. What are you passionate about? What do you care about so much that you are willing to commit to it?
Anusara yoga opens our eyes to see the importance of honoring the gift of embodiment that each of us has been given. It reminds us that we have complete freedom to weave what we are passionate about into the very fabric of our being. In fact, Tantra would say that the whole point of life is to be the highest, most uplifting version of YOU that you can be & then share it!

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