I reached in experience the Nirvana which is unborn, unrivalled, secure from attachment, undecaying and unstained. This condition is indeed reached by me which is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, tranquil, excellent, beyond the reach of mere logic, subtle, and to be realized only by the wise.
~The Buddha, on attaining enlightenment
The Buddha is sometimes quoted as saying that desire is suffering. A more accurate translation is that selfish desire is suffering – in fact, the source of all suffering. But desire itself is simply power, neither good nor bad.
Without the tremendous power of desire, there can be no progress on the spiritual path; there can be no progress anywhere. The whole secret of spiritual transformation is turning selfish desire into selfless desire, transforming personal passions into the overwhelming desire to attain life’s highest goal. This is not repression; it is transformation.
I’m starting to feel that I’m not really writing blog posts at all. More I’m just cribbing off someone else’s notes. Even worse, writing about Eknath who is in turn writing about the Buddha can start to feel like academic literary commentary: “Believe you me, I have something utterly profound to say about Russell’s review of Coleridge’s essay on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night!”
Well, anyways. The note I wanted to make for myself was that right now, where I’m at, I don’t feel like I have much desire at all. The desires I used to have – to be a millionaire, with plenty of status, and well-liked too – don’t have much pull on me anymore. But new desires for selflessness and service and enlightenment haven’t yet sprung up in their place. I just figured they would come naturally once I quit lurching after success. Now I suppose they need to be cultivated and practiced like anything else.
The one desire I do have right now, though, is that the way I feel now will simply be a lull; a transitional phase between old desires and new. I’m picturing a yo-yo that right at the bottom of it’s throw stops just for a moment before coming back up. Hopefully this current stopping of desires will be temporary at worst.