Have you ever wanted something so very bad your whole body ached? I am talking about a desire so profound that it wraps itself around your heart… and squeezes. As we long for the fulfillment of that desire, a feeling of separateness from the desired thing often begins to form. And if that separateness is allowed to solidify, it can become literally heartbreaking.
I’ve felt that gulf between desire and outcome a lot lately. I’ve watched my country make decisions I don’t understand, the course I set for my business keeps taking unexpected turns, and several new relationships in my life are not panning out the way I had hoped. At times like these sometimes I just want... well, not to want.
In Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths are aimed at freeing ourselves from our desires in order to end our suffering. This makes so much sense - if I don’t want, I cannot be without, and I can’t be disappointed. Freedom! Oh to be free of wanting - how civilized that must be. To walk about the world with such contentment, such satisfaction with what is and watch all the shiny objects pass us by without the grip of desire!
Still, I can’t help but think that desire must have some function besides to torture us. Surely an energy so strong, and at times all-consuming must have a greater purpose?
Do Our Desires Evolve Us?
At a very basic level our desire for food, water, safety, and procreation keeps humanity going. Isn’t the purpose of all of life is to expand, evolve, to grow and spread? Maybe there’s a case to be made that what we desire will likely lead to our growth and expansion.
Could it be that we naturally long for things that will help us evolve? Having longed for a few “bad boys” and risky experiences in my day, I question this. But then again, the personal expansion that came from those experiences are undeniable. The more I lean into this, the more I am convinced: desire, regardless of the object or the outcome, can lead to transformation.
Do Our Desires Reveal Our Purpose?
Maybe we don’t have desires, we are our desires. In that case, if we run from our desires, we run from ourselves. I believe Spirit can talk to us through our desires, helping to reveal our true purpose. Do you?
A desire is anything but frivolous. It is the interface between you and that which is greater than you. No desire is meaningless or inconsequential. If it pulls you, even a little bit, it will take everyone higher. Desire is where the Divine lives, inside the inspiration of your desire. Every desire is of profound importance with huge consequences, and deserves your attention.
Do Our Desires Create Connection?
As an experiment, I started leaning into my desires. Not the images or visions I have of the end result, but the physical and energetic pull on my heart, the heat on my skin, the stretching of my soul as I reach. The desiring itself. When I stay there, I don’t feel pain or separation, but an increased intimacy with… me.
Buddhist teacher Tara Brach has said, “Longing, felt fully, carries us to belonging.” My desires shifted from a source of pain and separation to guideposts for deeper connection - to self, to others, to God/the universe/the force. The movement toward something reminds me that I am not alone. As I reach my hands out for what I want, I know that somewhere another is doing the same, and perhaps our fingertips shall meet. I desire for Emerging Women to be globally impactful - yes. But what I really want is to feel connected to women everywhere who are risking everything to live authentically for the good of the world. And in the simple act of desire, I already feel that powerful connection.
Do Our Desires Shape the World Around Us?
As women, we have a history of suppressing our desires. We may not speak up, we may not ask for what we need, we may avoid making waves and stay safe in the caretaking of others while neglecting our own wants. At Emerging Women Live 2015, Esther Perel said, “As women we need to own our wanting.” Damn straight, sisters. How can we expect the world to work in our favor if we don’t allow ourselves to want? What good is dreaming if we don’t infuse our visions with the catalytic fire of desire? To dare to want in the face of possible disappointment, shame, or guilt - now that is courage.
Thomas Merton said, “Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.” The world we live in is a result of the desire of men. It is paramount that we women step more fully into that which we desire - own it, live it, breath it - if we are going to create change in the world.
Here's what I desire: I desire a world that celebrates feminine leadership and exalts it to create healthy systems that are inclusive, compassionate, and fair. I desire meaningful relationships that are both intimate and impactful in the world. I desire increased connection to fast track a global consciousness that puts life at the center of everything we do. What do you desire? I want to know. Let's pool our desires and make it happen, sisters.