“Trying to fulfill our desires is like carrying water to the sea; a never ending task and ultimately completely useless.” This Buddhist perception of attachment rings true to me as I have pursued many of my own ideas about what I want straight into the gates of frustration and misery.
But “What if your desires are holy?”, this is the question Rob Brezny asked last week. Normally I scroll thorugh the paragraphs of Rob’s writing in his newsletter and go straight to my horoscope (which is more entertainment than anything). I took a moment and read Rob’s excerpt from his book “Pronoia” on the subject of desire.
I have been doing some personal work on desire, attachment, and the inventory process. There is an artful balance between letting go of my self-limiting fixed ideas and diving into my deepest desires which feed my soul and benefit all. My evolving perception is best reflected in something Marianne Williamson has said many times “May I forgo the level of my appetite in order to receive my actual desire.”
The inventory process in recovery has taught me to be awake about my true nature...or at least rouse me from a deep sleep of denial. I have learned that I am not the sum of my mistakes and there is always an opportuntity to learn and grow. My messes are often the result of a good intention gone bad. "Creation gave us instincts for a purpose. Without them we wouldn't be complete human beings. If men and women didn't exert themselves to be secure in their person, made no effort to harvest food or construct shelter, there would be no survival. If they didn't reproduce, the earth wouldn't be populated. If there were no social instinct, if men cared nothing for the society of one another, there would be no society. So these desires...for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship...are perfectly necessary and right, are surely God-given." (AA Basic Text)
Nothing brings as much pain and misery as my own warped instincts or misguided appetites. The inventory process helps to identify warped instincts, develop awareness of my role in my misery, and heal the thing behind that warped instinct that creates my unhealthy compulsion and frees me to pursue my most sacred desires.
Psychologist Carl Jung believed that all desires have a sacred origin, no matter how odd they may seem. Frustration and ignorance may contort them into distorted caricatures, but it is always possible to locate the divine source from which they arose.
James Hillman echoes the theme: "Psychology regards all symptoms to be expressing the right thing in the wrong way." A preoccupation with porn or romance novels, for instance, may come to dominate a passionate person whose quest for love has degenerated into an obsession with images of love. "Follow the lead of your symptoms," Hillman suggests, "for there's usually a myth in the mess, and a mess is an expression of soul."
Taking a personal inventory is likened to a business taking inventory, to discover those things in stock that are unsaleable and rotate saleable goods to the front of the shelf. After reading Rob’s Pronoia essays I will also now think of this process as becoming a master of my desires.
"To become a master of desire, keep talking yourself out of being attached to trivial goals and keep talking yourself into being thrilled about the precious few goals that are really important. Here's another way to say it: Wean yourself from ego-driven desires and pour your libido into a longing for beauty, truth, goodness, justice, integrity, creativity, love, and an intimate relationship with the Wild Divine."
—Raye Sangfreud, "Black Market Orchids," Underground Pronoia
So, perhaps this process will help me become a person who is no slave to appetite but who honors their sacred desires.