Virtually everyone defines their identity-or constructs their belief of who they are-through their specific combination of desires and suffering. Or, desires obtained (apparent subjective success at the sacrifice of something else), desires unobtained (suffering), and desires still left as questions (to be obtained or not). And... most of the desires, and the suffering, are themselves by-products of others, established by society and the rules of each sect of society.
Buddha says this is how one should be - no desire, because all desires are futile. They are about the future; life is in the present. All desires distract you from the present, all desires distract you from life, all desires are destructive of life, all desires are postponements of life. Life is now and the desire takes you away, farther and farther away from now. And when we see that our life is misery we go on throwing the responsibility on others, and nobody is responsible except us.
Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God in the name of Christ, for such things as are agreeable to his will. It is an offering of our desires. Desires are the soul and life of prayer; words are but the body; now as the body without the soul is dead, so are prayers unless they are animated with our desires.
If you have desires, try to look - are those desires the cause of your misery? Nobody wants misery, but nobody is willing to drop the desires - and they are together, they cannot be separated. This is one of the greatest insights that has come from all the enlightened people in the world - that desire is the root of all misery, and desirelessness is the cause of all that is beautiful and blissful.
The body is there because the mind seeks desires through the body; desires cannot be fulfilled without the body. You can be completely fulfilled without the body, but desires cannot be fulfilled without the body. Desire needs the body; the body is the vehicle of desire. That's why possession happens. You have heard, you must have heard, many stories about a ghost possessing somebody else. Why is a ghost so interested in possessing somebody else? It is because of desires. Desires cannot be fulfilled without a body, so he enters somebody's body to fulfill his desires.
Our modern Western culture only recognises the first of these, freedom of desires. It then worships such a freedom by enshrining it at the forefront of national constituitions and bills of human rights. One can say that the underlying creed of most Western democracies is to protect their people's freedom to realise their desires, as far as this is possible. It is remarkable that in such countries people do not feel very free. The second kind of freedom, freedom from desires, is celebrated only in some religious communities. It celebrates contentment, peace that is free from desires.
Why do you dream? - because there are so many desires unfulfilled, and to live with unfulfilled desires is painful. In dream you try to fulfill them; in dream you create a false feeling of fulfillment. Hence your dreams show much about you: what your desires are, what you want to become. But if you want to become anything in life, you are asleep.
There are urges and urges; you are exploding with urges, desires. You don't have one desire, you have many desires. Not only that you have many desires, you have contradictory desires. If one is fulfilled, the other, which is its contradiction, remains unfulfilled and you are in misery. If the other is fulfilled, then something else remains unfulfilled.
If I want to free myself from endless cycles of struggling with temptation, I need to keep rediscovering that the pain of the struggle is greater than the pain of the desire. If I develop the habit of restraining myself, I'll enjoy the relief of feeling the desires pass, and I'll remember that desires are not the problem. Feeling pushed around by them is. I'll continue to have desires, of course, because I'm alive, but they'll be more modest in their demands.
When we love God in sincerity and with consistency, He gives us the desires of our heart. And as we love Him how we should be loving Him, our desires are somehow supernaturally conformed to be His desires for us! So, love God, with all that you are in all truth and devotion, and He will reward you according to His will. This is not something that we are capable of by ourselves, but God is faithful to give His chosen ones victory!
We all have to lead our own life, and we only have the one life, and the only people who can live life not according to their own desires are those who have no desires-which is the majority, actually. People can say what they like, they can speak of abnegation, sacrifice, generosity, acceptance, and resignation, but it's all false. The norm is for people to think that they desire whatever comes to them, whatever they achieve along the way or whatever is given to them-they have no preconceived desires.
We all have to lead our own life, and we only have the one life, and the only people who can live life not according to their own desires are those who have no desires--which is the majority, actually. People can say what they like, they can speak of abnegation, sacrifice, generosity, acceptance, and resignation, but it's all false. The norm is for people to think that they desire whatever comes to them, whatever they achieve along the way or whatever is given to them--they have no preconceived desires.
Christianity set itself the goal of fulfilling man's unattainable desires, but for that very reason ignored his attainable desires. By promising man eternal life, it deprived him of temporal life, by teaching him to trust in God's help it took away his trust in his own powers; by giving him faith in a better life in heaven, it destroyed his faith in a better life on earth and his striving to attain such a life. Christianity gave man what his imagination desires, but for that very reason failed to give him what he really and truly desires.
How do you listen? Do you listen with your projections, through your projection, through your ambitions, desires, fears, anxieties, through hearing only what you want to hear, only what will be satisfactory, what will gratify, what will give comfort, what will for the moment alleviate your suffering? If you listen through the screen of your desires, then you obviously listen to your own voice; you are listening to your own desires. And is there any other form of listening? Is it not important to find out how to listen not only to what is being said but to everything - to the noise in the streets, to the chatter of birds, to the noise of the tramcar, to the restless sea, to the voice of your husband, to your wife, to your friends, to the cry of a baby? Listening has importance only when on is not projecting one's own desires through which one listens. Can one put aside all these screens through which we listen, and really listen?
That is Buddha's meaning of nirvana: to be free from life and death, to be free from desire. The moment you are free from all desires... remember, I repeat, ALL desires. The so-called religious, spiritual desires are included in it, nothing is excluded. All desires have to be dropped because every desire brings frustration, misery, boredom. If you succeed it brings boredom; if you fail it brings despair. If you are after money there are only two possibilities: either you will fail or you will succeed. If you succeed you will be bored with money.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2 1517
Sometimes the word 'Desire' may leave you in a tizzy. Many of us are banking on this word to drive our life forward. These 'Desires' may be the single factor that guide and enrich your life. But, there's a trap. Surgeon Atul Gawande puts it like this in his book 'Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, 'When we have only our desires to guide us, and they are fleeting, capricious, and insatiable, they provide, ultimately, only torment.' So beware of 'Desires'. You need to redefine it in a way that makes your life to be endurable.