2021-02-07 Intimacy and Desire
6:44PM Feb 7, 2021
So what I'd like to consider and explore for this talk is some aspects of desire. As I've said before, I think that the more proper term for human beings would be human desirelings, because they're so desires, part and parcel and intimately connected to human life. And there's no life, human life without desire, that we're going to suppose to get rid of desire, have no desires, is unrealistic. But be to become wise about desire, is one of the task of Buddhism, and to learn how to be free of desires, free from the desires, not that they're gone, but we're not caught in them, and we have freedom in relationship to them. And so the So, in order to become wise about desire, it helps to become intimate with desire. And as I said, a while ago, that if you want wisdom, cultivate intimacy. And there's some something some aspect of intimacy, some way of being intimate, that touches in and brings us to the place where wisdom has a chance to operate. And so if you want to be wise about desire, be intimate with desire. And to explore this topic, I want to talk about a subclass of mental movements in the family of desire. And at the end, start talking about the outermost, and the most abstract abstract in a sense to that which gets closer and closer to something as more and more intimate inside. And so perhaps this talk, it would be a little bit of a journey from outward to inward to what's innermost. So maybe he'll follow along, and maybe you can imagine or feel, what I'm talking about, and how it works for you. giving me a little bit of the, maybe the benefit of the doubt, or a little bit of the focusing on what I say that might be relevant for you, or what you could identify with, or recognizing yourself. And certainly some of the things I say you might have aspects of it that you disagree with. But on this journey, it might be better for now, to just kind of find recognize in yourself, now Yeah, I know that this way. So this journey, exploring desire has to do with three parts. It has to do with what we desire. Why, then why we desire and how we desire. So what, what, why and how. And, and so, the aspect of this is to have a goal, desires usually have a goal, something we want something we want to accomplish, something we want to do. And in goal, having a goal is an important part of life. And people have all kinds of goals that they want to accomplish. But a goal in my vocabulary is a what it's the the purpose of the desire. It's the what, what we want to get what we want to see happen. We use the word what to describe, what is the goal? You might ask them? And what is the what is the purpose or what's the goal? And so for example, he, as I did this morning, you might go shopping for a relative for food, and the goal was to go shopping. And so you know, what are you up to, I'm going shopping and going to the store, and the fact that I was able to go to the store and buy what I needed to do. And so I accomplish the goal. And, but you know, that's the it's the talking about it that way, it's somewhat removed. For me, it's somewhat abstract, it's outside of me, shopping is outside of me, in a sense, the goal should be buying something from my relative. So you know, it's a worthy goal. But it's kind of you don't really learn anything about myself except that I was going to do this task.
And so we can also ask, why am I doing it. And so the Y has to do with a purpose. And when we start talking about purpose, we're talking about something that's maybe a little bit closer and more intimate, more integral to who we are than just the goal. And, and so the purpose, maybe for going shopping, was, my relative is sick, and I needed to get I wanted to get, I was asked to get something to support her in her time of illness. And so the purpose was to support and offer aid to a relative who is ill. And so, so you would, if I just said it, my purpose was to go by X, Y, and Z, you wouldn't? You know, that's the goal, you wouldn't really understand the purpose, but you didn't the purpose. Oh, now we're understanding something about maybe what was motivating Gil, and what's happening here? And, and, and then you could ask deeper, but why are you doing that? And you keep asking the question why? And in a certain kind of way that goes through layers and layers inside? You guys. Well, why are you doing that? Oh, because I care for my relative, I love my relative. And, and so it's out of my care. That's, that's why I'm doing it. And so now you know, something deeper about me or us kind of going in closer and closer in? And so you could ask, what's the purpose? And it's really useful not to answer it with just one answer. If you have a desire to ask, what is the purpose of why would I say what I'm going to say? Why I want to say what I would say? Or what is the purpose of this activity I'm doing? What's the purpose of this way of thinking? How often do you ask yourself? Why am I thinking this way? What purpose does it fulfill? And then, even if you get an answer one answer, ask again, ask again, because there might be multiple reasons, multiple motivations, inside purposes we're trying to accomplish? And, and then, or you might ask more of a secondary one, you might have one answer, you know, why? Why are you shopping? Because I'm shopping in order to support a relative? But why do you want to support a relative? Because I care for the relative the relative is sick? and and you know, and why do you care for a relative? And why do you want to support a relative? Because it just, it's the kind of heartfelt wish, of course, I would do that. And, and so you keep asking, and you can get deeper and deeper questions it takes you on a journey can take your journey to becoming more intimate and deeper, and just have the logical answers being the only answer. The first answer only one, it might miss something. of the bigger picture, or the intimate picture or something and what's going on. So that there's the purpose, and then deeper than the purpose, there is the how are we? How are we when we're doing something? And the question how implies I think always brings us into the least of my vocabulary? In this question always brings us into the, the activity itself. The not except, you know, kind of like into the present moment, the action how we're doing it, is how we embody it, how we go forth with it. And where its purpose is little bit, you know, abstract, a little bit removed from, you know, can be a little bit removed or something it's inner. But when you talked about how it read to kind of really comes closer, and and so how am I doing it? Am I doing it in a hurry? Am I doing it slowly? Am I doing it with resentment? Am I doing it with delight and joy with generosity? How are we doing it? And, and are you doing it in, you know, trying to do the minimum you can or you're trying to do more than you can? So there's all these questions about how and so how do I go to the store in the morning to go shopping. So, part of it is with care. Part of it was certain delight was early in the morning and and it was quiet and calm time to be going. And it was also
was going with with the feeling of you know, certain kind of good feeling about knowing that I could do something for my relative and was happy to do so. So and then. And then being in the store and a few other shops. First there, there was the clerk there early enough, there's just one. And, and, and how I was there, I was happy there with, you know, you know, trying to be have a human connection with the person at the counter in spite of the masks that we were wearing. And, and. And, you know, so how was you know trying to be friendly trying to have goodwill tried to be connected to the whole situation that was in? And so how but how it goes deeper and deeper? You know? So, really how were you this way? Are you that way? And, and now we come which deeper in maybe then the question, you know, related to how is the attitudes that we have. So, you know, I could have done something how it could have done fast or slow. But then how I did it, the what attitude went with going as fast maybe it was, the attitude of being fast was that I was impatient. Maybe the attitude of was, I was overly eager, really wanted to do something. So I'm really rushing because of my strong desire, maybe even greed. Or maybe I'm slow because I just really enjoy it. I like being present and being the experience fully. Or maybe I'm slow because I resent doing it. And and I you hesitate and I'm not really putting myself into it. I'm dragging my feet. So there's attitudes that now attitudes were coming in more intimate, more closer down, deeper down? What are the attitudes we carry? What is the mood of the mind? What's the attitude that the heart has the mind has? And are those attitudes attitudes of the moment? Or are they part of our character, a core part of how we've cultivated and how we live the the patterns of mind and thoughts and beliefs and emotions that characterize how we've chosen to live our life. And, and different from personality, which maybe we don't have much choice about that. But character, we have some choice has been shaped by either by society and events and experiences of our life. But also has been shaped by that all that small and big choices we've made about what kind of thoughts to emphasize what kind desires to emphasize what kind of ill will to emphasize what the habits are that we building up of behavior and ways of being. And these all contribute to ongoing attitudes that we carry with us. And so now we're talking about something that can be really deep. And these attitudes sometimes can be subliminal or not obvious to us all the time, they can start becoming invisible to us because we carry them with them all the time. But to sit in meditation, and get quiet, and start seeing when I get quiet and intimate with myself, what in some deeper way are the underlying deeper attitudes that are operating for me, and how might those attitudes relate to the desires I have, and how I pursue those desires. And the deeper deeper we go in Buddhism, and you might not agree with this, but in Buddhism, it's considered to be three fundamental, unhelpful unwholesome roots, for our attitudes, and three wholesome ones. And all wholesome beneficial impulses come out of these three roots, the wholesome roots, and all the things which are unhelpful, harmful, that we do for others or things that are unhealthy, unhealthy. Derived from these three unwholesome roots. The unwholesome roots, is usually translated in English is either craving or greed. Some occasionally, too strong another word in Pali, that maybe is closer to lust, but strong desire, you know that somehow there's a contraction. There's a loss of freedom. In the movement, it's kind of unwholesome, there's some kind of maybe selfishness involved connected to it. Maybe there's an overriding of wisdom that goes into it with greed. And so the other unwholesome route is, ill will.
And often when English we say the word aversion for this, but it could also be more dramatic, it could be hostility, so it's very mild, or it can be very strong. And but there can be an underlying momentum, movement, attitude, mood, of aversion, of hostility, of pushing away not wanting, that if that's the seed the root for behavior, it tends to be behavior which expresses that it will end in forms of hostility and aggression. causes all kinds of difficulty. And that can be towards oneself or towards others. And the third unwholesome attitude is root attitude is delusion confusion, where we're just confused in a sea of not knowing and doubt and uncertainty and, and not making sense of things and jumping around in different ideas and not settling on anything. And when there's confusion and delusion, then it's easier for greed. We're not connected to wisdom. There's no wisdom in that no clarity. And so that tends to then support more greed, and more ill will, the healthy attitudes and our generosity, goodwill, and wisdom. And so generosity is this feeling that, that openness and availability and open handedness, open heartedness. That's a spirit of kind of being both open to the world around us. But also, I want to use the word manifest, manifesting actualizing. For them something for the world. It's a movement, which is connected to wisdom, and makes room for wisdom, a closed hand, is not open to experience something in the palm of the hand. But if we open the pan, then we can experience something in the palm. You can be stroked by someone, for example, we can clean the palm, we can clean it, if it's closed. So same thing with a heart or the mind with greed, something closes down, generosity, something opens, and it's available for wisdom available to be cleaned. And then goodwill, instead of ill will, is also this opening movement, something that liberates us it frees something inside, it frees us from the contraction, the closeness, of, of, of what goes on for us. So I got distracted because I saw this this somebody right no Bell, I guess I didn't ring the bell tend to sitting did I? So maybe Nobel, no end. And so, so ill. So goodwill, and then wisdom and wisdom also itself is an opening movement. Because one of the primary forms of wisdom is not the wisdom of not clinging, the wisdom of not suffering, the wisdom of non harming. So, these are think of these as attitudes then, do we go about with an attitude of generosity and an attitude of goodwill, an attitude of wisdom, attitude of discernment of seeing clearly? Or do we have an attitude that somehow closes wisdom limits wisdom? And so is it greed? Is it ill will? is a delusion? And? And so? Or is it fear that somehow is connected to those three? It's fascinating that fear that's unhealthy, has considered because has to be rooted in either greed, ill will or delusion. So how does that work? And is there a different kind of fear that's rooted in generosity and goodwill, or love and wisdom? I think there is. That's why fear doesn't fit in either doesn't have place to just one or the other. It's just the unwholesome or just a wholesome, but it depends on the roots that support the fear. So attitude, so. So attitude is more intimate than the goal. Attitude brings us into something close into what's innermost, and what makes us tick and what influences us and influences how we see the world and how we see ourselves and to sit in meditation or other ways of beginning to find no deep, you know, being defined the underlying attitudes and dispositions in which we operate in
and to learn how to not be caught by them, not be caught not being limited by them not be closed by the unhealthy ones, beginning to open and open and open. And my sense is that the unwholesome roots of greed, hate and delusion, they themselves are not what's most innermost. They themselves are a little bit more surfacey and as those Follow away. And as we keep opening, generosity, love, goodwill, and wisdom they belong to that which is most innermost, most sensitive, maybe most shy, at times, most tender, most, maybe most quiet. And so it's only by getting quiet or settled or intimate, and willing to have a certain tenderness that these generosity and, and goodwill, and wisdom really can shine and be part of our life. So, certainly, we can have goals, we can have purposes, we can focus on how we are. But don't get, don't be too caught up in the goal. Don't be too caught up in the purposes. Pay attention to how you do things. It's a huge key and important part of mindfulness practice. And as you pay attention to the how, at some point come in and really begin discerning what are the underlying the deeper attitudes which are fueling or influencing how we're going about our life. And they're in those attitudes, is where you can start discovering freedom. It's when the attitudes become free, then the desires that flow for them are free as all as well. And we become free. So that when we have desires, of generosity of goodwill, and wisdom, then hopefully, then we have a sense of how to remain free with those four attitudes to contain freedom. So our desires can be free, so that our purposes can have qualities of freedom, and the goals can be intimately involved with freedom as well. So I hope that this has given you something to think about and exploring yourself and some questions to ask yourself as you go about questions about why, what, of why, and how, and take the how question and go as deep in as you can you come to you. If you can see if you can find the underlying deeper attitudes, dispositions that animate your life and see if you could switch to be more and more. Have those attitudes. Be the wholesome roots. May that journey of exploration be empowering and freeing for you. Thank you