The Power of Longing
A practice for welcoming desire
This is a gorgeous practice I recorded to go with my most recent written posts. In case you missed them, you can follow the trail backwards from here:
In this practice, we use the objects of our desires (people, places, things, experiences, qualities) as gateways into the actual felt experience of wanting. It’s not so much about what you want, as how it feels to want it. This is a crucial—and usually overlooked—difference, and it’s the heart of this approach.
Again, the object is just the cue, or the trigger, to connect with the basic energy of desire as you experience it. Any object can be a gateway into desire as a practice, so it doesn’t really matter what your specific want is. It can be anything. The point is the longing itself.
Longing is the core of mystery.
Longing itself brings the cure.
The only rule is, suffer the pain.
Your desire must be disciplined,
and what you want to happen
in time, sacrificed.
As always, I invite you to be gentle as you explore this terrain. Desires are really powerful, which is probably why our approach tends to fluctuate between: deny, repress, ignore, control, judge, shame, manipulate, and madly seek. What a wild ride! But the good news is you can befriend your desires and work with them, and that way you’ll have both inner freedom and access to that power in yourself.
Through your love
existence and nonexistence merge.
All opposites unite.
All that is profane
becomes sacred again.
As I was preparing this post, one more thought occured to me on the topic of desire, specifically about its relationship to creativity and knowledge. Desires are the fuel for the creation of everything—what we do in the world as well as how the world comes into being. This idea is so beautiful that I can’t help repeat it: the world exists because it wanted to come into being, it continues to exist because it longs to experience itself and be experienced. The world you see before you is continuously being born and reborn from the dance of consciousness and form—each constantly seeking the other as its twin, its Beloved. You are also made of these two forces, intimately entwined: being and knowing.
The light of consciousness illumines the world. The world reflects this splendor. Energy and matter, essence and manifestation, Reveal each other to each other. Individual soul and cosmic energy, Pulsing heart and infinite awareness— Are secret lovers, always merging in oneness. When the secret slips out, there is laughter And a flash of brilliance in the air. —Radiance Sutras 137-8
In Hinduism, the creative force belongs to Brahma, the first of the trinity of major gods. He is what brings everything into being (although he himself was born from the dreams of Vishnu, perhaps suggestive of the immense power of the subconscious in inspiring creativity).
The interesting point for me was that Brahma’s consort, his other half, is Saraswati—the goddess of knowledge, study and deep learning. In both Hinduism and tantric Buddhism, the gods do not and cannot exist without their consorts; they are two halves of a whole. Hinduism in this way entwines the impulse and ability to create (Brahma) with the knowledge of how to manifest and embody your true desires in the world (Saraswati). This is what I was talking about when I wrote that desire pairs with discernment.
The domain of the goddess Saraswati is art, literature, sciences, eloquent speech, and anything whose flow purifies the essence of a person. When I connect deeply with my desires, I experience a kind of energetic cleansing in the depths of my being. And subsequently a clearer ability to channel that flow out into the world through certain skills or tools, like words. I leave you with some magical words on this topic from my favourite meditation text:
Whenever a wanting moment comes, Celebrate the rising of desire As a sparkling impulse of energy Vibrating the body into motion. In a flash of knowing, When intelligence arises, Attend to this rising As the illumination of the Self. Desiring and knowing, Knowing and desiring... —Radiance Sutras 75
Opening yourself to desire is a wonderful gateway into being yourself more fully and naturally—to claim your space in the world and affirm your worthiness and your needs. So go for it! And let me know how it felt in the comments below.
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What was this experience worth to you? —an open question.
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