Don't suppress desire, understand it
It’s not that you have to suppress desire, because then you would become lifeless. You’d be without energy and that would be terrible. Desire in the healthy sense of the word is energy, and the more energy we have, the better. But don’t suppress desire, understand it. Don’t seek to fulfill desire so much as to understand desire. And don’t just renounce the objects of your desire, understand them; see them in their true light. See them for what they are really worth. Because if you just suppress your desire, and you attempt to renounce the object of your desire, you are likely to be tied to it. But, if you look at it
and see it for what it is really is, if you understand how you are setting yourself up for misery and disappointment and depression, your desire will be transformed into a preference.
When you go through life with preferences but don’t let your happiness depend on
any one of them, then you’re awake. You’re in the state of non-delusion, where you see things not as you are but as they are. Every time you are unhappy, you have added something to reality. It is that addition that makes you unhappy. You have added something... a negative reaction in you. Reality provides the stimulus, you provide the reaction. You have added something by your reaction. And if you examine what you have added, there is always an illusion there, a demand, an expectation, a craving.
For instance, the illusion, the error of thinking that, by changing the exterior world, you will change. You do not change if you merely change your exterior world. If you get yourself a new job or a new spouse or a new home or a new guru or a new spirituality, that does not change you. Do you change your handwriting by changing your pen? Or your ability to think by changing your hat. That doesn’t change you really, but most people spend all their energies trying to rearrange their exterior world to suit their tastes. Sometimes they succeed—for about five minutes, but they are tense, because life is always flowing, life is always changing.
So if you want to live, you must have no permanent abode. You must have no place
to rest your head. You have to flow with it. As Confucius said, “The one who would be constant in happiness must frequently change.” Flow. But we keep looking back, don’t we? We cling to things in the past and cling to things in the present. “When you set your hand to the plow, you cannot look back.” Do you want to enjoy a song? Don’t hold on to a few bars of the music. Don’t hold on to a couple of notes. Let them pass, let them flow. The whole enjoyment of a symphony lies in your readiness to allow the notes to pass. Whereas if a particular bar took your fancy and you shouted to the orchestra, “Keep playing it again and again and again,” that wouldn’t be a symphony anymore.
One day Nasr-ed-Din was strumming a guitar, playing just one note. After a while a
crowd collected around him and one of the crowd said, “That’s a nice note you’re playing, Mullah, but why don’t you vary it a bit the way other musicians do?” “Those fools,” he said, “they’re searching for the right note. I’ve found it.”