I wonder why some are more attracted to things than others. My mother told me that one of the first sentences I uttered was "I want!". I like to think that as an infant, I was born with a clean slate, so "I want must" must of come from her.
Thinking back a couple of generations, the "I want" may have come from the Holocaust. The maternal side of the family was from Berlin and most of them died. Some escaped leaving their wealth behind. Because of this, my mother felt entitled to material things that she might of had had and projected "I want" on me.
May I be freed from the burden of "I want" through Zazen. No need to go anywhere, its all right here.gassho2
Baby's are born with desires. We grow and develop various wants and needs (there is a distinction). In fact, we cannot live without satisfying various wants and needs ... for food, water, physical safety, social company. The Buddha designed his Sangha of monks to provide all that, a supportive family.
But there is falling into excess, becoming a prisoner of desire, and craving for misplaced or unwholesome things. The Buddhist Path is medicine for that disease.
I do not think the Buddha was beyond all needs and desires (some say he was, that he ate food just for show without any real physiological need. Baloney.) Early Buddhism very much emphasized strictly regulating, or extinguishing, of many desires ... sex right at the top of the list ... in order to be free of all desire.
Later Buddhism allowed some more leeway on desires. Especially in the Mahayana, "desire" itself is not necessarily seen as "all bad" ... provided we (1) learn to distinguish the wholesome from the harmful (the Precepts are a helpful guide), (2) learn moderation and balance in even our wholesome desires (lest they become harmful by excess), and (3) learn "non-attachment" to outcomes should our desires be unfulfilled. We can also learn the difference between "wants" and "needs", and how to appreciate the truly valuable things in life that money cannot buy.
Simultaneously, there also can be encountered and embodied a realm and way of being beyond all need, want ... free of a self to feel craving, any object to be craved.
Our Zen practice teaches us that we can live by seemingly contradictory "modes" and viewpoints at once, simultaneously, without conflict (I sometimes speak of "desire without desire" or "preferences without preferences"). So, for example, we can have a desire for event X, and even feel some moderate sadness or disappointment should X not occur (for example, if "X" were to represent the desire that we always be in good health). But, at the same time as feeling that moderate, natural, human sadness, grief, worry or disappointment (learning how not to fall into excess) ... we could also know simultaneously another state, completely without resistance and with total acceptance, in which we fully accept, embrace and are at one with whatever occurs X, Y or Z, no preferences.
Got my point? All at once, not two.
So, some desire and wanting is not the problem. Excess or harmful desiring is. And, we must also simultaneously penetrate that which transcends all desires.
That's a very clear explanation, thank you.
Huineng would probably had said that freedom from desire means no desire in the midst of desire! :)
There is desire, but you are not a prisoner of that desire. The mind plays its tricks, but you know them for what they are, just tricks of the mind.
Desires will be there. Whether the desire is solely for oneself, or the desire is for the benefit of all living beings, either way there is desire. And the feeling of "I want" isn't even the problem. It is when we attach and refuse to let go of this "I want" that brings us suffering. If I get what I want, great. If I don't get what I want, great too.
Thank you all for the explanations. gassho2
I think a healthy desire is needed especially when it drives us toward a personal goal, however, as Seiryu stated, when we become attached to desire the problems start.
Is this latter development a reflection of the middle way? I sometimes have difficulty discerning the middle way in my everyday practice/life. Thank you,
Originally Posted by Jundo
Yes, I would say that it is a reflection of the middle way between and beyond extremes, not out of the world nor in it.
It is also a growing openness for finding the sacred in the mundane, and living in the mundane in a way that treats such as sacred. To paint with a VERY broad brush, Indian Buddhism and many other Indian religions emphasized "Nirvana" as somehow an escape leaving behind rebirth and the painful mundane world, Chinese Buddhism bridged the sacred and mundane, yet emphasized that one still had to leave the dusty world to some degree ... as a celibate monk in a monastery ... in order to most easily find such. The Japanese, perhaps from their earthy Shinto nature, always were more tolerant of our human side and this world ... and more or less flexible on rigid Precepts ... to the point that "monks" in Japan now usually marry and raise families (the Tibetans have all such flavors too, celibate and not). This is still scandalous to many in South Asia and China even today, and some there consider it the end of Buddhism!
On the other hand, many others ... especially most Zen Teachers I know in the West ... find it to be, in fact, the next turning of the wheel, and the ultimate Liberation, whereby this sometimes painful, dusty mundane world --IS-- escaped, right amid and as this sometimes painful, dusty mundane world! gassho2
Constructing a campaign of world-rejection is self-affirming. There has to BE someone to take up the flag and go to war with another part of one's internal environment. This becomes just so much shadow-boxing with oneself.
Shikantaza allows you to realize when you're hooked and let go. In your zazen, it's a blessing to avoid being hooked, but also a blessing to realize that you're hooked and practice letting go. This practice can extend to your whole life - in which case, the muddy world of samsara is in fact your best teacher.
It is a pale and wan sort of peace that requires so much shelter. Maybe when the flame is small, it seems like it would be better to have protection from the wind, but when the flame is strong, the wind feeds it and everything is burned up - a totally new fire in each moment. In this way, you burn up your entanglement and the drama of intractable, fixed positions in each moment.
I think short periods of such shelter could be good - like sesshin - but as a total life practice? How then can the fire of practice grow large enough to burn up each moment completely without residue?