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Dependent Origination: Desire

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Teacher: Rodney Smith
Date: 2013-08-13
Venue: Seattle Insight Meditation Center



We think of desire as a spiritually undesirable state of mind. Because it holds such power over our actions and thoughts, we are reluctant to thoroughly take it on and explore what it is. Desire is not just one simple state of mind. It is the composition of all the links that preceded it in Dependent Origination, the confluence of ignorance, mental formations, consciousness, name and form, six sense base, contact, and feelings.  It holds all of that and the idea of “me” as well. As an analogy, think of snow as being the composite of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, etc. Snow seems like something separate and different from the conditions that form it, but it is those conditions. We can enter and examine the energy of desire through any of these composite conditions. Encouraged by our thoughts, desire also has a strong sense of becoming something, something essential to us. But when we look at desire, it is a future thought holding the wish of a different life. Sad, is it not? When properly seen, we can you feel the grief of the unfulfilled desire?


Reflect on the nature of desire and fear.  How do desire and fear project their own reality?  Think about what a desire is.  Does it have any reality other than a mental wish?  How much of your activity is forged around wish fulfillment as opposed to being present? Experience the relationship between desire and suffering. Is desire itself pleasant?  Are you driven by the pain of not having or the anticipation of possessing? Focus on a situation in which you want something that is not occurring. See the choices before you: reality or imagination. Why would the Dharma point toward accepting a reality where you remain deprived? What is the point? Why not practice wish fulfillment?  Remain sensitive to suffering and its cause throughout this inquiry.


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