Zen Master Dogen (1250) taught that “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things”. Yet as students of mindfulness, we might consider certain aspects of life to be outside of the bounds of our practice – desire being one of those areas of greatest confusion and taboo. We may have heard teachers speak of desire as dangerous or unwholesome. But as lay practitioners the truth is much more nuanced. As with all things, our work is to come into relationship with desire. Ajahn Sumedho tells us that “desire is the energy of this realm”. So how can we engage with this most potent force? We can cut it off or deny it, in the process cutting off or denying the reality of our human existence, or we can get curious about it and its workings in our life. “That which is not integrated is exaggerated” said Carl Jung. And we don’t have to look far in our world to see the results of unintegrated desire – both repressed and expressed. What is your desire saying?
What does it look like to turn towards our desire, be intimate with it and integrate it? We might find that desire is our friend. That it is the foundation of healthy boundaries and a resonant sense of self – even a guide to a fulfillment. We may also find that it contains the seeds of awakening – acting as an agent that destabilize our fixed identities, our ideas of who we “should be”, and revealing who we actually are. Through relationship to it, we become aware of those aspects of mind that distort desire, like fear, comparison, repression and addiction. In this daylong we will explore how to skillfully feel and engage with desire in all its manifestations, tapping into a source of vitality, wisdom and empathy that leads us to greater connection, humanity and aliveness.
This daylong will include periods of meditation, dharma talks, exercises of personal reflection, and group discussion.