So if I am honest, I am strongly motivated by the desire to be liked, and let’s face it – the desire to be loved. Who isn’t? But sometimes I feel like this desire to be loved is detrimental to my sense of inner peace. It’s not helpful to spend time and energy helping people if it’s going to increase my suffering. So it is with all of this in mind, that I commence this quest to see whether I can master the sometimes disruptive, sometimes corrosive influence in my life – or at least contain it to a more manageable form where I feel more at ease with myself and at peace in this world – or as the Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says about Schopenhauer here:
emphasizing that in the face of a world filled with endless strife, we ought to minimize our natural desires for the sake of achieving a more tranquil frame of mind and a disposition towards universal beneficence.
Universal beneficence – seems like an ambitious and worthwhile goal. An interview with the Dalai Lama comes to mind here, where he suggested that if everyone was working on their true purpose there would be no war, because there would be contentment, perhaps the universal beneficence that Schopenhauer is suggesting. But don’t get me wrong – I love my life and almost everything in it, but I also feel like there is something missing, like I can do better and develop further as an individual snowflake, with more meaning and purpose to my existence.
Desire is an important element in the human experience, it is not all bad per say, as Epicurus suggested some is necessary and natural – some desire leads me to help others, be kind and good, to fit into societal expectations and go with the flow disturbing as little as possible as I journey. One could say these are all useful ways to relate to others and a good measure of success for life. However, some desires are neither not necessary, some desires, if I am honest, such as my strong or overt relational / sexual desires, demand my attention and distract me from other meaningful endeavours –namely the desire to be happy and find meaning in my life, yet I am not alone in this. Lama Surya Das explains in Awakening the Buddhist Heart:
..many are the errors in judgement committed in the name of love. Who would argue that many of our sufferings are due to romantic attachments? …
Our need for romance, passion, and love often get corrupted by greed, jealousy, fear and the shadows of our personal histories. If we are not conscious and awake, an unrealistic search for romantic love can rule our lives- often at the cost of our happiness and fulfilment.
So when I really think about it, I can choose not to follow every desire to be loved or fulfilled by someone else namely, a sexual partner. And I can choose to stop, look and listen to what is really going on around me and within me and seek fulfilment in myself. Perhaps this journey will help me do this better– we will see.