I’ve been thinking about desire lately. The great mystics would call it ‘longing’ as Peter does in the above quote. After musing on it awhile, I realize that desire is the making and undoing of a soul. A soul is established by a narrative or a story; one that is made, remade, unfolded, slathered and shared and hidden.
First of all, this has me thinking of the gross over-exaggeration of ‘Satan’ in the Christian culture. ‘Satan’ (pronounced ‘say-taahn‘) in Sufism mostly relates to our own self-deception; short-circuiting our ability to connect with divinity and our heart-center. Satan has nothing to do with a polarity of good and evil. To take that further, it doesn’t have to do with something outside of ourselves either. Rather, it has to do with a part of ourselves that is negative (and a part of ourselves that is being reflected back to us in the external world). Negative does not mean evil. It still is vital to our understanding of who we are. It only gives us information to work with to continue to fold back the layers to connect with our heart.
To me, ‘satan’ is similar to the yogic and Buddhist concept of kleshas. Kleshas are also egoisms and obstacles to realizing a ‘Self’ (which I would relate to the Sufi notion of heart-center).
So — ha ha! — across lands and ages, we each have our path and our journey to connect with this heart-center, our soul desire. What gets in the way? Cravings. Well, they get in the way and they also teach us a whole bunch. If we experience a craving and give in to its pull and engage with it — we will surely learn something. Then, we can decide how we feel after that experience. Are we more or less connected to our desire?
The more that I muse on this, the more I realize that cravings have been a blessing and curse. They have buried me under my own haste and impulse and they have shined and polished me clean to reach a deeper layer of my desire.
Cravings can turn into addictions. Some of us learn faster than others. Some people’s physical and energetic systems are more sensitive to the aftermath of an experience or situation and can adapt more quickly. Some systems have been numbed and can’t feel the aftermath, therefore there is no need to change because no warning signs are felt. What if someone can’t tell they are not connected with their desire or their heart-center because they have been desensitized by some life trauma(s)?
This is why I feel a practice that encourages ‘sensitization’ is essential…especially in this day and age where so many of our senses have been cauterized. I remember watching a TED talk by anthropologist Wade Davis. He spoke about a particular tribal community whose hunters could distinguish which animal was nearby by smelling its urine within a 20 yard radius. Talk about being sensitized!!! However, being ‘sensitized’ or ‘sensitive’ in most modern cultures is not necessarily a valued way of being.
If we cultivate sensitivity to ourselves, our bodies, our heart, and each other — then we can get information a lot quicker and respond a lot better. Cravings, satans, and kleshas can be witnessed and given awareness without taking us too far from our heart-center and our soul desire. Sensitivity allows us to walk our life journey with more clarity and agility. And there are so many practices that we can access to cultivate this — movement, breath-work, and meditation to name a few.
In this day and age when our social training is rooted in being desensitized, I feel that there is much suffering. Without sensitivity, we cannot experience grace and navigate the nuances of life. Being born into a life of disconnection has become too normal. I look at how we create wars in ourselves and with others for no reason. On a larger scale, I see this in America and other nations as well. Pema sums it up well:
Just imagine a world where we’ve reconnected with our senses, our sensitivity and have greater access to our heart-center and our deep, soul desire. Imagine schools, homes, outdoor and indoor churches and gatherings, and other community care providers all practicing in a way to cultivate sensitivity and grace. Imagine…