Losing Identification With Our Desires: The Freedom of Beingness
Desires cause us suffering and don’t work because anything that we choose as a desire is based on that which isn’t permanent. That which isn’t permanent leads to discontentment. Even though the desires may be fulfilled, later we’re going to seek new ones again. We’ll want something else and this endless cycle of desire and satisfaction, desire and satisfaction doesn’t work because we’re seeking that which is impermanent. If we truly want to find the ultimate fulfillment of all of our desires, then there needs to be an understanding that we don’t need anything, that what we desire we already have, and we already are.
If we can see that we don’t need anything then in a way we are desire-less. We are also free. We always are free but our desires interfere with this freedom. We desire this and that, this job and that girlfriend or drug, whatever it may be, and these desires are fleeting because they’re temporary. Thus, they can never satisfy us. The only thing that can provide satisfaction is the understanding that we’re already free but we’re seeking in this impermanence and in this dream world to satisfy desires which can’t be satisfied because they’re transient. They can only be temporarily satisfied. Anything that is temporary will undergo change.
What can we do instead? We can pursue and quest for the answer to “Who am I?” which is the true, ultimate question that can put our search for desires to an end. It’s a lot like fish in the ocean seeking water. They might think “Where’s the water? I need the water. If I can only get the water – whatever water is – then I’ll be happy.” So this fish finds other fish, seaweed or kelp. It tries all these different things to satisfy its desire for water, whatever need/want the water may symbolize. But none of these work, so finally it stops and realizes, “Oh, water is all around me! I’m in water. All that I need to be is still and then I awaken to the fact that I’ve always been in water, I’ll always be water. I am water. I am.”
The problem with temporarily fulfilling our desires is that it doesn’t work. We may meet the most beautiful woman and have the most exquisite encounter with her but it will pass. Even if we marry her, she will age, the relationship might end, or something else could happen to change the situation.
Life is impermanent. No matter how much we fulfill our desires, these can and often does change. Nothing stays the same. What we’re looking for then is “Who are we?” The freedom, spontaneous freedom, that arose in this being called Dr. Puff was to realize all the external ways I was looking for fulfillment, which occurred because I was identifying myself with my family, schooling and experiences. Because I identified with them, there was suffering. When I let go and learned to just be, then I could see that when desires kicked in and arose inside of me they were just part of my conditioning. They are not who I am, they’re not good or bad, they’re just part of the conditioning of this world. But I – “Who am I?” – is beyond this world. We are beyond the world because this world is also impermanent. It had a beginning and will have an end. But right now all there is, is pure beingness. That we always are, that we always will be. Beingness.
When desires arise in our bodies or minds, we can realize that they’re just a part of the conditioning, the conditioned response that has been reinforced in this world. But we are; we witness the arising of the desires, and because we realize they are not us and they won’t fulfill us if we fulfill them, they won’t work. We can just watch them and then we can return to just being. For example, let’s say we see someone who has a beautiful car and we think “I want that. I need that.” Instead of engaging in this story for a few minutes, hours or having it drive us to make choices in our lives that keep us from just being, what we can do instead is stand back and just witness those thoughts and desires.
What will happen is that if we identify with the witness, the witness of the thoughts, realizing that we are not those thoughts and desires, guess what? They’ll pass. It’s a lot like a mosquito bite. We don’t identify with mosquito bites but when we get them if we scratch them, they keep coming back and don’t go away. They can stay for days. If we just witness the itching sensation and then distract ourselves or particularly get back into just being with what’s happening right now, then what will happen is by not fulfilling that desire, the itching will pass. It will subside and in time it will become quieter and quieter. But each time we scratch it, whatever our desires are, the feeling gets stronger.
We should learn to identify with the awareness, the witness and the beingness. It really is hard to identify but it’s merely just being; the silent awareness of who and what we are in the right here and right now. Ultimately, we can only remember the past right now and we can only conceptualize the future in the present moment. All there exists, then, is right this minute.
It’s the same as a fish looking for water; the water is right here and now. If we identify with that, stop identifying with our thoughts, feelings and desires but rather witness them, we don’t take them on as “I am this” or “I am that.” Rather, we can say, “I just am.” Beingness.
What we’ll find is that our mosquito bite desires will stop itching and our minds will become quieter. We will experience the freedom of just beingness. The best way to reach this place, though, is by not identifying with our desires. It’s not that desires are right or wrong; they just are and they’re part of our conditioning. That’s all they are. Sometimes we indulge them and other times we don’t. But what we’re identifying with is the silent awareness of these desires.
We don’t identify and say “I am this…”, “I am a successful person,” “I am a business person,” “I am a lover,” “I hate people,” and so on. Stop identifying with these labels because they might occur but we are not them. If we stop identifying with labels and we just be, we find that like the fish, we’re free. We’ve always been free and always will be free. As long as we live in this life there will be desires that arise, but they’ll pass. They’re part of living. But we’ll be free because we’ll realize that we are not our desires.
Sometimes we indulge in them and other times we let those desires pass, but we aren’t any of our desires. We just are. Identifying with who we are is freedom. We’ve always been free like the fish in the water, but we just had to stop and be.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, international speaker, and meditation expert who has been counseling individuals, families, nonprofits, and businesses for over twenty years. A contributing writer to Psychology Today, he has authored numerous books and creates a weekly podcast on happiness at http://www.HappinessPodcast.org He also creates a weekly podcast on meditation, http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com and a weekly podcast on spiritual enlightenment, http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com His retreat schedules can be found at http://www.HolisticRetreats.tv You also might find his blog useful at http://www.Meditation-Enlightenment.com If you are interested in having Dr. Puff speak to your organization or company, you can learn more about his speaking services at http://www.SuccessBeyondYourImagination.com