Letting Desire Live

by OneTaste Living Library  Sep 22, 2011

The other day we were sitting around the office talking about the ubiquitous topic of desire, when OneTaste’s founder, Nicole Daedone dropped by. Her story of wrestling with desire pinned each of us in the room. It might just get you too. Here’s how it went...nnA teacher of hers was dying, and she had flown to Hawaii to meet with him in person for the first and last time. There would be three group interviews over the course of three days. Whatever transpired between them during those three meetings would have to last her for the rest of her life.nnOn the first day, he asked her, “What do you want?” She froze. To offer any response that fell short of her deepest, truest desire would be to waste one of her precious few encounters with him. She wanted to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But at that moment, Nicole could not for the life of her identify what it might be. The only desire she could get in touch with was the desire to please him with her answer.nnBetween Nicole and her deepest desire—whatever it was—an internal censor had interposed itself, intent on naming a desire that her teacher would deem worthy. She mumbled something about moving into the Zen center and devoting her life to spiritual practice. That was what she thought she was supposed to want.nnNicole’s teacher responded, “Very interesting” and then, apparently losing all further interest, added, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” From this she gathered that her answer had been wrong.nnNicole had been caught off guard, unprepared. Determined not to let that happen again, she lay awake that night revising her answer, mentally rehearsing her new, improved version of it. Sure enough, the question came again the following day, and she offered the response she had memorized. She can no longer remember what it was, exactly. Something about wanting to get enlightened.nn“Very interesting,” he replied. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”nnBy now Nicole was starting to panic. She’d blown her first two chances with him, and only one remained. It dawned on her that if she was losing this badly giving the “right” answers, there was little more to lose by giving a wrong one.nnNicole’s internal censor dropped its guard just long enough for a wrong answer to make itself known. It was an appalling answer, but the truth of it was undeniable.nnOn the third day, her teacher asked, “What do you want?”nnNicole replied: “I want to take over when you die.”nnA sort of gasp arose in the room, followed by a stunned silence. She felt hideously exposed, and utterly mortified. A lifetime seemed to pass before her teacher broke into a smile and everyone in the room exhaled.nn“Now we have something interesting to talk about,” he said.nnOur deepest desires reside at a layer beneath judgment. It’s so dark and obscure down there that we assume whatever lives there must be really bad. To get to it, we have to slip past the internal censor whose self-appointed mission is to conceal what lies at our core.nnIf we can’t slip past the censor, we may spend most of our lives pursuing what we think we’re supposed to want, perpetually dissatisfied because what we truly want is an impenetrable mystery. We keep throwing offerings into that underground volcano of yearning without ever appeasing it. Like an inefficient charity that squanders most of its funds on administrative costs, we never reach the hunger.nnGenuine desire has its best chance of being heard when your MO is in some disarray. If it is not already in disarray, you can count on turn-on to dishevel it. You startle yourself with some illicit but irrefutable admission, or plunge headlong into some splendid catastrophe. Turn-on is involuntary. That’s what makes it alarming at times, and also what makes it wise. It comes from a place of deeper truth than you can get to by way of your familiar rationalizations and ruminations.nnBecause it comes from that place of deep truth, desire is uncompromising. It can’t be fooled or co-opted into some other agenda, and it never lies. If you are hoping to transform what you conceive of as a duty into a turn-on, forget it. This is how desire earned its reputation for being dangerous. It is no great respecter of the status quo.nnAfter Nicole acknowledged her true desire to her teacher, she pursued it for a while. But when she didn’t seem to be making much headway, she lost her nerve. A former boyfriend came back into her life and proposed marriage. Accepting seemed like an honorable way out of what she was coming to view as a grandiose and impossible mission. Marriage to a very nice guy with a very nice house in the suburbs looked a lot more like what a woman her age ought to have wanted.nnSo Nicole moved into the very nice house with the very nice guy, and found herself turning into a not very nice person. She was bored, restless, mildly depressed and drinking too much, sometimes taking out her frustration on her husband, who was in no way to blame for it.nnWhen she gravitated back to OM, her husband was supportive, and learned to do it with her. But it was no good. The problem wasn’t so much who she had married as why she had married him. The marriage was an attempt to defect from her true desire. It could not help but fall apart.nnDamaging a relationship is high on the list of fears people express about desire in general and OM in particular. As many conceive of it, the conflict is between the right thing (commitment, duty, not hurting anyone) and the pleasurable thing. In a contest between duty and hedonism, they fear the latter will prevail. That is rarely, if ever, the case, especially among practitioners of OM.nnHedonism is an attempt to drown consciousness; OM an attempt to ignite it. And that is where the actual danger lies. The more conscious we are, the less we can get away with lying to ourselves. Any enterprise founded on a lie is at risk of toppling when we become more self-aware. Whatever we undertake when in flight from our true calling is at risk of failing. When that happens, truth is the real culprit. Desire is just how the truth goes about revealing itself.