I had a confusion from reading spiritual texts for a long time. I’d like to share with you how I cleared it up for myself. My answer may or may not be “right”, as I admit I’m not a spiritual master, but it is right for me, so I think it could be right for you too, if you feel drawn to what I have to say.
So, I think fundamentally my error was clinging too hard to a mental idea, rather than letting the ideas which I read pass through my mind freely, reminding me of what I already know, strengthening my common sense. Ideas are not reality, so if your understanding of an idea comes into conflict with what you perceive, you can generally know which is wrong.
The idea was that of desire being… well, undesireable, to the spiritual search.
What does that mean? Is it beneficial for our spiritual search to give up the desire to eat and to starve to death? Are we supposed to be totally indifferent to our outer circumstances? Or are we allowed to desire spiritual realisation but nothing else, and have to eat and work only insofar as it keeps us alive enough to meditate? Sounds absurd.
Isn’t desiring desirelessness a total paradox? It is, but as with all paradoxes, the problem is in the words. I believe that there are two kinds of desire.
One is dark desire. Dark desire creates unhappiness. It comes from a lack of inner peace, the sense that realisation is “out there”. Because of this error, it is never, ever satisfied.
The other is light desire. This desire comes down to the desire to express oneself, as all things exist in the world to express their true natures. It includes the desire for pleasure over pain and for happiness over suffering. It is not controlling, but it is a force for creation or change. The difference from dark desire is that light desire contributes its force with absolute commitment, but is surrendered in the knowing that the force may or may not bring about the desired end.
A person connected with the light desires things, but knows at the same time that what is more valuable is the love from which the desire sprung. In this knowing, the person feels complete, no matter how far their mission is from completion.
Dark desire, in the end, is just energy misdirected. That same energy could be light desire. So the spiritual master says to dark desire: give up looking for completion. Look for whatever else you want, but if you want completion, just remember that you are already complete.
The true spiritual search is driven by light desire. I’ve known a load of people who had a sort of spiritual search driven by dark desire, trying to find completion in their spiritual ideas and practises, and many of them were THE most incredibly lost people I’ve ever met. (They generally thought that they had a higher vibration than me because I used swearwords and didn’t comb my hair). A spiritual search that’s destined to mean something, I think, is one which consists of a small spiritual knowing making itself grow bigger. You can’t find anything you don’t already have.
Be careful: I see desirelessness as a potential dead end in the spiritual search. You can try whatever you like to see if it brings you what you seek, but if you choose to give up seeking, well…
At one point in my search I became apathetic, and thought I was more enlightened for that. No, because my apathy wasn’t desirelessness as talked about Eckhart Tolle, it was the sort of resistance that says: “Fuck everything, I’m going to disconnect from everything and stay put.” Because if you really “surrender”, then you allow yourself to be moved by the needs and rhythms of your body and soul… anything else would be resistence – dark desire.
There is dark and light desire, and dark and light desirelessness. Everything has its place; everything is a poison or a medicine according to its dose. The egoic mind is what wants thing to be cut, dried and sorted out into neat little boxes; it wants a way of understanding an ultimate truth through words. There is no ultimate truth in words. So be careful and look to see if your search for desirelessness is bringing you closer or farther away from the light.