What IS Desire?

Stop. Before reading any further, answer the question. If you were put on the spot and needed to give your own definition what would you really say? Hmmmm. See if you can hit the nail on the head for yourself, and stand behind what you say, not just throwing out a quote, or pithy phrase that hints at your position.

The word itself, desire, conjures up all sorts of ideas and emotions that could entice you to unravel your real thought and belief. It is one of those concepts that permeates all our choices, yet like a black cloaked mysterious stranger rushes in and out of the shadows of all our actions.

I say concept because there is a complexity about the whole word, not easily defined and even more difficult to feel comfortable around. Look at our own society, desire can evoke the full spectrum of attitudes from a self sufficient pose of entitlement, ‘I will do what I want!’ Or even a repressed tenuousness such as, ‘I should be afraid of what I want!’ And if we stay only there, as though desire is some sort of battle to be engaged, we remain on superficial ground, denying the concept its full breadth of meaning.

What if we toyed with another way of unpacking the word…what if we asked openly for the word itself to reveal something of its hidden nature?  Most taking an insightful or scholarly approach say it is much more than emotion or drive for external people or things. My own stance comes from a Canadian theologian,Bernard Lonergan, S.J. who states in his Methods, ‘Desire is the core of what a human being IS.’ In a sense, it is our pulse. The implications are life changing if we even entertain the possibility! To self-realize would be tied to discovering and living as this ‘desire.’ And developing a skillful relationship to the many faces of desire that arise from ourselves, as Buddhists term so insightfully, would be both a necessity and an opportunity.

From this place, to realize desire would not be a ‘right,’we have, as though we must puff up and stand a defiant ground against naysayers; it would not be a ‘devil’ either, as though we will be taken into dangerous territory bordering immorality and selfishness. It would require us to be courageous and stand as a warrior in absolute vulnerability, taking us along the pioneering path of our life, a path only we can live.

So….What do YOU say of desire?

With you in the playground,




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