Sunday, September 17, 2006


As a few of you may know, I have something of an interest in Buddhism. Not as a full-on robe wearing Hare Rama type, more in the techniques and philosophies that it espouses.

The 25-words-or-less version of Buddhism is basically this:

"Desire is a bad thing, stay the hell away from it and you'll become conscious."

Actually, they take this mean desire in the broad sense, including those aspects of love that seem to make us act against our will. Obviously it also includes material desires beyond that which is functional (i.e. hunger isn't desire, it's hunger) as well as more ephemeral desires like career ambitions.

This means to actually be permanently self aware, a state that Buddhists refer to as enlightenment. The idea is that most of us are unconscious most of the time, and although we sometimes have moments of clarity that show us what we are really like and who we really are, 99.9% of the time we're not really self aware.

So why is desire a bad thing?
This is all to do with where you awareness is at. In simple simple terms, the real reason that desire is a big no-no is that it focusses your attention on the past or the future. Desire focussed on the past is otherwise known as regret and/or guilt, while desire focussed on the future is either hopes, aspirations or dreams.

The point is that the mind is focussed on that which does not exist, because the past and the future do not exist. Only the present exists, and in the present we have no mind. While this may initially sound anti-rational, what it means is that since our minds have the habit of keeping us unconscious because becoming conscious and self-aware is terrifying. I mean have any of us really looked at ourselves? So by having our minds wander up and down along a timeline which is non-existent, we propagate misery in ourselves.

This doesn't clash with the idea of having goals, such as working to become a doctor, but rather with the idea of desiring to be a future image of yourself, if that makes any sense. See meditation below.

So how to become conscious?
Meditation. Not just of the sitting around variety, but in fact to do the work that you were meant to do. For instance, if you feel that you were meant to write, then the act of writing as opposed to thinking about becoming a writer (desire) is the way to go. Activity that you are meant to do in the present is meditation. Whether as a doctor, an businessman, an astronaut, a parent, whatever, the point is that if it is what you are meant to be doing, then this is the thing that keeps you in the present.

Just some random Sunday thoughts.

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