Desire and Sensation Seeking
“The five colors make one blind in the eyes
The five sounds make one deaf in the ears
The five flavor make one tasteless in the mouth
Racing and hunting make one wild in the heart
Goods that are difficult to acquire make one cause damage
Therefore the sages care for the stomach and not the eyes
That is why they discard the other and take this”
For the individual who is lost to ego, desire and sensation seeking are the reason for living. They live to fulfill desire. Take a moment and take an honest look back over your life with the intention to find the truth of your life purpose. Ask and look to see how much of your intention has been to acquire material things and pursue sensual gratification.
What is your purpose in life and how does desire play a role in it? Some of you may find that serving others is your intent. Many will realize, if they are honest, that they spend most of their waking life and energy towards fulfillment of desire. They do this thinking that fulfilling desire is the same as happiness, contentment and joy.
Desire is a hunger, a longing, a craving for enjoyment or satisfaction. We must explore deeply the what and why of this hunger before we can become free of it. When there is false purpose in life, a hunger is created. From this hunger desire for fulfillment and contentment is experienced and leads to craving. The ego mind thinks that happiness can not be experienced until that craving is satisfied. This illusion that true joy, happiness and fulfillment are temporary and last only as long as the experience itself. When it is over, the ego returns back to craving. It becomes a never ending cycle that becomes our purpose in life. The downward spiral of trying to satisfy craving only grows in intersity. It becomes strong and stronger the longer we obsess with it.
We can look at common situations and see obvious areas of imbalance in our life.
When we use food/calories as a coping mechanism, we create a sensual craving for food. Distracted in the sensation of eating, we may enjoy a temporary fulfillment. It does not last and soon we are craving more. The more emotional stress we experience, the more food we crave and eat. We become overweight which is a state of imbalance and leads to self inflicted disease if not corrected. One day we are finally wake up to the fact that we may be dying as a result of our own actions.
When we pursue material things as a coping mechanism for life’s pain we begin to feel and believe that happiness will be found when we obtain that thing. Frequently this means purchasing some ‘thing’. Each time we get that ‘thing’ we may experience a temporary period of satisfaction. Yet it is almost never lasting. Soon we are craving more things or stuff to find happiness, fulfillment or contentment. It can soon become our purpose. When the budget can no longer afford the purchase of more ‘things’ we seek and find credit. When the credit runs out, we may soon find ourselves in a situation of not having enough money for essentials. The spiral often continues downward until the phone begins to ring and debt collectors are calling. This pressure causes more suffering which in turn creates more craving. A moment arrives where we become desperate to stop the madness. It is a madness brought on by illusionary pursuit of happiness. It is a madness brought on by ego.
Today or tonight, wherever you are, there is someone not too far away who is suffering from some type of substance abuse. Right now, in our country, somewhere on some road or highway, someone is being arrested for drunk driving. They are being handcuffed and are headed to jail because they are no longer able to control their actions. At some point they may begin to have that moment of truth where they ask themselves how it all came to this. At the root of this misery is ego and craving. When problems arise, the ego seeks avoidance and distraction. The distraction is often in a sensual experience. When we suffer from stress and emotional pain, we may seek to disconnect from life. The more painful the experience is, the deeper the craving for distraction is. Drugs, including alcohol, can temporarily numb some of the emotional pain. But like other forms of distraction, the pain will return and with it the craving. Because many of the forms of drugs used for distraction are physically addicting, a person can get into deep trouble very quickly and find that the way out seems hopeless.
We do not have to look far to see people who are obsessed with some type of crazy desire or sensation seeking devotion. They live in the illusion that life is the experience of those moments of relief or temporary ecstasy.
The Tao cultivator is aware of this aspect of ego self and is mindful of rising desire. The true self is grounded in appreciation for things are. In a sense they enjoy the sensations of living because they are present and aware. Yet when the experience is over, there is no clinging. They understand that true and lasting contentment and fulfillment are found in joy of serving others. They appreciate and enjoy the sensual experience yet do not become attached. When the experience is over, they allow it to be completed and let go. Because they realize that it is not where purpose is found they do not give in to the ego craving for more. Desire is easily satisfied with acceptance and appreciation.
Where does the true self find fulfillment and purpose? It is found in the three treasure.
In compassion, the serving of the needs of others is a sharing of not only the experience but of resources so that the many share in the abundance. There is a deep satisfaction when contentment is shared by the many.
In conservation, we can realize that more is not better and we can enjoy what is at hand. The true self easily accepts that enough is enough. Resources are depleted because of insatiable desire.
In humility, we are honest about our desires. In this way way we find strength to overcome weakness. By admitting and recognising the ego tendency we can let go as it arises and avoided becoming attached. This is hard work in the beginning and requires constant vigilance. It is advised that the person who is just starting out on the path of self awareness should surround themselves with supporting people who understand and support your intention to free yourself from the illusions of sensation seeking as a means finding happiness or contentment. If you surround yourself with other people disconnected from the true self and are lost in ego sensation seeking, you will only continue towards the destiny of misery and suffering. Therefore you should be with people who will help you stain on the path. Th Tao cultivator understand that they must follow the virtuous path as if their life depends on it. For they know that this is the path of authentic living