Common steps and sub-activities
Relearning - Function relearning - Converting desire into appreciation
There may be some people who consider that there is no problem with 'desire', but desire is a longing to own everything which pleases you and as no person, [however, rich] can own everything which pleases them, that form of desire will never be satisfied.
Desire does not bring happiness or contentment.
Once you have it and own it, what then? There are only so many houses you can own, only so many clothes you can wear, only so many cars you can drive, only so many boats you can sail. And in most societies there is only one woman or man you can marry and thereby [in the view of the person of desire] 'own'.
Desire hurts. It hurts the person who desires, because they will never be satisfied – they never learn to appreciate a thing for its own sake – and are likely consumed by a never ending longing for things that are not theirs. And desire can also hurt the planet as resources are consumed unnecessarily. It can hurt other people because you possibly 'want' someone who does not want to be 'owned' or discard someone who you have 'owned' as if they were just another form of property when a new person comes along. You treat people like property, which hurts.
The people who go to some unspoilt idyllic island, for example, populated by gentle happy people, who then decide they want to 'own' a piece of this happiness by buying a plot and building on this island, are simply destroying what they found.
The wealthy of course potentially hurt other things far more than the poor do, but the poor can hurt themselves by wanting things they cannot ever afford. Desire turns into competition, or turns into jealousy or envy, both consuming destructive emotions.
So what is the answer? I have summarised J. Krishnamurti's ideas into the following points rather than providing a quote:
- Look, appreciate, enjoy, like or love a thing for what it is. Perceive its qualities, talk about it if you want, photograph it, record it, use your heightened perceptions to record in memory every last second of your experience. Savour the things 'company' or appearance or attributes. Appreciate everything about it.
- Then , do not want to own what you have just enjoyed, enjoy the thing as it is for what it is at the time you enjoyed it.
- Repeat to yourself. “I have enjoyed this thing for everything that is good about this thing at this moment. I have taken advantage of the fact I was lucky enough to have been given a sight or sound or taste or touch or smell of this thing and I thank [whoever you want to thank] for providing me with this enjoyment”
- Now say. This thing will not be any better by being mine. It may even be worse for being mine.
- And repeat. This moment cannot be repeated. It is a memory I will carry with me and enjoy again and again by recalling it, but at no time in the future will I be able to derive exactly the same feelings from this thing that I have enjoyed this time. If I come across this thing again, the sensations and feelings I have for this thing will be different – better or worse - but anticipation of what they will be is pointless. They will be different because all things change over time.
The key thing to understand here is that our systems are working against us by fooling us into believing that 'happy moments' or 'happy experiences' somehow repeat themselves. They don't.
That experience will only ever occur once.
There is a story of a man who heard a bird sing in a tree, a bird with a voice so beautiful it made him dream of every beautiful place on earth and he set his mind to capturing and owning the bird. Every day it sang in a tree by his house and he started to worry about losing the pleasure the little bird gave. One day whilst it was singing happily in the tree he captured it in a net and thrust it into a golden cage. He set the golden cage by the window. At first the bird sang a little, but somehow it seemed not to sing the same songs, the joy seemed to be gone in it voice, after a while it sang no more and after some time it seemed to even be dying. It lay at the bottom of the cage its feathers bedraggled and matted, its eyes grey with sadness. The man lost interest in the bird. 'Huh' he said 'that was a waste of time, it clearly could only sing for a short time or maybe it only has a short life'. But his slave girl, captive as the bird, saw how the bird declined and one day when the man had lost all interest in the bird she set it free. She left food out for it every day and left water for it to drink. After a few months, the bird had recovered and as the slave girl sat in the garden one evening it began to sing for her, and every night it sang for her as she sat and simply listened to its song