DESIRE! (Hexagram 44)

Desire to be generous ... to generate. Sounds a bit paradoxical, doesn't it? We usually equate desire with taking -- I want! I want! -- rather than giving or bestowing. Desire can extend, though. Desire reaches out. Desire opens us towards something before we grasp it. In that instant of extension ... we are open.

Generous desire beckons as it bestows.

"Desire turns us into idiots," writes Scott Spencer. Yes, it does. It can also turn us into sages. Said another way by Imam Al Ghazali,

Desires make slaves out of kings
and patience makes kings out of slaves.

"What do you want?" ~ What's it like for you to ponder that question? How might it be different if instead of asking, "What do I want?", you were to look into a mirror and ask the face there, "What do you want?" What arises in you ... and from where does it arise? Where does desire emerge from in your body?

The feeling of desire runs the gamut from greed to longing ... and to
 divine discontent. 

We itch for something ... our soul itches, and we usually just scratch it, quickly, impulsively. Scratching extends the itch, and sometimes deepens the itch into a wound. We so easily wrap ourselves around our wounds ... Some would say that we become addicted to them. We need to balm an itch, salve it, ease its distress ...

I think of mosquito or horsefly bites. Whoa, do they itch! We want to scratch and scratch the welts that arise. ENCOUNTER is one of the keywords that describe this Principle of DESIRE ... and we can't mistake an encounter between a predatory insect and our skin. The encounter is brief -- a piercing sting -- and off the insect goes to attack another. We're left bitten ... and we start to scratch.

Desire's like that. We're left bitten, and we start to scratch. Trouble begins to brew under the skin -- whether it's the body or the psyche -- and something that was here and gone has left its mark. The traditional elemental image for ENCOUNTER is Wind blowing under Heaven, "never staying long but always moving from one place to another" (trans. Jack Balkin). An element of instability enters the larger picture, bending it out of shape with a subtle power that lasts. As Stephen Karcher writes, one encounters "an ambivalent new possibility for change released by a decisive shift in position."

Temptation enters the picture here. The itch is the chaotic force that spurs us. "Temptation," writes Jack Balkin, "advances on us because -- whether we realize it or not -- we meet it halfway." We are tempted to either corrupt: to keep itching until we've wounded ourselves more than we have been wounded -- or to complete: to tend the itch, to salve it, soften it, ease the sensation of pain. Perhaps a bandage as a cushion against further injury. Itch or ease -- which will it be?

An itch is a sign of irritation ... and it's an invitation to tend, to bring mindful and quieting awareness to whatever's gone antsy.

Ants in your pants? Get 'em out!

Clear the way for true direction -- for desire that's more than an itch. If the surface of you feels bitten and in chaos ... it's a sign that your depths are calling for expression. Often, what we want right now is a scratchy shroud over what our soul longs for. A quick fix -- here and gone -- only heightens the antsiness, and soon we're off on the hunt for another fix. 

How do we transform a fix into a focus? By quieting the itch ... with awareness, a few deep breaths, and an eye that sees into the itch. What is really calling out? What is the deeper desire? Danielle LaPorte

Desire is the foundation of our will to live.

Desire calls for deepening into authentic feeling ... into the longing that we all share for belonging, deep engagement, rest, home. The longing that we all share for our own souls, for our deepest light to burst from the heart, from the seat of authentic feeling. What we desire in a moment is a quivering needle in our existential compass ... and what we truly long for is a steady hum pointing straight to our North Star ... to our true home in the realms of Relation, Location, and Vocation. 

("Riverwind's North Star")

Sometimes these realms are difficult to locate. In my own life, I've struggled to know what I want. Even to want at all has been overlaid with a sign that bars the way -- a sign that says, "Access Forbidden!" Some of us are conditioned to forbid our own desires, our own will. We're unmoored in the universe of our own lives. 

Yet the buoy and its light are within us. They're the heart. The soul. 

What do you really, really want?
Gaze into the mirror of your true face.
Ask the question.
Ask it again and again
until the light
from your soul
pierces through;
until your eyes become
those of the eagle.
Honed with absolute
precision, and burning
toward one target.
Not to kill, but to
with wings
that draw
your desire
and your heart
into one
radiant nest. 
Groom the feathers
that will arc
into wings,
into flight,
into focus. 
Open those wings,
and dare the sky
to hold you
as you alight 
to meet
your destiny's

(Elspeth McLean, Sun Illuminating Eagle Spirit Medicine)


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