[This question is in response to the following video:]
Hmmmm, hmmmm, hmmm….this is one where I might disagree with you. Though perhaps it could be a matter of semantics? What is desire really? Personally, I wouldn’t limit desire to the mind, and I wouldn’t equate desire unequivocally with lack. I see desire as the impetus for creation, evolution, learning, self-understanding. Yet there is also that ever-present (for most of us) wanting for something which we do not have that keeps us in a state of misery to some degree or another. But is that necessarily a function of desire, or of something else that perhaps deserves a different name? Wanting? Grasping? The question could be: is there a state of being in which one could truly want nothing more forever? Or else is it a fundamental aspect of the soul to progress, to evolve, to move forwards in some way, even as we’re trapped in the now, even if moving forwards in our soul evolution means going ever deeper into the now? Is it a function of the mind and the ego to “desire” a deeper experience of the present moment? Or could that be the infinite God within us talking, seeking one’s truth of beingness? I don’t really see it that desire is something to be transcended or overcome, but rather mastered, which is of course something quite different. But then, maybe I’m wrong. Either way, definitely an important one to ponder and grapple and wrestle with….and better yet, find ultimate peace within.
Thank you for your very thoughtful question about what is possibly the most complex phenomenon in all of reality—Desire. You raise some important, and very subtle, points that usually do not get clarified until advanced stages of the spiritual journey. Nor is it easy to approach these matters accurately without the appropriate life experience and context.
To keep this response as simple as possible, let us say that in part the issue is one of semantics, but in part it is a question of the implications of the fact that consciousness resides on a spectrum, and that the nature of what we tend to refer to as desire morphs into more beatific states of feeling the higher we transcend toward ultimate Self-realization.
Let us also clarify that the desires referred to in the short video talk to which you are responding were the desires of the ego, that narrow and delusional subset of consciousness located near the lower edges of the vast spectrum of the infinite levels and dimensions of consciousness. The answer in the video focused only on those narcissistic desires that impede the development of intelligence, love, and Self-empowerment.
The desires of the ego (that aspect of consciousness identified with body image, name, central narrative, key signifiers, enduring complexes, and karmic patterns) are those that bring suffering, remorse, fixation of identification, and ongoing bondage. But, as you say, there are other desires that are yearnings for freedom, for wholeness, for Truth, for blissful union with God. There can be Desire paradoxically to transcend desire. And, finally, there is desire that is transcendence of desire. But should we not use other words for these more sublime feelings—such as joy, love, grace, service, surrender, rebirth, beatitude, eternal light, Supreme Being? These terms more clearly correspond to the authentic impulses, powers, and motivations behind the heart-callings to learning, creating, practicing, performing, helping, and compassionate listening.
But let us first deal with desire as it arises within the ego. The nature of egoic desire was a major point of contention between Lacan and the priests of psychoanalysis, on the one hand, and such post-structuralist critics and philosophers as Derrida, Jameson, and Deleuze and Guattari, on the other. For Lacan, desire stems from a lack of being (manque d’etre). The ego arises in the so-called mirror stage, when the infant cannot back up its idealization of itself with action. Self-esteem (healthy narcissism) depends on denial of the helplessness and cluelessness of the infantile body and mind. Desire is furtively for support of the mask of denial in the affirmative gaze of the Other.
When denial fails, the child (and later, the adult) falls into a state of desperate need (this strong anguished emotion is as close to being hard-wired into the human flesh as possible for our species’ variety of consciousness, so it is referred to as the engram of need). Anxiety, paranoia, terror, fury, confusion—a strong brew of emotions deranges the consciousness, letting loose phantasms from the pandora’s box of the unconscious, monsters from the Id, archetypal defenses, hungry ghosts, delusional avoidances, and other pathological reactions.
If there is sufficient unbound aggressivity, the need will be converted into destructive drive and unrelenting demand. Only if and when the child has crossed the soul bridge of authentic care for the Other, and sees God in the face of the Other, as the philosopher Levinas insists; when it has gained the capacity for compassion and for remorse (for its own ugly resort to envy, hatred, and destructive intentions) and entered what Melanie Klein called the depressive position, does desire in its pure form, groundless yet with an ethical dimensionality, appear and metabolize a new combination of vital forces in the service of life and love.
The child’s initial desire, according to Lacan, is to be the object of desire (the phallus) of the (m)Other. The father (or one who stands in that now nearly extinguished symbolic position) intervenes to cut the cord (symbolic castration) and break up the dyad, bringing the triadic tensions of the Oedipus complex into full manifestation. Desire is then turned outward, based on the paternal metaphor, and converted into socially adaptive productivity, in the best-case scenario. The desire of the Other is now (at the conscious level) that of the collective value system, with an unconscious residue of the original yearning remaining as the famous object a, the cause of desire that knows no limits, and is responsible for human irrationality and the death drive.
Deleuze, on the other hand, asserted that desire is finally not about the oedipal drama, but represents an originary concern with global scenarios, assemblages, worlds, vast contexts in which to flourish imaginally. Jung came to a similar insight during the period of his deepest madness, in which his Red Book wrote itself through him.
There is always only a thin line between desire and delirium, as Deleuze and Guattari wrote in their famous manifesto Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. But in his later writings, particularly his film study that explores the nature of time, Deleuze argued that desire pertains to immanence itself. Desire ruptures time and re-expresses identity and reality in a spontaneous movement toward a previously unimaginable future, rather than a captured repetition of acquiescence to the current systemic oppressiveness of the terms of existence as set by the Big Other behind the iron fist of the agencies of social control.
Deleuze maintains that in most instances, religious establishments are employed to defer desire to some post-mortem heaven, or to justify the status quo, or channel desire into submission to the purposes of those who dictate geopolitico-military-media-industrial fields of force.
Authentic desire that is immanent to the virtual reality of awakened consciousness will emerge as lines of flight toward new and astonishing icons of freedom that exceed the grasp of the system’s intelligence/enforcement tentacles and surveillance panopticon. But the emergence of such surprising nodes of revolutionary energy is not the desire of any person. Rather, the person is itself constructed out of such vortices of power. Whole peoples emerge and coalesce around such historic crises. It can be strongly asserted that a new people—even perhaps a new species, of divine beings—is now emerging as a response to the crisis of the collapse of kali yuga, with a vertical line of flight being taken by ever larger numbers of individuals on our planet, amounting to a collective ascension into the highest reaches of the spectrum of consciousness, producing a new manifestation of the Net of Indra, the Inter/Intra-Net of the Supreme Real.
Now we return to the original question. If desire, of the higher kind, collective and impersonal, produces the ego, rather than the reverse, then desire as a phenomenon of astonishing power, scope, intelligence, and interconnectedness, emerges in the same way as a dream, or a myth. The world qua dream can thus be re-dreamed from within, by the immanent transcendent Buddha/Christ Mind of Tao.
From the ground of Being, the space of pure awareness, the Self, emanating as intelligence integrated with the synergy of will and love, through coordinated super-organismic action, in its own mysteriously indeterminable moment of liberation, can break through the chronos template (chronological time as entrapment in a determined quantum field of fixed forms and laws of interaction, determined by the fixated desires and fears of its own participant observers).
Consciousness can, without cause, condition, or limitation, enter into a free fall that becomes an upthrust into an atemporal instant of kairos awakening (kairos as the absolute moment of grace, a timeless free opening of vision and moral strength into new horizons of possibilities, an egoless eternal presence expressing itself as a revolutionary transition—like the parting of the Red Sea in the Torah).
The Self in non-local manifestation morphs from ground to avataric figures, shifting the gestalt of reality itself, not as a personal desire, or even a group movement, but as an uncanny power of presence emerging as a new frame of reference, a new time, a new reality, from the uncreated core of the Aion (eternity/non-duality qua Omnipotent Source of Being and Nothingness, Supreme Real, Absolute Infinite Intelligent Awareness and Love) complete with interdimensional discernment, and capacity to express non-relative Truth in limitless modes of art and science and paranormal powers, as nodes of creative will begin to construct in full blissful indeterminacy a new self-organizing Dharma.
There thus ensues (it is happening now) at the cusp of critical energy coordination a fluctuation of the universal quantum wave field that is not subject to the illusion of mass, of systemic force, a psycho-daimonic Higgs-boson-like Singularity qua multiplicity, that is: Interdimensional Communion. The collective unified transfigurational function augments in power as it attracts magnetically a burgeoning force-field of irrepressible actants. This uncanny sphere of miraculous movements opens up the dimensions of the dead and the not yet born, forces with not only the capability to resist the fixed forms and repressions of the old order, but to flow through and beyond the collective phantasm of exhausted pseudo-reality, between the interstices of obsolete assumptions, in a dance of co-creation of a new world dream.
It is this ego-boggling Event that determines all desire both future and past, redraws the map of the Real, echoing both forward and back in the lineland of chronological time and re-designs all desire in accord with the irruption of the pure signal of the Presence of the Real into the fading hologram of a polluted sea of imaginary and symbolic obsolescent information, coalescing anew as a purified infinity, a fledgling new age complete with minds who will post facto take credit for its creation and sustenance.
In the far future, yes, entropy will re-appear and gradually squeeze the life and love out of the next cycle of re-christened chronos, and over long epochs and cultural phases, civilizations will rise and fall, another oppressive global system will finally enclose life in its dead claw, and the issues of individuation and avataric desire will re-emerge (in the form of Buddhas then of Christs, crucifixions followed by genuflections, ending in Apocalypse, ad infinitum, world without end, amen). And the cycle will, say the sages, spiral out in forever new permutations of divine delight.
As I said, desire is not a simple subject to delineate. Please forgive the discourse, since it was offered on demand.