Desire is the cause of all human suffering …OK, so now what?

The Buddha says desire is the root cause of all human suffering. So how do I deal with DESIRE, the cause of all my emotional pain?

I see that the majority of Western society is dealing with the issue by trying to fulfil all our earthly material desires with money, sex and power. However, without consciousness, we can get lost in this materialistic playground and lose connection to why we wanted all these things in the first place.

What does spirituality say?

buddhism and tantra

I looked to spirituality as another route to explore desire. The Buddhist path, or at least my understanding of the Buddhist path, is the route of detachment: becoming aware of desires through meditation and self-awareness and then letting them go.

Practising non-attachment through mindfulness meditation wasn’t enough for me. Living in one of the most materialist cultures and times in history, desire is shoved in my face all day, every day. The desire for wealth and material possessions. The desire to be physically attractive for sex and relationship. The desire for popularity and approval. Every day, I am bombarded with social media, TV, advertising and society telling me YOU NEED…! YOU WANT…! Spending 30 minutes a day meditating and practising detachment when the rest of my life was flooded with desires felt like a losing battle. The desires were relentless.

Awareness through indulgence

tantric events UK

Then I discovered Tantra at Osho Leela. The Tantric path is to fully dive into desire, meeting it with consciousness. Feeling every part of it. Feeling the fear and excitement of desire. Looking at where I hide away from it and try to escape. Feeling all the emotions that desire brings up but not detaching and trying to let it go. Instead, really going there, digging in and indulging the desires. Osho describes Tantra as ‘Awareness through indulgence’.

An exploration of desire

Tantra is an exploration into desire. What are your needs and your wants? Do you really know? How does desire feel in the body? How honest are you with yourself? Are you aware of the subtleties of desire changing in every moment? All of this starts with deep inner work and self-awareness – looking at myself and becoming aware of what my desires are.

Conscious communication

healthy communication in relationships

The next step is acting on these desires, which involves action and communication. What’s needed here are the tools to communicate what you want and need. Alongside this is the cultivation of stillness and self-compassion. With these qualities, you can feel, hold and accept the powerful emotions that are stirred up when you dive in fully and come face to face with your desires. The ups: the excitement, the love, the passion. The downs: the shame, the disappointment, the rejection, the heartache. It does take time, practice, self-love and discipline.

It is so easy to be overwhelmed in a storm of these strong emotions, to get lost in the mist of passion, hurt and rejection. But this is where I have fallen back on my Buddhist background and come back to practising non-attachment to help me cool the fires that Tantra has stoked inside myself. I have found that the two spiritual paths work very well together.

What if you achieved your wildest fantasies?

Working with desire has been scary and challenging. It’s where my deepest insecurities and wounds are stored. Buried in my hopes and dreams are feelings of not being worthy or lovable enough. I could not go to these scary places within myself alone. I needed others to help guide and support me. In this way, I was able to learn and practice tools and techniques. I came to embody a new way of being and communicating.

Following the Tantric path has been quite a ride: an incredibly exciting and at times deeply painful adventure. I have discovered how liberating it is to live out my wildest fantasies in totality and then let them go to move on and grow as my desires change and evolve. I’ve gone from believing desires are the route of all suffering and evil to knowing they are a valuable guide, showing me where I need to go to be nourished and to expand.

My desires are changing and maturing. Life is opening up and growing in surprising and unexpected ways. For me, this work has opened my eyes and heart to a whole new way of being. I trust and follow my desires to take me where I need to go.

conscious sexuality events UK

If you would like to explore desire, consider starting your adventure at Desire and Intimacy, a conscious sexuality festival at Osho Leela. It’s a beautiful space to meet friends and like-minded people looking for a new way to relate. It’s safe and fun, with workshops and play spaces to learn, grow and explore.

The festival is a great way to try out this work. It’s where my journey started.

“Desire has not to be destroyed, it has to be purified. Desire has not to be dropped, it has to be transformed. Your very being is desire; to be against it is to be against yourself and to be against all.” – OSHO

Shivani Ottaway is a writer, facilitator, event coordinator and promoter at Osho Leela, having spent 10 years travelling and working for corporate America. She now dedicates her life to personal and spiritual development and endeavours to help others on the same path.


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