Desire, Preference, Priests and Other Pushers (by Swifty Flame-Anderson)
Sometimes I find myself visiting my favourite restaurant and after I have polished off the main course, the waiter or waitress generally brings over the desert menu which is chalked onto a little blackboard.
When this happens I have to make a choice between 5 or six options which I know (being acquainted with the chef) will all be marvellous in their own way. But still, I have to choose one (or maybe two!)
So I have to exercise a preference. I have to decide in that moment which one I prefer. This does not mean that I dislike all the others. It just means that on this particular occasion, in this particular moment, there are a number of options and I have exercised a preference.
Some similar examples might be that I prefer summer to winter, but this does not mean that I have to be utterly miserable throughout the winter. I prefer sunny weather to rain, but that does not mean I have to be utterly distraught when it rains. When watching the FIFA World Cup recently, I would have preferred my home nation England to do better than they did, but this does not mean that I have to be utterly devastated by the fact that they did not.
Here at Happy Cow we often talk about love and its unconditional nature, that it is beyond arbitrary judgements such as 'good' and 'bad', 'positive' and 'negative', 'right' and 'wrong'. A movement towards unconditional love generally leads to the dropping of personal desire. Not that one has to force anything to drop. It just drops naturally.
People sometimes contemplate that and come to the conclusion that it means being in a position of utter indifference, a contemplation which they find rather abhorrent. They think of monks just sitting silently all day in a monastery somewhere in the lotus position having discarded all worldly pleasures. Yes, that does sound rather dull!
But here I am trying to highlight the difference between desire and preference.
Desire might be something like this: 'Summer is good and winter is bad. I want it to be always summer. I cannot be happy until it is always summer. I will not rest until it is always summer. Some people think that winter is better than summer. Those people are bad and wrong.'
Preference would be like this: 'I personally prefer summer, but I know it can't always be summer. That is just the nature of Life, always cycling. This is just my personal preference. Some other person might prefer winter or spring or autumn. It is not that I am right and they are wrong. It is just personal preference. I do not have to get upset every time winter comes around. I know that summer will be round again soon enough.'
Just as I can enjoy all the items on the desert menu but prefer the cheesecake, I can prefer summer but enjoy the other seasons as well.
Desire is a very masculine mentality. It goes hand in hand with goal setting and striving. 'The world is not good enough. This is how I want the world to be. I am going to fix the world and make it how I want it.' Control. Domination. Power. Force.
Remember the story of King Canute who tried to stop the tide from coming in? You cannot stop Life's cycles. Of course, when the tide is going out you may feel great, powerful. 'Look at my power! Look how mighty I am! So mighty that I am making the tide go out!'
But sooner or later, that tide is coming back in. Then what?
This is how the pushers of drugs like religious faith, positive thinking and Law of Attraction are able to easily fool people. They just encourage them to self-hypnotise, to focus on the tide going out and pretend 'it is me doing that' and to ignore the tide coming back in, or when the tide comes back in to make up an excuse like 'my visualisation was not clear enough'. Selective focus. Selective attention. Self-delusion. The LOA version is hardly different to those who pray to God and when things are going how they want them to go the priest will tell them 'God is answering your prayer' and when things aren't going according to plan, the priest will tell them 'your faith is not strong enough'. Same old delusions, different names.
But what is wrong with that? So what if we selectively attend? So what if we are hypnotised into thinking that life is always 'good' and that we are in control of it? Well, if you can really do that and really fool yourself then good luck to you. Don't change a thing. That is your free choice.
But I would hazard a guess that most reading this cannot delude themselves for long. So there is this constant angst, this self-judgement. Why is my faith / visualisation not good enough? What is wrong with me? Why does it seem like I am making some progress but then things go wrong? Why can't my life always be shiny and positive like that guru's life?
The tide goes out. The tide comes in.
What are we to do? Accept it and accept yourself. Love the tide out and love the tide in. Love Life and yourself whatever happens. There is no harm in preferring one over the other, but if you completely reject one and try to kid yourself that you can always have the other, then I suggest that you are going to be regularly disappointed. And even if you somehow manage to entirely ignore one half of Life's natural cycles, I suggest that you will very quickly become bored with things always being the same, same, same.
Sometimes they don't have the cheesecake, so I have the ice cream or the sticky toffee pudding. Sometimes I have had the cheesecake three times in a row, so I choose the chocolate brownie with chef's special sauce.
Yes, I have my preferences, but whatever comes my way, I am going to savour every mouthful.
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