The Desire Paradox: How Your Wants Can Wake You Up

Desire has a bad rap.

It’s been vilified as the root of all suffering (Buddhism, you know) and for that reason, spiritual seekers attempt to quash desire and replace it with a limp half-hearted version of life in which nothing really matters.

The thing is, desire is a natural extension of being human.

We desire sex because it multiplies the species. We desire wealth because it translates to not only food, shelter and safety (thus propagation) but also to alpha mate status. Pleasure is always near the top of all desires because it implies we are in thrive versus survive mode.

In a nutshell, human desire boils down to an algorithm for survival. And there is no point in negating desire if it means you end up dead and un-enlightened.

So, what to do about desire and the notion that it is one big carrot-stick chase that keeps you on a treadmill of survival-driven wants. You up your desire game. Choose to desire outcomes outside of the survival box.

The Game of Desire

Before I get to how to elevate desire so that you change up the whole game board, I want to note just how tricky desire can be when it is harnessed in law of attraction type spiritual materialism.

For instance, I have never been a fan of Danielle Laporte’s book, The Desire Map. In essence, the thesis is “Do what FEELS good.” It boils down to living your life as if you are a four year old child driven by the pain-avoidance pleasure-seeking principle.

It’s also bit like Cypher in the movie The Matrix: He would rather go back into hibernation from reality in order to experience all the sensual delights of being in the illusion. In his words at the end of the unreal matrix-bound steak dinner “Ignorance is bliss.”

In this sense, a focus on attaining transient material desires is one big bliss attraction and reality distraction. It keeps you locked into the matrix, deeply asleep to who you really are and what you are truly, divinely capable of.

Desire when aimed in the direction of immediate gratification is a dead end for those on the path of awakening.

But there is another path that can be carved by desire. This is a path that leads to breakthrough. Here is how it works.

The Divine Desire Map

Say you desperately want to make a relationship work. This is a common desire among the mated, and it is rooted in the basic human survival formula — have back up unit, will be safe and will further my DNA through reproduction.

Trying to make a relationship work when it is flailing misses the point that most relationships are soul curriculums. The purpose of all unions is to further your awakening from the dream — and yes, keep you alive long enough for that to happen.

But your mind tells you that success means staying together and failure means separating. So you slog onward, tasked by your well-meaning but misguided desire to work things out. (And let’s face it, there is a whole couples counselling industry geared to support the desire to achieve lasting relationship status—it’s right up there with fame and fortune).

But what if you were to harness desire in an elevated way? What if you decided to earnestly desire in the following manner?

I DESIRE TO: Understand the gift of separating. To see what good is trying to happen here. To surrender fully to the outcome that serves us both. To not know what is best. To see the way with clarity. To be shown the next best action.

You get my point, right?

Instead of desiring the obvious, move your desire compass to the subtle. Use desire as a finely tuned navigational tool instead of the battering ram that it most often ends up becoming.

I promise you: if you have the capacity to step aside from your habitual survival desires and begin to desire from a place of curiosity, surrender and wonder, life has a chance to become truly magical.  (Desire from this place is often called non-attachment. I prefer to see it as attaching to not-knowing what is best for me so that truth can move through me in the mode of St. Francis’ famous prayer: “make me an instrument.”

Back to our relationship example. It might be that the doomed relationship comes back to life after you shift your desire map to the soul level. Or it might end.

But either way, you have the changed the entire game. You are no longer just driven to feel good or seek immediate comfort or have success as you define it. You are now motivated to a level of wanting life to become a soulful, heroic adventure in which your desires are naturally aligned with the greatness your soul is capable of.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it on for size and let me know: what happens when you up your desire game? What happens when the habit of survival wants is expanded to the range of soul yearning?

Because when you are not sedated by the narcotic of survival level desires all dressed up as fame, fortune and love, you are now enlivened by the soulful yearning for truth.

And that desire is the ultimate satisfaction.


PS: I have got a desire lately to create an online course all about Soul Contact. I have not even named it yet (Soul Unleashed? Wired for Magic, are a few ideas), but if you are curious stay tuned. I’ll be announcing more details in the weeks to come. You can also SIGN UP HERE to get notice when this course will start.

Featured Image: Screen capture of a scene from the film, The Matrix.







8 thoughts on “The Desire Paradox: How Your Wants Can Wake You Up

  1. paradoxtabernacle

    Hi Lori,
    I find this article interesting…it is at the crux of my journey this go-round. It is a tender place….this place where we are at times free….and at times bound….where the light of awareness hits the veil of ignorance, and “relationship” for me, has been the testing ground. I can imagine all sorts of things about who I am when I am not in relationship….but a good mirror has a way of showing a reality that is sometimes very different from what I imagine. Who I think I am, and who the other thinks they are, come into relationship, and that place, to me, is where the fun as well as the “work” begins. If I am only in it as long as it feels good, the end result is a lot of shallow wells when one after another, the water grows stale and we move on, because it is to much work to dig down to a deeper level where the truth of our togetherness lies. It is pretty easy, really (if you are so inclined) to stay on the surface and just move on…let it go. If I am unable to learn the lesson of big love in ANY relationship really, the point (for me) has been missed. The arrow does not hit the bulls eye, and we perhaps try again and again, but always missing the mark (sin). The option I take is the deep well. To follow the thread of Love into the “failing” and learning why the arrow missed the mark…to refine my awareness and understanding and learn the lesson of love. (is there any other lesson, really?) The work is hard to remove maya..for me it requires commitment to this process with another person (mirror) and we are both dedicated to Truth…and seeing as how in my estimation, truth is what IS, that includes the white light as well as the dark shadow of that light, and it can be ugly, as well as beautiful in that paradoxical place. As long as I decide what is acceptable, and what is unacceptable, and not allowing what “is” to be in my awareness, AND in my physical being (including relationship) I am going to constantly be choosing the illusory place of light and peace, denying the other aspects that do not fit well in my “plan”. To stay in that place requires commitment to the process of yogic relationship, and to the “other”, as otherwise it is just too easy to cop out. I do not believe this process is for everyone..perhaps very few, but it is as truthful a “way” as any other “way”. Perhaps it is karmic. Definitely off the beaten path. It is what I was given….and I have to own Truth. I am not going to cop out on Love that wants to flow through me. Menage a trois. My awareness, Your awareness, and god (emptiness, love, spirit, the nameless, whatever), alive in the paradox of Planet Love. Gassho, pilgrim.


  2. navneel1995

    I have been thinking about the desire for a long time. I was curious how the desires for, say usual things like money, political power, etc. get translated to the, for lack of a better term, higher mind? And, does the desire unconditionally translated equally for everyone? It appears that it isn’t the case because there is a law ‘power compounds more power.’ If one is already rich, it is becomes easier to get richer than the one who is poor? Now, I cannot be persuaded by the argument that the desire for money or wealthy is higher of any other section of society than the those who are already poor. They dream of nothing else.

    Secondly, does the fulfilment of desire depend upon the socio-economic system one is living in? For e.g., for a poor person to have financial success, it is easier if there is a socialist system, and like-wise? In simple words, what is the system relation to the fulfilment of desires?


  3. Michael

    Hi Lori!

    Enjoyed the article!
    Yes, we should not feel desire etc. is among the spiritual programming we get.

    However i want to point out that in highest yoga tantra branches (in their more original way and not “molded” by the buddhist religious organizations;…..even the dalai lama has declared there must a be more appreciation of the human condition). desire is seen as divine. all the physical desires, for sex, for food etc.For them not desire is the problem but the lower self. but it can be transformed through highest yoga tantra….. A lot of really great siddhas with high realizations up to body of light, lived a very sensual life.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tonie

    This is true! Wanting and desiring has been vilified in spirituality, but the whole human experience is about desires, it has been hot wired into us for survival, this has been our conditioning. Your whole take on it is wonderful, yes about unconditional love which translates to non-attachment. And higher desires make room for acceptance instead of expectations.

    Thank you for the article Lori!

    Liked by 1 person

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