Cessation of Desire

“Life can be compared to embroidered material that everyone, in the first half of his time, comes to see the top side, but in the second half sees the reverse side. The latter is not so beautiful, but is more instructive because it enables one to see how the threads are connected together.”           – Arthur Schopenhauer

The Greeks had three metaphors for the human condition of desire and suffering – the dilemma the Buddha claimed to resolve, but which, for most of us, remains our lot in life. All three of these were kings condemned for an eternity in payment for crimes against the gods.

Sisyphus is forever rolling a large rock up a hill, only to have it inevitably escape his grasp just before he reaches the summit to roll to the bottom again.

Tantalus stands up to his knees in clear spring water, with branches of a tree laden with ripe fruit just above his head. Every time he stoops to drink or reaches for food, the water recedes or the branch is blown beyond his reach.

While I make no claim for enlightenment or spiritual superiority of any kind (having taken a bodhisattva vow), I can truthfully say that neither of these conditions is mine. I am very pleased and deeply satisfied with this life, even if it ends here, and even though all endeavour is written in dust on the Void.

Unlike Sisyphus, I like the view, sitting on my rock at the top of the hill. Unlike Tantalus, my desire for ‘more’ is controlled, and has not kept me from tasting the fruits of the difference in others’ lives that I have been privileged to make as a practitioner and teacher and writer, as well as a deep appreciation of God’s beautiful creation as a sailor and traveler and lover. I feel very alive.

The third myth, however, is that of Ixion, who is bound to a fiery wheel that rolls eternally down the road. I must have been disloyal to Zeus or guilty of some other hubris, as this feels like the daily me.  Anybody got any help with this one?

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One Response to “Cessation of Desire”

  1. Sharon Douglas Says:

    Hello, fellow traveler! Your writing surpasses the silly word “blog” and it is a fabulous comfort and surprise to have found you online.

    The solution to the Ixion thing is that you must take up your lyre. Daily.

    Best and fond wishes to you and the marvelous Quan. I would love to hear from you if time permits….

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