We wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for desire. On the most basic level, carnal desire compels our species to reproduce. It is a natural capacity of ours. When our ability to desire wanes it tends to be a sign that something is wrong. We see that in cases of depression, or when a relationship is ending. I’m not just referring to sexual desire, but also the broader idea of what the heart desires. It is everything that motivates us to get out of bed in the morning. If it wasn’t for desire, we wouldn’t do anything.
One of the most fascinating qualities of desire is that it has a mind of Its own . . . We can’t make ourselves want something we don’t want.
A wise woman said this to me once, and it changed my life forever. I’m not ready to tell that story yet, but I’m passing along this key concept. The implications of this are powerful. Desire is a Spirit Guide.
While advertisers and propaganda artists can influence humans, there’s a limit to how deep they can go. They can’t make us fall in love. What the heart desires is ultimately sovereign, it is as if we fall under its spell. It moves us towards and away from things in life.
What if this power to control us means that passion is a navigational system?
The more I listen to what calls to me, the more I suspect that the hearts desire is an energy that comes from beyond somehow, to lure us in a certain direction.
We can’t force desire. It’s a little more possible to wean ourselves off a desire, but that often takes considerable effort and will power. Desire is sticky, we feel this when we try to break a bad habit.
Listen to What your Heart Desires and Follow Your Bliss
Joseph Campbell emphasized the importance of honoring what excites us in life and how that can lead us to a life full of meaning and wonder.
The same concept is explored using the metaphor of the golden thread by Stephen H. Buhner:
“Golden threads always lead to a shift in perception, traveling from one state of mind to another.” -S.H.B.
In his book Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception into the Dreaming of Earth, Buhner encourages us to keep our eyes open for what sparkles in our lives, and to follow that thread to see where it leads. This particular book is a beautiful deep dive into mysticism. It’s not for everyone, but I read the 500+ pages in nearly one sitting. It’s a captivating exploration of the unseen forces that shape reality, and how life communicates with us through feelings. How we feel, what we like or dislike, and what we want and get excited about are road signs that can lead to an amazing life.
Follow your bliss doesn’t mean giving up impulse control.
There’s some discernment involved. I had a craving for fast food the other day but I didn’t act on it. Choosing to experience what you want doesn’t mean wandering the world like a hungry ghost, dripping with insatiable desire that consumes everything within reach. Desire is a human capacity that can be honed and wielded and trained to serve us. Just like exercise or sleep, there’s a balance point, and too much or too little causes problems.
I’m also not advocating getting lost in some relentless pursuit of worldly desires. This isn’t the 80s. The rat race isn’t cool anymore. Authenticity is.
If the thought of owning an Aston Martin makes you absolutely ecstatic, then that’s great, I say go for it. Apply some savvy budgeting or goal setting tactics and get what you want. Material desires are often just bread crumbs along the path, leading us to the experiences we are meant to have which shape our lives and character. The experience along the way is the real treasure.
An authentic journey in this life begins knowing what your heart desires . . . What do you want?
Be ambitious. Don’t censor. Name what your heart desires out loud, even if it’s just when you are driving in your car alone. Paste it all over a vision board or set up an altar. Journal about it. Do whatever works for you, except for ignore it.
To desire isn’t superficial or indulgent. It isn’t sinful or shameful. We are moving out of that era, those thousands of years of shunning desire.
The paradigms of sacrifice and renunciation are dying. People are following what their heart desires like never before. Maybe folks are starting to realize that there’s no trophy for martyrdom. And that life is temporary and we don’t actually know what it is or what happens afterwards, if anything at all.