Buddha said that desire is the root of all suffering. He didn’t say most of the suffering or much of the suffering but all of it. Every single contraction of being is caused by desire. Because desire is such a powerful force, it is worth looking into.

As powerful as desire is, every desire is a lie. Every desire is based on the idea that things can be different than they are, and that is just not true. Things have never been different than they are in any moment. Things are always the way they are. You can see how this lie might come to be because things are always different than they were. Because things are always changing, we think we can decide how it will be next, which is another lie. Take your own experience: How often have things turned out the way you wanted them to? Unfortunately, every now and then, things do turn out the way we want, so we get hooked on desiring—like playing a slot machine. But, like a slot machine, it’s a matter of luck: If you play the game of desire enough, once in a while you will win.

When people see this lie, they become more accepting of the way things are. It’s funny, though, their acceptance often has the quality of defeat or resignation: I’ll accept it, but I don’t have to like it! I invite you to consider another possibility. It’s a strange possibility, but the results are wonderful, and that is to desire what is: Meet what is with the same passion you may have had for what could be or what should be. Meet what is with that kind of passion, with the same force that is able to generate all the suffering in the world. Bring that force to bear on the truth instead of on a lie.

Gratitude is another word for this way of meeting what is in the moment. Gratitude is different than acceptance. Acceptance lacks passion and juice. That’s why, even though people may see that things are the way they are, they often go back to the juiciness of wanting things to be different. At least desiring has drama, intensity, passion, and life—even if it does result in suffering. The alternative to this suffering is desiring what is wholeheartedly—truly saying yes to this moment exactly the way it is right now—bringing that kind of passion and aliveness to the way things are. This results in instant unlimited happiness because every desire for what is, is always fulfilled!

The reason people don’t make this choice to want what is, is because it is so simple. Nothing is needed. People shy away from this because, in wanting what is, there isn’t anything left for “you” to do. That is the price to be paid: To truly want what is, you have to give up the idea of being someone who can change what is. There is no longer a place for that. Changing anything would be working at cross-purposes to what you desire.

Then you come up against the inescapable paradox that even your desire for things to be different is something that you need to desire. You can’t leave that out. You can’t leave out the desires that arise—for a relationship or for money or for spiritual awakening. You have to meet them with the same gratitude.

You are never done being grateful because what is, is always changing, always new. Every moment is a completely new chance to be grateful. Whatever is happening has never happened before: Every emotion, thought, sensation, and experience arises completely fresh and new in the now. The opportunity to meet whatever is arising with gratitude and to passionately desire it, is always available. You never run out of things to be grateful for. Recognizing that whatever is, is only here for this moment and will never be exactly this way again gives us the passion to meet it with gratitude.

Often, the reason we don’t dive in with gratitude in moments of suffering or pain is because we think that if we do, things will stay the same. We think that if we love this moment the way it is and all of its pain (if that is what is present), we will get stuck in the pain, when the opposite is true: only when we resist what is does it stick around. If, instead, we embrace the moment, it naturally unfolds into the next new experience.
What cuts through suffering is simply choosing to love what is in every moment, including every thought, feeling, and desire. It’s not more complicated than that. You just meet whatever is arising with passion and gratitude, no matter how often it appears. The invitation is to find out for yourself what happens when you are willing to waste your desire on what is. Don’t take my word for it. For just this moment, meet whatever is present with a passionate embrace, and then see if you can find any suffering here.

Author's Bio: 

Nirmala is a spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition of nondual spiritual teachings. He offers satsang or “gatherings for the truth” across the United States and around the world as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the limitless love that is our true nature. He also offers Nondual Spiritual Mentoring, or spiritual guidance, in one-on-one satsang sessions either in person or over the phone. He is the author of several books about nonduality, spirituality and spiritual awakening, including Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self. More information about mentoring sessions and downloads of several of his free spiritual ebooks are available on his website at http://www.endless-satsang.com.