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Desire, Manifesting and Letting Go

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I had a discussion recently with some friends about manifesting. Someone shared the pointer that the key to manifesting is to imagine having what you desire and then letting all thoughts about it go. Upon reflecting some more, it seems the key is letting go of the desire or the wanting, or else the thoughts about the object of desire just keep coming back.

This is not always easy. If only there was a little switch inside that turned off the desire!

Another approach is to explore the nature of desire itself. I wrote some about this a while back in an answer to someone's question:

Q: As I go through the teachings & transmissions you and Gina offer, I understand the need to let go of the egoic mind to be in the present moment. But, how does one “deal” in present time with current family members who have inflicted harm? For example, there’s unresolved trauma between my parents and me. Do I just walk away from the relationships? I have no desire to hold onto the pain, but I also have no desire to be around them at this time in my life. That does not feel like a loving place to me & it creates conflict. Yet, I’m not willing to compromise my own emotional safety - and set myself back on my path.

In an ideal world I hope to return to a place of love so I can spend time with them again before they die. But, I’ve not been able to do that for over a year now, and I have judgements towards myself because of it. Forgiveness has been elusive so far, though I am not giving up.

A: Thanks for your question,. I will answer from a different perspective than you might be used to. I would suggest that the only way this situation is a "problem" is because you have conflicting desires about it. You want to stay away from your parents and you want to connect with them and heal the relationships. You want to forgive and you want to protect yourself.

Surprisingly, there is actually no problem even with equal and opposite desires. That is simply the nature of desire in us humans: we want everything and its opposite. In fact, we truly want literally everything because desire does not cost us anything, so we want things with abandon! This is OK if we can just let the desires be here. In a strange way, when we let all of the different and even opposite desires just be here, then they do not matter as much. If you recognize that you want something and its opposite, then no matter what happens you both get what you want and do not get what you want. So it no longer matters what happens.

When for a moment, you just let all of your desires be here in all of their many directions and intensities, then they all cancel out. You are left simply being here and life becomes strangely simple and quiet. You still want what you want (which is everything and its opposite), but you know that those desires do not really matter. This frees your attention to notice what else is here besides desire, such as the mystery and wonder of every simple moment just as it is.

In this totality of acceptance, action will still arise. You may reach out to your parents or you may move away from them. You may find yourself forgiving them more completely, or you may find yourself feeling the same way towards them. Often from the place of acceptance of all of our desires and feelings in a particular situation, the actions you take are surprisingly appropriate and effective. But even when they seem to not be very helpful, you still are OK with that also. And sometimes, you then discover that in the long run, it was actually the best thing you could have done after all. In this place of acceptance, our deeper intution can flow more freely to guide us from within, even if our mind is still questioning.

My teacher, Neelam, always gave me great advice. Whenever I had a question about what to do about something, she would say, "Don't give it another thought. If something is meant to happen it will and if it is not meant to happen, there is nothing you can do to make it happen." I am naturally lazy, so I really liked the advice to let it all go. And sure enough, when I stopped worrying about the situation, it would naturally and effortlessly shift in an apparently positive way, sometimes due to my own actions and sometimes without me doing anything. But again, even when things shifted, it just meant I was still getting what I wanted and also not getting what I wanted. That is the inherent dilemma of the world of duality, but it only is a place of suffering if you think it should be different.

Desires are like a compass that points in all directions. That is just their nature. But, you might as well ignore a compass like that! The sense of inner conflict is only present when you think that your desires are important and that they matter. Without that attitude, they simply are something you can pretty much ignore or at least hold very lightly. Then the sense of inner conflict and the suffering it engenders subside, and right action may or may not arise. The simplest solution to any "problem" is to stop seeing it as a problem.

I also just received an email about a different need/desire:

Q: I was really triggered by someone last night and had hoped to clear it.  I don’t suppose you have any suggestions about what to investigate within, that could become defensive and angry?? It seems to be around this one particular theme of feeling invalidated... when someone thinks I am either ignorant or stupid, yet I have done thorough research and have an opinion I’m comfortable with. I don’t know whether it’s a need to be right, or simply feeling that I need the right to my own opinion when someone is attacking it.

A: There  is a simple way to work with desires to see their inherently dual nature. When a strong desire or need arises, first just let yourself really feel it fully. Then let yourself feel the exact opposite desire. Even if you are not sure you want the opposite, you can often find at least some desire for the opposite outcome also. Then go back and really feel the original desire. Then its opposite. Continue going back and forth and letting yourself really, really want the thing that you desire or think you need and then its opposite . At some point the whole issue will shift. Usually it just suddenly no longer matters as much :)

Sometimes it helps to try some different opposite desires in doing this practice. For instance, the opposite of wanting to be right and or respected might be wanting to make others wrong and to disrespect them. Or you may be able to find the place in you that wants to make others right. And even though it might seem crazy, there can be a desire to be wrong, or possibly a desire to be disrespected, maybe so you can feel even more self-righteous. Or sometimes we want to have something we fear happen, as paradoxically that relieves the fear. Once it has happened, we no longer need to fear it! PS: I am very familiar with the need/desire to be right as in my family my siblings and I competed to be the smartest one.

Desires just don't matter that much. And so getting what you want (or manifesting as it is sometimes called) does not matter that much either. There is a line in an Oscar Wilde play that sums it up: "There are two great tragedies in life, One is when you don't get what you want. And the other is when you do!" This can actually be good news since it can also be stated that there are two great blessings in life. One is when you get what you want and one is when you don't!

Desire is a normal and natural movement of the mind. There is simply much more to life than our mind, including its many opposite wants and needs, and much more to life than what we try to manifest. In the meantime, life itself is manifesting everything you can see, touch, hear or feel in this moment. When you want something to be different, you can always also sense the desire within you for things to be just as they already are. When you include that desire, then you have truly mastered manifesting, as you could say that your desire for everything just as it is has already manifested the entire world and everything in it!! And what a magnificent manifestation the world is!

There is nothing wrong with desires or with getting what you want. There is simply so much in your essence and Being that is much more fulfilling to experience than desire or even than getting what you want. Joy, surrender, compassion, peace, love, forgiveness, clarity, strength, wisdom, spaciousness and the pure potential of infinite Presence/Being are all here to be experienced and expressed. It is in giving these to others and the world that we are filled with them ourselves.

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