The Dilemma of Desire

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What is desire?

Where does it come from?

Why do we have it?

Does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent?

“Life is an unanswered question, but let’s believe in the dignity and importance of the question.” – Tennessee Williams (1911-83)

This article will explore these ideas. I won’t pretend to have any ultimate answers that are true for all people and all time. But hopefully, we can shed some light on important questions so that each of us can find our own answers.

“All men by nature desire to know.” – Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Desire in the East

For centuries, Eastern religions taught that desire is something to be subjugated and overcome – an enemy that keeps people firmly in its grip. As a result of succumbing to desires, attention is directed outwardly which makes it difficult to explore and attain the inner states of peace, attention and enlightenment.

On the surface, that always seemed somewhat plausible to me, even though I never felt that it covered the whole story of desire. What’s the rest of the story, and how did this negative spin on desire grow into such widespread acceptance?

A Doctrine of Desire

Ideas like this evolve over long periods of time, influenced by complex interplays of religion, politics and the general awareness of people throughout history. For instance, imagine this scenario:

You are a powerful priest and ruler of millions of people. You and your country are very wealthy, although the vast majority of your people are in poverty. You are happy with this arrangement, so you would be receptive to any ideas that you could endorse as official religious dogma that would support the status quo. How about this one:

Desire is evil because it stirs discontent. The subjugation of desire keeps your subjects complacent, staring at their navels most of the time, looking up long enough only to scrape together enough money to pay taxes to you, their ruler and spiritual guide.

Heaven forbid, what if all your people embraced their desires and saw them, not as evil, but as a tool to help them create a better life — rich in experience, personal satisfaction and personal growth? What if this heresy of an idea caught on and naturally led to a life of abundance for anyone who learned to play by the rules of manifestation?

“You can have anything you want–if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.” – William Adams

As more and more people became aware of the alternative to repressing desires, eventually their influence would be a factor. They would want to share what they’ve learned with others. It would be harder to control the masses. They wouldn’t have much use for a wealthy priest/ruler, happy to live in opulence while his subjects groveled for crumbs. That position would quickly become obsolete.

This hypothetical tyrant would be very motivated to endorse and enforce any official edict on desire that would safeguard his privileged position.

Did this scenario really happen? I honestly don’t know. I doubt if anyone knows for sure. Could it happen? If you’ve studied history much, you already know the answer.

The Best Idea of the Times

Perhaps this is all too devious. Instead, imagine you are a kindly, benevolent ruler, honestly interested in whatever is best for your people. You take a look around and notice that most of your people are poor in spite of your best efforts to share the wealth.

You need something to make people feel better about their inability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. How about this: Desire is to be ignored, eradicated from their lives because trying and failing to manifest desires only makes your subjects feel inadequate, inferior and ineffective. Result — without that pesky troublemaker desire, everyone is more content and happier and peace reigns in the kingdom.

Evolution of an Idea

Other pieces of the puzzle of desire are education, technology and expanding awareness. Globally speaking, education is relatively new compared to the total time humans have been on the planet. At first, only the rich and powerful had access to education . . . only the men, and only if your skin was a particular color. Only recently did education become an option for the masses. Some countries do it better than others and we are only now beginning to recognize the repercussions of that.

“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.” – Jean Piaget (1896-1980)

With increased education comes rapidly evolving technology. With better technology comes relief from tedious toil necessary just for the sake of survival. With that comes more free time for everyone. With more free time, a few choose to direct attention toward personal development and the evolution of consciousness. These explorations bring to light new ideas, new experiences, and new ways of relating to old concepts – like desire, for instance.

“Only what we partly know already inspires us with a desire to know more.” – William James (1842-1910)

Ideas and philosophies evolve over time as our capacity to understand increases. New ideas spread and grow quickly in the modern era of global communication technologies. If we remain content to continue thinking like we have for eons and remain content with the creations of our ancient ancestors, why have these huge brains of ours evolved? If we are content with the same thoughts as thousands of years ago, we could do that with the brain of a beagle.

“Every animal leaves traces of what he was; man alone leaves traces of what he created.” – Jacob Bronowski

“Why is it that, as we grow older, we are so relunctant to change? It is not so much that new ideas are painful, for they are not. It is that old ideas are seldom entirely false, but have truth, great truth in them. The justification for conservatism is the desire to preserve the truths and standards of the past; its dangers, of which we are seldom aware, is that in preserving those values, we may miss the infinitely greater riches that lie in the future.” – Dr. Dale E. Turner”

If you continue to think as you’ve always thought,
you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.
Is it enough?” — Zig Zigler

What if . . . there is more to desire than we have been taught since recorded history.

What if . . . desire is the natural by-product of living our lives. Our life experiences teaches us what we like and what we don’t like. Desire is born to help us keep moving away from what we don’t like and toward what we do like.

What if . . . desire is the universe’s primal building block of creation. If you choose to ignore your desires, you are refusing the opportunity to deliberately control your life.

“A desire to be in charge of our own lives, a need for control, is born in each of us. It is essential to our mental health, and our success, that we take control.” – Robert F. Bennett (b. 1933)

What if . . . desire is what keeps the entire universe moving forward, continually re-creating itself anew. Without desire, without any reason to expand and become more than what has been before, wouldn’t the entire universe be complacent, forever content to stare at its own galactic navel?

“Love and desire are the spirit’s wings to great deeds.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

What if . . . the universe is more than a gigantic accident, and it came into being on purpose — because of desire.

What if . . . we are each the center of the universe, on the leading edge of thought, and therefore on the leading edge of creation. (Not the egotistical you and me, but the pure awareness of being – deep inside every one of us.)

What if . . . our desires and our subsequent manifestations drive the mechanism of all creation and allow the universe to continually become more than it has ever been before.

What if . . .our presence here is much more important than we realize and we are co-creators with the universe itself . . . and the thing that triggers our participation on such a grand scale, and spurs us on to help with the very expansion of the universe itself . . . is known as . . . desire!

“As you think, you travel; and as you love, you attract. You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. You cannot escape the results of your thoughts, but you can endure and learn, can accept and be glad. You will realize the vision (not the idle wish), of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a mixture of both, for you will always gravitate towards that which you secretly most love. Into your hands will be placed the exact results of your thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less. Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain or rise with your thoughts, your vision, your ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.” – James Allen

Then why does it seem so difficult for so many to manifest the objects of their desires? Why do we give up? Why do we settle for what is, instead of going after what we want?

Why It Doesn’t Work for So Many

For whatever reason, many people still want more, but they have convinced themselves they can’t have it.

“There is no such thing as can’t, only won’t. If you’re qualified, all it takes is a burning desire to accomplish, to make a change. Go forward, go backward. Whatever it takes! But you can’t blame other people or society in general. It all comes from your mind. When we do the impossible we realize we are special people.” – Jan Ashford

In order to avoid disappointment, many choose to rein in their desires. They choose the status quo. They choose to ignore the picture of their best life blooming like a flower deep inside.

“Oh, you weak, beautiful people who give up with such grace. What you need is someone to take hold of you — gently, with love, and hand your life back to you.” – Tennessee Williams (1911-83)

Many tried manifestation but kept noticing it wasn’t working. Their attention was repeatedly and continuously on the lack of their desire manifesting. Therefore, The Law of Attraction dutifully delivered exactly what they most often pictured. More time was spent thinking about what was missing in their lives than time spent visualizing the picture of what they wanted to create. Their balance of thought was on the lack of their desire, so that’s exactly what they got — the lack of their desire.

“We want it, yes we do . . . Oh, yes we do . . . or maybe not
The balance of our thought reflects exactly what we’ve got”
- from the song, “It’ll Be All Right Now” by Tupelo Kenyon

“Our destiny changes with our thought; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thought corresponds with our desire.” – Orison Swett Marden

Instead, attention should be focused on the thing itself. While feeling excited, happy and exhilarated about it, inner guidance is saying, “Yes, these thoughts are in alignment with what is wanted and is being attracted to you like a magnet.” (For more details, see the previous article entitled, “How Do You Feel — About Inner Guidance.”)

“Trusting your intuition means tuning in as deeply as you can to the energy you feel, following that energy moment to moment, trusting that it will lead you where you want to go and bring you everything you desire.” – Shakti Gawain (b. 1948)

Sluggish Manifestation

In this day and age, much of the problem resulting in sluggish manifestation is over-stimulation. We are so overwhelmed by so many choices, so much stimulation of thought, very few pause long enough to determine what they really want. It takes concentration, and this is a skill in short supply in this age of fast-forward video and quick sound-bites.

“Those who cannot tell what they desire or expect, still sigh and struggle with indefinite thoughts and vast wishes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)

One-Pointed Resolve

It’s necessary to prioritize and focus on one thing at a time to allow the universe to deliver it. Too many choices and attempting to go in too many directions at once result in confusion, with no progress toward manifestation. Focusing the attention results in clarity and efficient manifestation.

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham

If we don’t invest conscious attention in the specifics of what we want, we are easily swept away by the current of endless choices that constantly bombard our senses. (This idea was discussed in detail in a previous article entitled, “The Trouble with TV.”)

With so many choices clamoring for our attention, our personal power to manifest becomes confused, and we become mentally befuddled and frustrated.

“The man who does not learn, early in life, to focus his efforts, to centralize his power, will never achieve marked success in anything.” – O.S. Marden

Our attitude is, “Manifesting desires? Yeah, I tried that. Doesn’t work. It just made me feel more frustrated for trying and failing.”

It’s not that deliberate manifestation doesn’t work — it’s just that almost nobody knows how to do it. It’s not part of our educational system — it’s rarely even on our radar screen.

“The great successful men of the world have used their imagination…they think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building – steadily building.” – Robert J. Collier (1876-1918)

For those of us sincerely interested in learning these skills, the information is becoming available. The first step is the desire to learn more; then acting on it. No special talents are required.

“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.” – Eric Hoffer (1902-83)

The principles of manifestation can be learned, and proficiency can be improved with practice. (For how-to information, see a previous article entitled, “The Law of Attraction” and the series entitled, “The Subtle Side of Manifestation.”)

“The ideal life is in our blood and never will be still. Sad will be the day for any man when he becomes contented with the thoughts he is thinking and the deeds he is doing — where there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger, which he knows that he was meant and made to do.” – Phillips Brooks (1835-93)”

You can get it if you really want,
But you must try, try and try, try and try,
And you’ll succeed at last.”
- from the song, “You Can Get It If You Really Want”
by Jimmy Cliff

The formula for making even our biggest dreams come true is simple, but our previous (erroneous) programming is stubborn. It takes determination and practice to get the hang of it.

“No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” – Epictetus (AD 55?-135?)

Three Steps to Manifesting Desire

· Deliberate intent — First, you must have a clear picture of what you want.

· Attraction —Keep your thoughts on what you want. (Not on the absence of it, and not on what you do not want.) Accentuate the positive, which will generate positive emotion about it.

“Thought creates form, but it is feeling that gives vitality to thought.”
- Paul Twitchell (1908?-1971)

“What you see is what you get, So focus on your dreams;
Cause if you picture what you dread, You’ll create that instead!”
- from the song, “What You See is What You Get” by Tupelo Kenyon

“I wanted to ask of the universe . . . what about “no” do you not understand
With “yes” on the tip of my tongue . . . but “no” still clutched in my hand
So the question never took to the air . . . although I was hoping it might
But the “yes” and the “no” at the same time . . . effectively grounded its flight
So I wondered instead at the power of “no” and our power of making the call
By thinking thoughts of whatever we want, in a universe full of it all
Thinking of “yes”, the universe stirs, and attraction delivers by name
Thinking of “no”, the law still applies and delivers it just the same
I wanted to ask of the universe, what about “no” do you not understand
With “yes” on the tip of my tongue, but “no” still clutched in my hand”
- from the song, “No, yes” by Tupelo Kenyon

· Allowance — Expect it, believe it and feel good about it. Let it come to you.

“When we create something, we always create it first in a thought form. If we are basically positive in attitude, expecting and envisioning pleasure, satisfaction and happiness, we will attract and create people, situations, and events which conform to our positive expectations.” – Shakti Gawain (b. 1948)

Feeling Wonderful About Creation

The receiving of the object of your desire brings a very satisfying feeling of contentment. This rush of positive emotion is a clear signal from your broader perspective that your accomplishment is in line with who you really are and your deepest sense of direction.

“You are what your deep driving desire is; As your deep driving desire is, so is your will; As your will is so is your deed; As your deed is so is your destiny.” – Maitri Upanishads (c. BC 800)

This is very different than the contentment felt by the person trained to pull out his desires by the roots like weeds and dispose of them. The contentment of successfully taking a desire into manifestation is an experience of personal power working in-concert with the laws of the universe. Such a profound feeling of connectedness to the creative power is difficult to ignore. It is only natural to want to experience more co-creation.

“It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal.” – Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Perhaps our hypothetical priest/ruler at the beginning of this article experienced this rush of contentment as he learned to manifest his desires. Perhaps it played a part in his rising to power. Perhaps he didn’t have the consciousness to recognize that it’s the birthright of each and every one of us. Perhaps he did and simply didn’t have the moral fiber to admit it to himself and teach it to his followers.

“I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s.”
- William Blake (1757-1827)

Or, perhaps he was right, and this business of desire and creation by deliberate intent is only for the privileged few.

It’s your decision . . . and however you decide, that creates your reality.

“Think you can, think you can’t, either way you’re right.”
— Henry Ford (1863-1947)

And that’s the dilemma of desire.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs:

It’ll Be All Right Now
It’s one thing to understand intellectually that the thoughts we think mold our experience, and another thing to live every moment as if it really is a basic law of nature.

http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor10

No, Yes
Inspired by the teachings of Abraham, modern day teacher of the science of deliberate creation and the art of allowing, this song examines the folly of continually "shooting yourself in the foot" by holding conflicting thoughts at the same time. Yes I can. No I can’t. I want that. But do I really deserve it? Around and around it goes.
http://www.somemusicmatters.com/DescX.html#Anchor10

Songs by Tupelo

Related Links


Related Articles:

The Trouble with TV
Does TV enhance our life experience or get in the way of living our lives? Celebrate life with this refreshing perspective on the boob tube.

How Do You Feel About Inner Guidance?
Is it a hunch? Is it a voice in your head? Is it something you feel? Don’t confuse what you feel with who you are. Once you are able to access this awareness of pure being and identify yourself with it, you won’t get carried away by whatever emotional cloud happens to be passing by. Celebrate life through one of the more subtle forms of communication available to us – inner guidance.

The Law of Attraction
With anything as important as the law of attraction, it’s a good idea to hear it described many times from many different angles. This article looks at it from several viewpoints as well as revealing how to get the understanding of the law of attraction from the prime source. Many links are provided including links to streaming mp3 songs that incorporate the principles of attraction in the lyrics. Celebrate life with an ever-clearer grasp of how the law of attraction determines your life experience.

The Subtle Side of Manifestation
This in-depth, 4-part article explores the principles and laws that deliver what we desire. Celebrate life through the awareness that you have control of your future.

Manifestation Fill-In-the-Blank Formula
Here’s a simple technique you can adapt to your own style. First, I’ll give you the formula as I currently use it. Next, I’ll discuss each word so you’ll see how it has evolved into its present state. Then, I’ll add some supporting information to provide you with a ready-to-go affirmation for your own experimentation. This manifestation technique is built around one simple sentence . . .

Beyond Science, Philosophy and Religion
Is truth absolute or relative? Is there anything beyond science, philosophy and religion? Many of the world’s top quantum physicists think there is. Celebrate life by stretching you imagination.

Articles by Tupelo

This is the end of the article entitled The Dilemma of Desire published by Tupelo Kenyon on April 6, 2007 at 8:00 am | In Awareness, Law of Attraction, Manifestation, Productivity - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.


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  1. [...] Kenyon presents The Dilemma of Desire posted at Tupelo [...]

    Pingback by Evolving Times » Law of Attraction Carnival #24: General Roundup — August 14, 2007 #

  2. [...] clever man quickly finds a solution, by substituting a proxy goal for his original desire. His proxy goal is evidently in alignment with the true objective, and has the advantage of being [...]

    Pingback by Why Wise Men Abandon Their Goals — September 3, 2007 #

  3. [...] the dilemma of desire at tupelo kenyon what is desire? where does it come from? why do we have it? does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent? this article sheds some light on these important questions so that each of us can find our own answers. (enjoy some music as you read plus songs with lyrics related to each article – all free.) [...]

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  4. [...] The Dilemma of Desire What is desire? Where does it come from? Why do we have it? Does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent? This article sheds some light on these important questions so that each of us can find our own answers. [...]

    Pingback by TupeloKenyon.com » Balancing Desire with Contentment — November 16, 2007 #

  5. [...] The Dilemma of Desire What is desire? Where does it come from? Why do we have it? Does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent? This article sheds some light on these important questions so that each of us can find our own answers. [...]

    Pingback by TupeloKenyon.com » How to Accelerate Manifestation. Keep Quiet About Your Dreams — January 17, 2008 #

  6. [...] The Dilemma of Desire What is desire? Where does it come from? Why do we have it? Does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent? This article sheds some light on these important questions so that each of us can find our own answers. [...]

    Pingback by TupeloKenyon.com » Relax and Rejuvenate for Balance and Productivity — July 7, 2008 #

  7. [...] The Dilemma of Desire What is desire? Where does it come from? Why do we have it? Does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent? This article sheds some light on these important questions so that each of us can find our own answers. [...]

    Pingback by TupeloKenyon.com » Goal Setting or Let Go and Let God — July 7, 2008 #

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