Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Steve Hagen on the Dilemma of Desire

“Our senses numb when we overload them,” wrote Steve Hagen in his book Buddhism: Plain and Simple. “But once they’re numb, it’s tempting to overload them even more until we’re too numb to feel much at all. This is precisely the vicious cycle of an addictive drug. The overall effect we experience is the opposite of what we desired.”
“(I)t’s not merely drugs that are addictive and have the power to take us over the edge. For example … we’ve become jaded about great art and music simply because, with our technology, we’ve made it all too commonplace. When we can see reproductions of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers regularly, we no longer see their incredible, screaming vitality. And how much power is left in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony after the hundredth hearing? (It might help to remember that for the people of Beethoven’s day, just hearing it all would be a rare event).
“How can we deal with this situation? Should we attempt to snuff out our desires? Should we think of our desires as nasty, or wrong, or evil? Of course not. Those approaches simply add more fuel to the same fire.
“So what can we do? First we see. Then we turn around and go back.
“There’s no pressure we need to put on ourselves. Simply by seeing how things actually are — what leads to confusion and what leads to clarity — we begin to turn around.”

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