James Hollis, writer and Jungian analyst writes: “…the etymology of the word “desire” derives from the Latin desiderare,” “to long for,” derived from de sidere, “of the stars.” Is this the true place of desire? How often can we take in the immensity and the mystery of the world around us? Ordinarily I find myself stuck in an ongoing and relentless narrative that my mind uses to continually protect who I think I am or aught to be, in other words, the “I, Me, and Mine” storytelling. For the most part, because of all this noise going on, I am not available to that scale of things. Sure, I can think about it, but how do I actually feel that I am part of that grand mystery?
Interestingly, Hollis goes on to say: “Thus, disorders of desire arise from our loss of the stars, namely, some sidereal point from which our course may be derived.” We lose track of ourselves here and now. How do we cultivate healthy desires? Can the mind forfeit its incessant chatter or can we have a question, much like a Zen koan, that is so intriguing that the usual narrative simply loses its attraction. In those rare moments, the mind becomes silent and there is a connection to a quality of stillness that is far removed from any concepts or ideas that I may have, either of myself or even about spiritual practice. Perhaps desire can serve us to have an experience of something beyond ourselves. So returning to the question, what is the proper place of desire, I think there is another hint in the Focus section of the current issue from Oscar Wilde: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”