Saturday, July 06, 2013

Mark Epstein quotes on desire

"From the Western, Puritan point of view, it’s always been seen as dangerous, devilish, the enemy. From the Eastern spiritual point of view—as adopted by many Western practitioners, at least—it has the connotation of something to be avoided, a poison. As a psychotherapist, I’ve been trained not to avoid the so-called “real stuff’—anger, fear, anxiety—and this certainly includes desire. Desire is the juice. It’s how we discover who we are, what makes a person themselves. I wanted to try to explore how to work with it more creatively. "

 "Different teachers have different approaches to this: some recommend avoidance of temptation or renunciation, while others talk about meeting desire with compassion. Another strategy is to recognize the impermanence of the object of desire for instance, by countering lust with images of how disgusting the body really is."

"Other teachers say that desire is really just energy that we have to learn how to use without getting caught by it."

"The Buddha’s point, I think, was that by renouncing clinging we actually deepen desire. Clinging keeps desire in a frozen, or fixated, state. When we renounce efforts to control or possess that which we desire, we free desire itself."

"It may not be so much that we have desire as that we are desire. Try- ing to renounce desire is like trying to renounce yourself. This isn’t the way to see the emptiness inside. But clinging is different. We can renounce clinging without estranging ourselves from desire."

 "Can you give your lover the freedom of their subjectivity and otherness? Admit that they are outside of your control?"

"One thing that has helped me think about this is the psychoanalyst Jessica Benjamin’s theory that there are two kinds of desire. A male desire (present in both sexes), which knows what it wants and is going after it, which is all about trying to obtain satisfaction. And a female desire, not just in women, which is more about interper- sonal, and intrapersonal, space. The male desire is about doing and being done to, while the feminine desire is about being. Think of a baby at the breast. In one version, the breast is trying to feed the baby—it’s forcing itself into the baby’s consciousness, or the baby’s mouth. In the other version, the breast just is. The baby has to find it, discover it, for herself. It’s almost like our culture is hip to “male” desire, assaulting us constantly with “you want this, you want that.” It’s so much in the object mode that it doesn’t yield the room for what she’s calling a femi- nine desire, which is “Give me some space to know what I really want.” "

"A famous psychoanalyst named Otto Kernberg speaks of sexual union as the experience of a lover revealing himself or herself as a body that can be penetrated and a mind that is impenetrable."

"...the Buddha taught not only abour suffering, but about the end of suffering. Desire is only a problem when we mistake what’s ephemeral for an object, something we can permanently grasp. It’s only suffering because we don’t understand."
From an interview in Tricycle

1 comment:

Chrisy said...

The last two sentences sum this issue up perfectly....thank you.