I’m meditating on desire, my desires, which at first glance seem few and small. But what is the comparison? I live in the most affluent country in the world, anything I desire can be had. So how am I to know what is small desire or even how to measure that? In pondering this, I have gone back to the story of Siddharta and to a study of the mahasiddhas of India and Tibet revered in Buddhism.
The mahasiddhas lived an extreme, not that much different from the ascetics in Siddharta’s time. The difference seemed to be one of engaging the extreme as opposed to enduring it. The tantric practice of cutting through and sunyata (empty of inherent factors) brought each of the mahasiddhas to a point of non-returning. In general, non-returning is misunderstood by a western mind. It does not necessarily mean non-returning to incarnation and the experiences of these worlds, but means that their ego will not return to clinging or craving that which had been desired before. They cut through the “me” that seemed to be desiring and saw it and the desire as empty.
Siddharta determined the same sitting under the bodhi tree. As Mara threw frightening things at him, Siddharta sat unmoved within, serene in his contemplation of self-other-suffering-cause. Mara then paraded desires related to union – base and sublime. Siddharta remained serene, absorbed in a contemplation of all phenomena, the feeling of attraction, and its ethereal fabricated nature. One more time Mara attempted to move Siddharta – to cause a return to self, self referencing, self identity and its results of a flitting mind, attraction, aversion, and activity that simply creates more activity. His attempt was to mimic Siddharta in meditation.
What Mara didn’t realize is that Siddharta had seen through himself, perceived through the set of thoughts and desires that he called himself. So, when Mara mirrored to Siddharta Siddharta’s self, what Siddharta saw was emptiness. Mara became the mirror of the mind, but Siddharta’s mind was empty and thus free. Awakened to True Nature, pure always present, pristine, profound True Nature of Awareness, Siddharta became Buddha – awake. He simply did not engage.
I ponder this as my little desires arise. Engage them and I keep my own wheel of desire-fulfillment-desire-fulfillment turning. Let it rest, let awareness take its seat, and there is the possibility of non-returning.