“Mom, I know what I want to save my money for. A laptop or a cell phone.”
She’s nine years old, and the money she’s talking about is her weekly allowance. As long as I’m her mother, she won’t be fulfilling either desire any time soon, but that doesn’t resolve the problem for me. I perceive it as something far bigger, more menacing and upsetting. Something not right.
Those insidious commercials! Our consumer-driven culture! Our insatiable kids! Those inexhaustible desires! How I want to put an end to them! Specifically, how I want to put an end to hers!
Or so we chant in the Four Bodhisattva Vows:
Desires are inexhaustible
I vow to put an end to them
What exactly do we mean by that? Have no desires? Want nothing? Is that what we really want? After all, it is desire that brings us to the Dharma, desire for truth, and desire that brings us back to practice again and again.
Maezumi Roshi once responded to a student who professed to having no desires.
“Your practice is wrong!” Maezumi replied.