As I pursue mindfulness practice, I stumble on the concept of acceptance. I can be aware of the present moment, but I cannot accept everything I find in it. Some things are worth desiring, fighting for, even dying for.
Mothers suffer in childbirth to bring forth new life. Police officers and firefighters place themselves in harm’s way to protect others. People join the military knowing they may be asked to give the last full measure of devotion. Even within Buddhism, altruism is valued. What is altruism but desire for the good of others?
According to the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism, desire causes suffering. When the Buddha observed suffering for the first time, he was motivated to end it. His quest led him through years of discovery culminating in the conclusion that the cause of suffering “is the deep-seated desire that all living beings have for the pleasures of the senses, and for life itself.” Life itself causing suffering.
Is it any wonder that the ultimate goal of Buddhist adherents is the termination of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth? They see the end of life as the end of suffering.
But what if life didn’t have to include suffering? What if the goal IS life, eternal life, life WITHOUT suffering? Wouldn’t a future life free of suffering be worth the suffering of this life? The Apostle Paul thought so.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18, NIV.
Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering greatly as he anticipated the torture and death he was about to experience? Why did he come to a place of acceptance? Because he wanted something else MORE than he wanted to escape his own suffering. His desire to free mankind from the power and consequences of evil overpowered his desire for escape. Put simply, He LOVED us!
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrew 5:7-10, NIV.
My God, YHVH, the God of Israel, is a God of desire. The world began because He wanted it to. He created it all, created us, knowing we would fail, knowing we would bring suffering into His perfect world, knowing many would turn their backs on His love. Why? Because He had a much greater thing in mind. He wanted to create an eternity with people whom He loved and who would love Him in return.
It was the only way His infinite love could grow!
But what of evil? The Apostle Paul and the Buddha both weighed in on the subject.
“Desire is the root cause of all evil.” — Siddhartha Gautama
“The love of money is the root of all evil.” — The Apostle Paul
Did they agree? Do you? We’ll talk about this more in the next and final installment in this series.
Photo Credit: PyroDemi, http://pyrodemi.deviantart.com/art/Burning-Desire-135575315