DESIRES ARE ENLIGHTENMENT

Lately I’ve been doubting myself. I've been wondering why it’s taking me so long to have the wonderful life I imagine.

With all that's going on in the world, finding peace, stability, and security in my life feels more urgent than ever. In short: It's not a f*cking game anymore. I’m trying to shake this habit of NOT making moves, of procrastinating, of continuing to accept less than what I’m worth. As much as I want it, it’s hard to take even the smallest of steps towards the life of my dreams. Sometimes I feel like I’m nowhere close to where I want to be and not getting anywhere fast enough. 

Still, the lesson I keep learning these days is, “Do not accept anything less than exactly what you want.” 

Last week, at a Buddhist LGBTQ conference, I received guidance from Mira Gandy, a leader in the SGI ("Sokka Gakkai International," the world's largest lay Buddhist organization). I told her how wild this year has been for me, and how, now that the dust has settled, I'm eager to pick back up momentum. I told her that I want my career to take off.  I want to finally have savings. I want to not live paycheck-to-paycheck. I want to start planning for a family.  I want to travel. I want to own a house.

Mira listened, smiling and nodding, like she understood exactly what I meant. And then she said something that rocked my world: Your life has to be ready for your dreams. 

In Nichiren Buddhism, desires are enlightenment. What this means is that in order for us to get what we desire, we must first conquer the internal forces that stand in our way. We have to undergo a profound inner transformation (what we call “human revolution”) in order for our environment, and ultimately, our experience in this lifetime, to change.  Mira reminded me that I have to be ready to receive what I want! I have to do my human revolution, and my dreams will follow. I have to elevate my life condition before my visions manifest.

Well damn if I didn't need that reminder. It's so simple, yet so profound: Our wildest dreams require the best version of us in order for them to come true. We have to BE better in order to GET better. 

So. I am learning to forgive myself for wanting and wanting and wanting. I am learning to let go of shame about it. I am learning to celebrate desire (EVEN when it shows up as jealousy, or envy, or resentment, or sadness), and turn these moments into fuel. Because without desire, I'd have nowhere to go.

Pursuing the life of my dreams is so much more than simply demanding what I want, or even what I "deserve." Pursuing the life of my dreams is about seizing every single opportunity to become the best version of myself. Mira reminded me not to get caught up in "the gap," freaking out over how far I've got to go, and to be aware of the causes I'm making in the present for the future.

I share this with y'all because I want someone to remind me when I forget: We’ve got to silence that voice that calls our dreams “impossible.”  It’s THAT voice that keeps people stuck in suffering. It's that voice convinces people they don't have power. That voice nudges our spirits closer and closer to darkness, to hopeless, and tries to get us to stay. 

So don’t give up. Keep wanting. Want it all. Want boldly. Imagine the juicy details, and play them over and over in your head. No dream is too big. No desire too small or too silly. Whatever you want, GO GET IT. Because it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. If you want to change your life, you’ve got to change yourself, and that's the most profound and worthy endeavor there is.

Jamila Reddy