Talks by Rob Burbea Link to talks Link to Transcripts

Should We Let go of All Desire?

  • Desire is infinite in its mystery

    • Can be explored by so many angles
    • We can’t exhaust the exploration of desire
  • Our idea of enlightened people is that of someone who has dropped all desire

    • Just perfectly happy with what is
  • A common teaching is “Let go of all desire”

    • Is that even possible?
    • Subtle desires will probably remain
    • Even the Buddha desired to share his teachings
  • We have to be careful that the path we are on doesn’t shrink something within us that might be a blessing

Do We Fear Desire?

  • We often have a fear of deep desire
    • Particularly desire of “deep” things, like God or enlightenment
    • Yet many other small desires go unnoticed and accepted. Desire for comfort, convenience etc…

Connecting with Desire (Exercise)

Minute 14:00 - 40:00 of talk 1

  • Imagining ourselves on our deathbed and asking ourselves (~ min 20-40?):
    • What did I want in my life
    • What do I regret not doing
  • Asking “what do I want” may bring up a sense of lack
  • The Inner Critic may come up and shut our desires down (“you can’t never do that!“)
    • That doesn’t give the desire a chance to grow
    • Some of the reasoning of the IC may even be right
      • But if we’re too quick to allow the IC to tell us why we won’t be able to do something, we don’t give desire a chance to grow
  • Maybe we need to protect desire like we protect a small plant that needs to grow
  • The inner critic inhibits desire and desire inhibits the inner critic

Another Side of Desire

  • Have we proven it empirically that desire brings suffering?

  • Is it possible that a lack of desire or non-nourishing of desire also brings suffering?

  • Is it possible that allowing desire creates depth, energy, dynamism and inner power into our heart or being?

  • “maybe conversely, not desiring, letting go of what I desire, maybe something in me gets disempowered, becomes weak (over time; I’m talking about years and longer), becomes flaccid or impotent, even, maybe, especially if I’m not desiring because there’s fear of desire

  • Just following superficial desires also brings a weakening of the being

Opening to Desire

  • Fantasy of being a researcher into consciousness
    • How does that change your attitude to practice?
    • Instead of thinking of yourself “trying to do it right”?


  1. Dropping the assumptions that desire is problematic and to be suppressed
    • Playing with the assumption that desire might have something meaningful to give us
    • ”Ultimately one loves one’s desires and not that which is desired” Nietzche

  2. Asking yourself “What am I wanting”?
    • Going deeper than the surface, mind craving (usually a specific object e.g. I want a gf)
      • I want to love, the opening of the heart, to see beauty in everything, the sense of being received
  3. Sitting with and opening to the sense of desire
    • Being careful to a sense of lack emerging
      • Does lack necessarily need to be there when I feel desire? (hint: no)