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Beyond Our Reach: The Spiritual Dimensions of Desire

Roots and Realities: Our Grandmother's Guide to Living Fully

I am not touched, yet I alter all; Not seen, yet clearly I stand tall. In dreams I thrive, in wake I fall; What am I that shifts like the shadows on your wall?

Grandmother: My dear heart, have you ever sat and thought why we humans always long for a reality different from our own?

Granddaughter: I think about that sometimes, Grandma. Does it mean we're never truly satisfied with what life offers us?

Grandmother: Exactly, my child. It’s as if we live in a perpetual state of illusion, believing fervently that we can bend the fabric of reality to our will.  In other words, It's like we're painting pictures in our minds of a world we think we can control. This idea is deeply rooted currently in our non-Afrikan world.

Granddaughter: So, you're saying that much of human suffering is because we can't accept life as it presents itself to us?

Grandmother: Indeed, my dear. Our elders teach us that our discontent stems from a mirage, an illusion that the present is not enough. And this illusion drives us to endlessly seek change, to mold life differently than its natural course. It leads us to chase after things we think we need to make our lives better.

Granddaughter: But striving for improvement, for change, isn't that a basic human trait?

Grandmother: While it is natural to seek betterment, wisdom lies in knowing when such desires are beneficial and when they are mere chases after the wind. The true challenge is discerning the illusion of need from genuine necessity. Our ancestors advocate for a life where we are advised to value the current moment, stripped of any narrative that insists on alteration for joy to emerge. They urge us to find contentment not by seeking more, but by appreciating what’s right in front of us. To live simply and with joy, without wishing for things to be different.

Granddaughter: So, they’re saying we should accept life as it is?

Grandmother: Yes, my love. They encourage us to embrace life in its entirety, flaws and all. The rest, all those dreams of what could be, are just illusions that distract us from the essence of life itself.

Granddaughter: That’s really profound, Grandma. Learning to see our desires as illusions could really liberate us, couldn’t it?

Grandmother: Yes, indeed. It invites us to release ourselves from the burdens of expectation and longing, to find peace in the symphony of the now. This is the essence of true freedom — a state where we are neither bound by desires nor blinded by regrets. Remember, like the roots of a mighty tree, our strength grows deep not by stretching into the sky, but by burrowing into the earth beneath us, finding nourishment in the simple, the immediate.


Etymology of the word Desire

I can build empires or tear them down, Invisible, yet I wear many a crown. The more you feed me, the more I grow, What am I that all chase but few truly know?

The etymology of the word "desire" is quite fascinating and illuminating. The word itself comes from the Latin "desiderare," which originally meant "to long for" or "wish for," but its deeper roots carry significant implications. "Desiderare" is believed to derive from "de sidere," which means "from the stars," suggesting that the original concept of desire had something to do with the stars—perhaps the longing for something as lofty and distant as the stars themselves.

This celestial origin speaks to the human condition of longing for things that seem beyond our reach, imbuing our desires with a kind of sacred or cosmic significance. It hints at the notion that what we desire may not merely be material but could represent deeper spiritual or existential yearnings.

Understanding desire through its etymology allows us to see it as a fundamental aspect of human nature that connects us not only to our immediate wants but also to a more profound and universal quest for meaning and connection. This connection might be as vast and unreachable as the stars, yet it drives much of our deepest pursuits and dreams.


The Philosophical Journey from Illusory Desires to Radical Liberation 

I paint a picture none can see, As close as breath, yet free as the breeze. Chase me far, and find me thin, What am I that dwells deep within?

The claim that human desire fundamentally rests on the illusion that our circumstances are pliable is not only provocative but also deeply philosophical. It suggest that at the heart of desire lies a significant dissatisfaction with our current state—an almost mythical belief that we hold the power to reshape our reality. This perspective penetrates the core of philosophical thought, revealing a tension between our perceptions of what is possible and the unyielding nature of reality. Such a viewpoint invites a critical examination of desire itself, questioning whether our yearnings are driven by genuine needs or by a misguided belief in our ability to control and transform our existential life.

This concept deeply resonates within African philosophical frameworks and mirrors sentiment through numerous global spiritual teachings, which consistently reflect on the origins of human suffering in our unmet desires. These desires spring from a pervasive sense that our current existence is somehow lacking, deficient, incomplete. This view sparks an unending quest for transformation, a yearning to restructure our lives that deviate from their present paths.

yet, the wisdom passed down from both our Ancestors and Ancestresses cautions us against the relentless pursuit of change. They implore us to accept the rawness of Life, dropping the belief that change and materials are necessary for happiness. They advocate for a deep acceptance of life in its purest form, asserting that this reality represents the spectrum of existence. Everything else, they suggest, is merely an illusion—a construct of the mind that pulls us away from truly connecting with the genuine essence of life.

Realizing that our desires might be rooted in illusory changes offers a form of liberation. It challenges us to release the shackles of expectation and longing, and to embrace a state of being that aligns with the true Nature of Reality. Viewed through this lens, the ancestors and ancestresses are urging us to define ourselves on our own standards—to our personal paradigms and critically assess the distinction between what is real and what is imagined —transforms into not only a profound act of self-definition but also a radical act of liberation. This reflection compels us to confront and disentangle the complex web of reality and perception, guiding us toward a more authentic, liberated existence.


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