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The Ways Our Desire Makes Us Suffer

The Buddha used to teach that when we desire something and cannot attain it, it makes us suffer. I can relate to this because of when I suffered from infertility. I was unable to conceive and carry a child to term for about 5 years. And every month, I would cry out to God, “why was this happening to me? Why couldn’t I just do what every other normal woman is built to do?”

And it seemed like everyone in the world was able to get and stay pregnant except for me. Friends would tip toe around me and were afraid to tell me they were pregnant. Maybe it was because as much as I tried to seem happy for them, I was still so upset that I wasn’t able to be. I was suffering.

I went to my spiritual advisor who told me that I had to take this matter to something higher than me. I had to sit in a room, hopefully some kind of sanctuary, where I could just sit and be silent for 30 minutes a day. All I had to do was sit. I didn’t have to pray, which was good because I really couldn’t at that point. I didn’t have to do anything but sit and hurt for 30 minutes a day. I did it. I didn’t want to, but I did. And here’s what happened:

For the first three weeks or so, I just sat and waited for guidance. I didn’t ask for anything. I didn’t expect to hear anything. I asked for the willingness to do whatever was the next right thing.

Then I heard a story about monkeys in Africa. When the trappers wanted to trap live monkeys to sell at the market, they brought narrow mouthed jars to the beach. And in each jar, they placed a ripe banana. The monkeys would smell the banana and come to the beach, stick their hand in the narrow mouthed jar, and hold on to the banana. However, because of the narrow mouth of the jar, they were unable to get the banana out, so they sat on the beach, trapped. A few days later, the trappers would return to the beach and pick up the monkeys and take them away. All the monkeys had to do to be free, was to let go of the banana. But, they couldn’t. So, they stayed trapped.

I was sitting in the sanctuary and realized I was trapped. I couldn’t let go of the banana, which for me, was to have a baby. So, I had to stop praying to get pregnant, and instead pray to let go of the banana, or to be okay with the idea of not getting pregnant. My advisor said that I could get pregnant only when I was okay with not getting pregnant. I had been praying for the wrong thing all along.

Desire is suffering. I have to pray to have the desire lifted from me, otherwise, I suffer. I have to pray for the courage and the ability to drop the banana, whatever that banana is at the time. And once I drop the banana, I can walk off the beach a free person.

So the question is:  What is your banana?  What is trapping you from walking away free?  Feel free to post in the comments below or drop me an email:

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