Educating Desire

We can be educated in making different choices. I can decide that habit, so and so, these things, other things, “points of desire”—I don’t want them anymore. I decided I am not going after that anymore. I am changing to something else. And, if I am successful, I’m not bothered by them anymore. I want something else. So, I discard the old things. And they don’t matter to me anymore. This bus goes in another direction. I’m not riding it. I took another one.

See for some people, the decision for them to go into a religious life, contemplative life, is a matter of a decision. You can will to be close to God. You can have a will like this. What happens if you find that someone is in love with you? You just find out. What is your reaction? For most people, it’s very hard to ignore it completely. There is resonance. In the book of Ecclesiastes, it says “like a face to the water” (now we would say like a face in the mirror), as one face to the other face in the water, so is one heart to the other heart. The idea is that, if I love somebody they cannot be completely indifferent. When God says, “I yearn for you,” I may think “leave me alone. Mind your own business.” Some people will answer like this. And for others it’s a very compelling power, the power that comes when you know that somebody is yearning for you.

But many responses are possible, and sometimes it as though somebody changed my mind. Like the points of the compass, I am now pointing in another direction. Just yesterday, I couldn’t care less and now it is the only thing that matters. It happens. It happens sometimes when people fall in love. I saw a face, I saw a person, and for some time it was of no consequence, of no importance. Now there’s a click, and it becomes more and more important. For some people, it’s not a matter of a click. It’s a matter of a slow move. I want to go in a certain direction. I want to go there. I am in a way channeling my ability, my power, my inner sense of yearning in a different direction. And in some way, I think everybody can and does do it.

Now I am saying that there is the same ability to shut off, to close off all sorts of things. There is a Chassidic story that somebody sent one of his disciples to the home of another one. So, he came to the home, it was nighttime. Knocks on the door. No answer. He knocks, and knocks and knocks again, and again…. well, he was commanded to meet the fellow. So, he’s still there, and knocks on the door, and nothing. And then, after some time, the host opens the door and says, “You Know what I wanted to teach you? That man can allow whomever he wants to enter. There are lots of knocks on my door. And I can decide: I don’t want to allow it to enter. It’s as simples as that. Let them ring.”

So, I think that this kind of ringing is not only about ringing. Look, I may say there is a whole world ringing. They want from me this thing and the other thing, and people want lots of things from me. Family. Acquaintances. And I may say, I don’t want it. I want other things. Just as simple as that. They called you, and you are no going. You are not available. I may say “I don’t care for you.” Full stop. Or, “I don’t care for you,” not to put a full stop. “I care for something else.” I used to play the piano. I am not going to play the piano. I’m going to play football. And I think that’s important, because a change in the desire means eventually also a change of life. When I don’t want certain things, they no longer count, they are no longer a part of my life. They disappear.