Do you want to be where you are right now? If the answer is no, you’ll be suffering. If the answer is such an enthusiastic yes, that you are planning how to keep or repeat the experience, you’ll also be suffering.
If there is a tendency to seek comfort, security, pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment in a future experience, we will be disconnected from the reality of the present moment. Planning, seeking, craving, hoping, rehearsing, fantasizing, worrying and anxiety are mental habits that all share an element of seeking something that isn’t currently present.
Recently I was inspired by a comment by Ajahn Brahm about wanting to be where you are. Playing with this simple instruction I have been periodically reminding myself to want to be here. Each time I remember, I accept the invitation to settle with whatever is actually happening, pleasant or unpleasant—to find contentment with what is real.
In the Abhidhamma classification of mental factors, the occasional factor of desire is not so very occasional. It is a feature of every wholesome state, and all the unwholesome states rooted in greed and hate. It is classified as “occasional” because it is absent in delusion based states of restlessness and doubt. The relatively pervasive presence of desire implies that it serves an important function—to want to be with the object that is currently being known, to have desire for the object of consciousness.
Now some people might say that they don’t want to be having their experience. Aversive states, however, rely upon the mind moving in reaction to the object. Aversion and attraction are both aspects of this force of desire.
Watch the wanting and the not-wanting mind. See if you can sense the craving that feeds either reaction. And then perhaps you might settle into the possibility of simply restricting desire to states that are currently present.
Try wanting to be where you are. Try wanting to be experiencing what is actually happening. Try wanting to have the experience that you are having, just because you are having it anyway.
I have found a deep ease develop through this simple reflection—a reduction from the craving that wants an imagined future pleasure, to a contentment and intimacy with present experience.