"Desire is a natural response to the reality of suffering. We feel incomplete and desire completeness; we feel unrest and desire ease; we feel insecurity and desire comfort; we feel alone and desire connection. Our experience of life, our very personalities, are shaped by dukkha, and our response is infused with desire. Desire is the crucible within which the self is formed. This is why it was so important to Freud and why it remains the essential kernel of psychotherapy. If we are out of touch with our desires, we cannot be ourselves. In this way of thinking, desire is our vitality, an essential component of our human experience, that which gives us our individuality and at the same time keeps prodding us out of ourselves. Desire is a longing for completion in the face of the vast unpredictability of our predicament. It is 'the natural,' and if it is chased away it returns with a vengeance.
"In the Sufi tradition, human yearning is understood to be a reflection of God's desire to be known. To the Sufi, God is hidden but wishes to be found. The clue to God's presence lies in the depth of our longing. Only by dwelling in the insatiable, and infinite, quality of desire can the Sufi begin to appreciate God's nature. . . . The actual word that the Buddha used to describe the cause of dukkha was not desire, it was tanha, which means 'thirst,' or 'craving.' It connotes what we might also call clinging: the attempt to hold on to an ungraspable experience, not the desire for happiness or completion. As a therapist who spent the last thirty years engaged in an integration of Buddhism with psychotherapy, I have seen how crucial this distinction can be. To set desire up as the enemy and then try to eliminate it is to seek to destroy one of our most precious human qualities, our natural response to the truth of suffering. Buddhism was not intended to be a path of destruction, it was a path of self-understanding. It did not seek to divide and conquer, it sought wholeness and integration. Hidden within its vast panoply of teachings, in fact, was a way of working with desire that completely contradicts the usual interpretation of Buddhism as encouraging renunciation and detachment."