The second volume of the Middle Way Philosophy series, The Integration of Desire, is now published. Click here for more details and to purchase. An ebook will also be available soon. Also see my previous blog post on this book.
We like to think of ourselves as single selves, but when we examine our experience, it is full of conflicts of desire. One minute we want one thing, and the next something else – perhaps something completely contradictory. I may want to eat fatty or sugary food one minute, and lose weight the next; or I might want to concentrate on meditation one minute, and think about something else the next. This conflict is a microcosm of the conflicts in society between groups or even nations. We often mistakenly think of people, groups, or nations as conflicting, but this book argues that it is desires that conflict, and it is desires that need integrating.
To integrate desires, we don’t succeed just by eliminating or repressing the desire we don’t want at the moment – it’s not as easy as that. Instead, we need to bring the energies of these desires and allow them to work together. This book brings together ideas from Buddhism, philosophy, psychology and politics on how to integrate rather than repress desires. It also sees this process as morally important and constitutive of objectivity – not just a matter of therapy or compromise.