All being knows desire in elemental ways, for water, for food, for sustenance: and many beings also know desire for air, and most creatures and plants know desire for relationship in some form, and for care. We come into being with these primordial desires, this hunger, this longing – we don’t make it up[i]. Each being has an energy-need and desire to unfold into being. Yet, desire unchecked, even in the smallest of creatures, without resistance, would destroy the Earth. As Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry express it in their book The Universe Story, “The desire of a single pair of aphids, if satisfied, would destroy the Earth”[ii]: and they develop and explain how that is so.
We are all hungry, desire sustenance for the self, and will strive for it: that is organic to being. Yet also, desire draws forth what is sought, co-creates what is needed. Desire maybe not so much a grasping, as a receiving, an ability or capacity to open and dissolve[iii].
Greed could be interpreted as an aberration of desire, as desire unchecked: a failure to graciously receive the infinite daily abundance, to acknowledge what is actually present and gift of each moment. Thomas Berry is known to have said to Brian Swimme as a waitress poured them a cup of coffee, that her act was one of “infinite generosity”, and that it took the entire Universe to bring them the cup of coffee: he told Brian that he would “never be able to fully pay for the cup of coffee[iv]. And that is a deep truth of each moment and all that is consumed.
The old patriarchal prayer by the name of “Our Father” asks: “Give us this day our daily bread”, but the deep truth is that it is given – the Earth is abundant, usually this is so in places where humans and creatures have settled or wandered; what is more the problem is the receiving of it. There is also the trying to control the distribution of that abundance, for personal gain: and then we come back to an aberration of desire, a lack of gracious receiving and acknowledgement of the gift. The Matricentric version of the prayer (“Our Mother”) might express: “We graciously receive your infinite daily abundance”[v]: we receive your gift. And also: “Thy desire is felt throughout the Cosmos”. There is nothing wicked about desire, it is essential to existence: it is primordial and holy. Maybe it just needs to be received instead of grasped: open to its co-creation.
Glenys Livingstone 2019
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.
Swimme, Brian. Canticle to the Cosmos. DVD series, 1990.
_____________ The Universe is a Green Dragon. Santa Fe: Bear & Co., 1984.
[i]This understanding of desire is inspired by Brian Swimme, Canticle to the Cosmos, video 5; and also by the Allurement chapter in his book The Universe is a Green Dragon.
[iii]Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p.252.
[iv]I don’t remember my source for that story.
[v]Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p. 259.