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Open to Desire: The Truth about what the Buddha Taught
by Mark Epstein

Mark Epstein is a practicing psychiatrist in New York city. He is also an experienced meditator who advocates for the value of meditation in psychotherapy. Likely due to his background with Buddhism he has had his share of Buddhist patients/clients and this perhaps peaked his interest in the nature of one’s relationship to desire (his Buddhist patients were struggling to ‘rise above’ their wants and desires). The Buddha’s four noble truths seek to elucidate understanding of the nature of suffering. The first truth is often translated as ‘life is suffering’, with the root of suffering often seen as resting with our relationship to our desires. Negate desire--end suffering. Epstein’s delves a bit deeper into Buddhist thought and explains that the Buddha likely meant that the human experience of ‘pervasive dissatisfaction’ in relation to desire is what causes suffering. According to Epstein, Freud called this the ‘unbridgeable gap’ between our desires and satisfaction. From this premise Epstein advocates ‘opening to desire’ as a key to deepening intimacy and understanding of one’s self and in our intimate relationships. He includes bits from his interactions with his patients. It’s a good read. Other books by Epstein are Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, and Going on Being.

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