When you are attached to your desire, life becomes unacceptable. You start living a hidden demand that life be other than it is, and then you start to suffer and cause others to suffer. The present moment isn’t acceptable because you aren’t getting what you want, or you are not who you want to be, or there is something you wish to get rid of. Even if it is a pleasant moment, you worry about the future and wanting to have still more pleasant moments, so you are still being defined by attachment. You are not willing to accept what the future may be, so you suffer in this moment over what is really only a concept. But the future is not here now. It may turn out to be the way you want it to, or you may change your mind about what you want. What you believe will be awful if it happens may turn out to be not so bad or to lead to some unanticipated good alternative.
Do you see how delusional it is to take birth and suffer over something that is not even here? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals for the future, only that you should not be attached to the outcome of your goals. Clinging to the present moment being other than it is or to the future turning out a certain way is pointless. But desire clouds the mind, and once you have taken birth, wisdom disappears, so you do not see how your mind is deluded. As the Tao Te Ching states: Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestation. If not the future, it may be the past that you are clinging to, wanting it to be other than it was. Maybe you had an unhappy childhood, or there was an event in your life that if only it hadn’t happened your life would be different, or you caused harm to yourself or others, or you missed your chance for love or fortune. Outrage, a sense of injustice or cruelty, or a feeling of helplessness may fuel your suffering. In each of these instances, you are filled with the desire that things had been different. Can you see how hopeless and pointless this is?