Desire, which starts out wanting to control, possess, merge with or otherwise do something to or with an object, eventually finds that the object is not object enough for its liking. At this point, there's a fork in the road. In one direction lies clinging, the attempt to make the object more than it can be; and in the other direction lies non-clinging, where the gap between what is expected and what is actually found can be tolerated. This second direction — the left-handed path — requires a shift in consciousness and a training of the mind. It does not come naturally. . . .

In opening up this alternative strategy, we enter the less familiar territory of an intuitive knowing that is only possible once we learn to discipline our own minds. Desire, in this way of thinking, becomes its own yoga. Its very arising makes it possible to train our minds to work differently. In an apocryphal statement attributed to James Joyce, he once described the attention that is necessary to look at a work of art as "beholding." If the viewer gets too close to an artwork it becomes pornography or if he gets too distant it becomes criticism. Beholding art means giving it enough space to let it speak to us, to let us find it, even if we do not completely understand what we are looking at. The left-handed path opens up this capacity for beholding. When we discover that the object is beyond our control, unpossessable and receding from our grasp, we have the opportunity to enter the space that Joyce was referring to. When we take the left-handed path, we learn to give the object its freedom. . . .

Mark Epstein, Open to Desire