Always! if Chapter one is any guide, i.e., Always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations. Desire and attachment, what’s the difference?
I think of desire as the glue of attachment, which makes them pretty synonymous in my book. (Of course beneath it all is the foundation: need and fear.)
Saying attachment is always good is perhaps being facetious. Still, I find non-attachment can be a little hairy when it goes too far. After all, life and attachment go hand in hand (i.e., they correlate: life=attachment, death=detachment).
Reading the correlated version of this is interesting: Life attaches death; Death detaches life. Saying that death detaches life is obvious; saying that life attaches death is more subtle.
life -> attaches
detaches <- death
Ridding yourself of desires can become as precarious as having too many desires. Non attachment (having as few desires as possible) is a fine balancing goal when one is loaded down with attachment (whether attachment to things or beliefs). However, much has fallen by the wayside as I’ve aged, to a point now where I increasingly find myself on the “few” side of this coin. Sure enough, allowing myself to have desire(1) is as difficult as ridding myself of them used to be. As gentle as it sounds, ‘allowing’ is no more realistic than ‘free willing‘ myself.
Now this is what I call natural justice. It makes the whole idea of desiring not to desire seem nonsensical. In other words, I desire not to be full only when I feel stuffed. Is this any different than blonds who want to be brunette versus brunettes who want to be blond? Oh well, at least the Tao Te Ching is balanced nonsense—rid yourself of desires; allow yourself to have desires.
(1) Lau’s interpretation, “Allow yourself to have desires…” can be a little misleading. The literal Chinese is closer to this: Hence, normally without desire so as to observe its wonder. Normally have desire so as to observe its fate.
Personally, I never had a problem allowing myself to have desire in the sense of giving myself permission. To the contrary, I’ve often gone overboard in the allowing department. The literal Chinese has a simpler matter-of-factness to it. Simply saying have desires avoids the moral connotation that saying allow desires might evoke.