Saturday, July 4, 2009


Understanding and coping with our desires is what spirituality is all about. Many believe that unless you are passionate about what you are doing, you don't live up to your potential. This might be true, but don't forget that the spiritual traveler will eventually transcend all desires. Similarly, if you numb your existing desires just because a guru or a book tells you to, you probably will miss out on life as well. So how can we steer through this confusing jungle? Only one person in the world that can guide you through it, and that is you and your inner voice.

I think there are three kind of desires, those you should pursue to burn them off eventually, those that you need to suppress to reach a different goal, and your false desires, i.e. those that you can put aside like old worn clothes, but you don't know it yet.

The desires that you need to deal with in your life is what the famous passion test is all about. For some it is power, some accumulating wealth, and for most of us it's sex. Some need to write spiritual books to be happy, and some have to build hospitals in Africa. Whatever you do to be fulfilled, you are doing it for your own spiritual evolution. God could build His own schools and hospitals, if He wanted to, Sri Ramakrishna used to say. You are probably more evolved spiritually if you build schools rather than an empire, but you do it for your own good nevertheless. Eventually, you grow out of your desire. I bet you Alexander the Great was done with the power game after he had conquered the world. I also bet you that Henry Miller was done with the sex thing when he reached 60.

Then there are the desires that we suppress to get something else. Take marriage for example. We take a vow that we will only have one sexual partner for the rest of the life. The desire to have sex with others doesn't go away, so we cannot help but to channel this energy and frustration into a different area. Suppressing desires is a little like building a dam. Artificially created, you see a beautiful calm lake. But water is running at an incredible speed into a turbine, powering different things. Some claim you have to suppress your sexual urges to better achieve the highest spiritual experience, samadhi. I don't know whether this is true, but you certainly can experiment with the concept.

Then there are artificial desires. That are those that are projected by the ego, but if you manage to look through them, you actually find that you are better off without them. I have made a small discovery in this direction at work. I try to resist the temptation to steer every conversation into my direction. Instead, I let life set the agenda for me, without sacrificing my ideas. You find that you are better off that way. If you put yourself deliberately behind, a force puts you in front. It works like magic.

So live your right desires to the fullest until you can honestly say, been there, done that. Suppress some desires to mold the life you want to live, and overcome the ego to find your hidden true intentions. The problem of course is which desire is which, but that's what your life's journey and your spiritual path is all about.

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