Desires: Motivators or Destructors
Yesterday I wrote that the mind can be magnificent, but that it can also be our worst enemy. The mind does what the mind does: it thinks. Thoughts arise, the mind processes the thought.
The mind is seldom the root cause of our problems. Life’s challenges become overwhelming because we invest in the minds process, we believe our thoughts. This belief is what makes the thoughts, themselves, real. This validation empowers the thoughts and creates our problems.
In the mind is where we entertain our desires.
The mind is going to desire. That is what the mind does. Out of these desires come all great inventions. From these dreams spring all great works of humanity.
Many of the philosophies I have studied over the years stress the need to rid the mind of desires. Personally, I do not think that is possible. As long as we are in human form and have a functioning mind, we are going to desire. Desires, alone, do not create our problems.
We have choices about how we deal with our desires. It is in the execution of these choices that desires become either motivators or destructors.
Attaching “need” to my desires creates problems. Right now I am dreaming of a nice SLR Digital Camera. The one I want is about $ 1,200.00. All the money I have, right now, is already promised to bills and other plans.
I have no attachment to my desire for a new camera. I have investigated cameras and identified which one I want (at least for now), I placed a picture of the camera on my dream board, and I let it go. Next time I have an extra $ 1,200.00 I will buy this item.
The point is, this desire has no power over my life. I will get this camera, or one better, sooner or later. Having it or not having it has no power over the joy I feel this morning as I sit witnessing an exquisite sunrise.
This is a pretty silly example, but one I chose because it is real to me and it is one everyone can relate to. What happens, however, when the desire is tied to our self-identity? This is where desires become dangerous.
I have seen many people in my life who felt incomplete when they were not in an intimate relationship with some significant other. While loving relationships greatly enhance our day-to-day experience, the need for such relationship finds its roots in desire. Humans thrive when they love and feel loved, but such awareness is expressed through human relationships; it is not born there.
When the quest for a significant human relationship is determined to be a requirement for a happy, peaceful experience, such a desire can be very destructive. If I am trying to fill some emptiness within me by seeking a relationship with another, I am elevating desire to a harmful level.
Under this scenario, my choice to make attainment, of that which I desire, a prerequisite for my happiness is a misuse of my power. Such an ill-advised investment of my power is the source of my unhappiness, not the original desire itself.
To return to my example, if I obsessed about needing the camera, and found myself lying awake at night plotting ways to achieve my goal, my investment in my desire would take me out of my present moment awareness. It would place some condition on the joyous experience of this instant, which simply need not exist.
Giving our desires this sort of empowerment is what creates most of the problems we have in life. I either want something I do not have or do not want something I do have. This is a game the mind plays over and over. If I am serious about wanting to live in peace, it is my work to see the folly in this game.
Consider these words from Swami Sivananda: “A desire arises in the mind. It is satisfied; immediately another comes. In the interval which separates two desires a perfect calm reigns in the mind. It is at this moment freed from all thought, love or hate. Complete peace equally reigns between two mental waves.”
This, my friends, is where the wisest use of our energy resides. Dwelling in the quiet between the rising and waning desires is the best way to invest the precious moments we have, in this physical experience.
The mind is going to desire. It is actually a wonderful gift. We are not our minds. We are the witness, the awareness, which observes the mind. From this observer perspective we have the power to live in peace or to choose otherwise.
At least for today, I am choosing peace.