The Nature of Desire

Bodhinatha gives a wonderful discourse on the nature of desire. Gurudeva never asked us to give up desire. Desire is life. However, on the spiritual path it is important to transmute, to change the form of, desire of grosser things into more subtle things. Transmuting our desires for lower-natured, purely self-gratifying experiences into that which is good for the whole family or community is necessary on the spiritual path.

Unedited Transcript:

Sitting at the Homa this morning, made me realize that the Homa dehydrated me. In the spirit of drinking enough water, I realized I should have a glass of water after the Homa. That is eight glasses a day. If you sit next to a homa, maybe you need nine!

As we mentioned last phase, we are working on the Editorial for the next issue of 'Hinduism Today' and we are still a few words short. So, we are going to speak to that need first of all this morning. As you recall, it is on the philosophical nature of man. Gurudeva's beautiful concept is, "The intrinsic nature of all men is perfect goodness."

Men act in evil ways, it does not reflect that they are still good on the inside. They are still a divine being on the inside. It is just that their outer actions are not reflecting their inner divinity. The goal is not to categorize people into categories of good and evil but, rather to encourage everyone to improve their behavior, whether they are in the good category or in the evil category. We can all benefit by further improving our behavior by further refining ourselves, which is another way of talking about making progress on the spiritual path.

I thought, this morning we could look at one of our most popular concepts from past talks. Iccha, kriya and jnana. Comes back by popular demand this morning! We have the trisula standing there quite nicely next to Gurudeva's shrine and as we know, the trisula is the symbol for iccha shakti, kriya shakti and jnana shakti, the three powers or energies of God Siva. Iccha shakti - the power of desire or thought. Kriya shakti - the power of action. Jnana shakti - the power of wisdom. As we talked about in the past, these powers belong not only to God, but also to each of us. They belong to each soul, as well. We are utilizing them everyday. We do so, in that we have a desire and when that desire becomes strong enough, what do we do? We act on it. If it never gets strong enough, we don't act. But, it all starts with a desire, with a thought. "I would like a cup of coffee." If that thought gets strong enough, you are going to get a cup of coffee, one way or another.

Sometimes for young souls, the action that is conceived of to fulfill the desire is not a very wise one. For example, we see a computer that we want. We want a computer. So, what do we do? We steal it, of course. We want it, we take it. We fulfill our desire, not in a very wise or dharmic way. But, it does happen. We want a car. So, we take somebody's car. We need some money, so we rob a bank. We have a strong need, a strong desire and we are fulfilling it. But, of course, we are not fulfilling it in a wise or a dharmic way. We are fulfilling it in a way which is creating karma, creating major reactions.

The soul goes through repetitions of similar experiences. It is called the 'cycle of experiences'. The cycle of experiences we are talking about here is a basic one, the cycle of fulfilling our material desires by stealing. When someone is in this cycle, they won't do it just once or what happened once. I does not work like that. We are in a cycle. We don't learn the lesson the first time. We don't go iccha-kriya-jnana, when we are in the state of a young soul. It takes a long time to learn the lesson. It can take a few lives to learn the lesson. So, we are learning. Eventually the young soul will learn that, "There is too many complications involved here, when I fulfill my desires for material objects by stealing. I end up in jail, this happens, that happens. Other people get hurt. Maybe there is another way here. Maybe I have to earn the money and buy it." Eventually, that lesson or that jnana dawns on the person. When that happens, we break out of that cycle of experience, iccha-kriya, iccha-kriya, iccha-kriya by having jnana and we move on to a more subtle cycle of behavior. We have improved our behavior through this process, eventually gathering the lesson from the experience. In this case, it is lesson about what we should not do. Therefore, the lesson dawns on us that we should try another approach, an approach that is not so adharmic.

The same process works for dharmic actions as well, which may not be self-evident. The example we chose is, we are helping out at the local temple, with the children's class once a month. We are helping the teachers there teach the class. We like the feeling it gives us. It gives us a wonderful feeling that we are doing something worthwhile for other people, that we are doing something worthwhile in the realm of religion. It makes us feel good on the inside. So, what do we do? We learn from that and we say, "Well, maybe I should do more of this. This seems to really be rewarding." So, instead of just volunteering once a month, we increase the amount we volunteer, because we like the reaction that this action has upon us. It makes us feel good, makes us feel like we are contributing in a worthwhile way, makes us feel more joyful on the inside. So, we up our volunteerism to once a week instead of once a month. We even volunteer to participate in the committee which works out the classes. We have increased our activity, maybe six times or something and the reaction is a good one because we are helping others in a selfless way and a high-minded way. We feel very good about it and, we are encouraged to do more such things in the future. We have learned that, that kind of behavior gives us a feeling that is really nice. Makes us feel joyful and fulfilled and therefore, we are more prone to do those kinds of actions in the future because of the conclusion we came to, because of the wisdom and the lesson we learned that this type of behavior is very fulfilling, makes us feel really good.

Photo of  Gurudeva
We must live in the now to follow the path to enlightenment. In the lower realms of the mind, where time and space seem very real, we are worried about the past or concerned about the future. These two intermingle and limit conscious awareness.