What’s wrong with desire…


It was the Buddha who taught that the root cause of all human suffering is desire. Spiritual Masters of all ages have echoed the Buddha’s discovery that desire leads us away from true happiness, not towards it. 

When we desire something, subconsciously we are saying that we need something outside of ourself to be happy, fulfilled and complete. But as spiritual seekers we know that nothing outside ourselves can ever truly fulfill us. It is only the inner treasures — peace, joy, bliss and love — that can fulfill and satisfy us. 

Something that comes from outside, whether material wealth, pleasure, name or fame, can only bring very temporary joy. This outer joy soon withers and we are left with a feeling of emptiness and a hunger for the next kick or thrill. This is exactly the illusion and the trap that desire sets for us. It promises us joy, but instead what we get is frustration and even more desires. 

It was Oscar Wilde who aptly said, “There are only two tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants. The other is getting it.”

When we are caught in the net of desires we are like a donkey who sees a carrot dangling right in front of its nose. The donkey doesn’t realise that the carrot is attached to a pole that is held by a rider on its back. So no matter how long or how fast the donkey runs after the carrot, it can never catch it. The carrot perpetually dangles just out of its reach. 

Sri Chinmoy writes: “Desire is expectation. No expectation, no frustration. Desire killed, true happiness built.”

The way to conquer and overcome desire is through aspiration. Like desire, aspiration also has longing in it. But aspiration longs only for what is already inside us and only for what will truly fulfill us — peace, bliss, joy and love. Aspiration is the antidote for desire. When we meditate daily, we slowly but surely increase the aspiration-force inside us. At the same time the desire-force will decrease. 

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