Home | Upanishad | Kath

18-The Unification of Desires

Previous | Next

Kathopanishad-Page 18
p 210-224

The Unification of Desires

[210] When we are passing through these changes, the desire for self-realization is getting strengthened, slowly weakening the selfish desires. For a long time, often years, we cannot get hold of our deeper desires, but as we come face to face with them, then only the real battle begins. Kaam and Raam cannot live in the same house. Kaam is greed - selfish desire, and Raam is God's name that signifies the lasting joy of the Self.

The Self is very careful to set up his house. When we invite Him to come in, He wants to see the deed. He comes inside, looks around and finds the clues of somebody else living in the house. We have to accept that it is Kaam which has been living here for a long time, but we assure Him that from now on he will live in basement and the rest of the house will be His. Says Self - "I think you better keep it for now, let me know when it is empty."

This is the central problem of Saadhanaa, that Kaam will simply not go and since he looks so much our own, we cannot also throw him out. We may tell him to go but our eyes will follow him begging him to stay. But if we ask him to go with our whole heart, he will just walk away and will never look back.

Saint Augustine describes this conflict in his autobiography - "Confessions". He wrote it at the age of 31 - the 12-year struggle in his heart had grown so fierce that it threatened to pull him in two parts - "Lord, How can I find rest anywhere else when I am made to rest in thee?"  He writes - "I was bound not by another man's chains but by my own iron Self-will. My desires were in enemy's hands and he had made a chain of it to hold me down."

Description is clear. Compulsive desires are chains and it takes as much strength to break them as to make them. Why not then make a positive Sanskaar and break the chain? Nothing prevents it except our desires and the idea that we cannot live without these chains. And pleasure is such a delicate and beautiful chain, so comfortable to wear. The Buddha says - "All the stronger for being soft, all the harder to break for seeming so alluring."

St Augustine continues - "My will had been bent," - bent by the Ego; it is not the will but Self-will. "And a will that is bent, becomes selfish desire. Desire yielded to becomes habit, and if a habit is not resisted, it becomes a compulsion. With these links joined one to the other... a hard and a hard bondage held me in its grip. The links are the repetitions which make a chain. If we keep yielding to a desire - once, twice, ten times, a hundred times - it becomes a habit. If we do not yield, that also becomes a habit. One habit binds us, the other one frees us. We all have the choice of Sanskaar, we can become what we desire.

St Augustine gives the secret of victory - "I was in both camps, but there was a little more of me on the side I approved, than on the side I disapproved... for it had become more a matter of unwillingly experiencing my desires than of doing something that I actively wanted." This is the turning point. The desire is still there, but he is losing his identification with it, because underneath is the desire to go against desire. "It was I who who willed and I who was unwilling, it was I. I did not wholly will; I was not wholly unwilling. Therefore I fought with myself and was distracted by myself."

Strategy is practical. Little by little, as concentration deepens and your will grows strong, you keep the mind on your side longer and longer. When a desire tries to pull you in opposite direction, you withdraw your attention from that desire - that is bringing its power to your own side. When all desires are pulling you in the same direction, the will is unified from top to bottom and we are ready for the climax of our Saadhanaa. Even after a lot of training, everybody feels a little intimidated when the fight begins in earnest.

[214] It is going to be a long hard fight. It is now that you need a second loving experienced teacher who does not allow you to escape. Whether it is anger, or fear, or lust, even if you try with all your will to banish them from your mind, your efforts will not be of much use. You see the Sanskaar, take a swing, and then that Sanskaar is somewhere else. If you will swing really hard, you may break one or two bones, or dislocate a joint which amuses the Sanskaar greatly. Sanskaar have a rather low sense of humor and no sense of honor at all.

If you are trying to break a chain of any bad Sanskaar, you will hurt yourself for a long time, why? because of the weight of the Sanskaar; but if you are bent upon winning the bad Sanskaar, you don't care for anything, all you care is to hit it hard and win. You go on like this for years. Although very few have will to train themselves continuously, but in Saadhanaa, success goes to those only who train themselves 24-hours a day. The usual process is that in the morning you are one hundred per cent enthusiastic and slowly coming down to evening it remains only ten per cent. It should not be like this, it should be a sustained enthusiasm.

The Razor's Edge

[216] Yam encourages us in this battle with words that are the most famous in all spiritual literature --

"Get up, Wake up, Seek the guidance of an,
Illuminated teacher and realize the Self,
Sharp like a razor's edge is the path,
The sages say, difficult to traverse."

This kind of skill can be learned only from an experienced one, not from a book. You continuously burn your selfish desires and attachments. After some time there is joy beneath this suffering. how much more necessary is a good teacher on the spiritual path? Only he is able to give us strength and show the right path in breaking the chains. Because we think that these chains are a part of our feelings, thinking and being, then how it is possible to remove something that you believe is a part of you, bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh.

Compulsive desires cannot be cast aside simply because we do not want to cast them aside otherwise they would not be compulsive. And we do not cast them aside because they are pleasant. To let them go, we must have a greater and stronger desire, a passionate and deeper desire. For some things in life you never ask their price.

Closing the Circle

In these last stages of Saadhanaa, we are trying to keep consciousness in a continuous unbroken channel. First morning and evening period are set for meditation, then this time is extended through the rest of the day. While we are working on something, we do it, but then again start our Mantra. This process should be smooth from morning to night and through the night till morning again. It is like linking two ends bringing them together so that there is no leakage at all. At the beginning of the Saadhanaa, this may not seem much like achievement, but it helps. All the thoughts that could not get our attention will just rush in, if we give them an opening. Last to be closed are the hours of night time. As you begin to wake up inside, to keep your mind wandering off, you have to hang on to your Mantra, and the fight is on.

At this stage concentration is really deep, you do not allow any other thought to come in, but then you become aware of other thoughts waiting to enter. Sri Aurobindo explains it - "Maayaa sees that you are about to escape from her forever, she does not like it and so she tries her best to hold you back. Great saints may endure great temptations, but we smaller people will have smaller ones, but everybody has to face these feats." As long as you cling on to your Mantra, those thoughts cannot move you, but if somehow you get out of this, then your Sansakaar will beat you up. Although they will not finish you off, but certainly they will draw all your Praan out of your body. Don't be panicky, just stick to your Mantra and don't let them come in, eventually they will get tired and will go away.

This goes on in sleep too. You are in deep unconscious, yet you have to learn to wake up in unconscious. The whole mind will be flooded with light. This usually happens in stages. When you are in deep sleep, part of you is awake with a little will, and that part tries to repeat the Mantra. Sometimes you cannot even remember it. It is a challenge and even at this stage there are rewards. You may suddenly hear the "mystic sound" for which the nearest approximation in sensory sound is the word "Om". You cannot anticipate it, but you will just, suddenly, hear it. It is such a tremendous experience that saint Francis says  that if it had gone on longer, so sweet was the sound that his body would have melted away.

If all this seems agonizing, it is the most delicious agony in Saadhanaa. Words cannot describe these experiences that all kinds of languages fall back here. In these last stages, the Sufi say all veils but one have fallen off from object of our desire. We can make out the features of the whole body of our Beloved but nothing clearly. All our desires disappear behind the overwhelming longing to tear that last veil aside.

Everyday there is delightful pain of separation. You expect the veil to fall down the very same moment, but still you are prepared to wait another day. Mystics everywhere speak this way and scholars just throw up their hands and leave because they want rational talk and all they get is contradiction. It is not that the mystics are wrong, the inadequacy lies in language that it cannot express it. Give them the language that embraces opposites, that transcends the senses then they will express this.

This situation is like waiting for the curtain to be lifted to see that play for which you have been waiting for years. You are seated in the first row, theater is full, lights have been dimmed, and everybody is still, breathless. Behind the curtain you see only the glimpses of activities going around. Every morning in meditation, every evening as you fall asleep, it is as if the whole Universe is waiting for the play to begin. And finally, just when you do not expect it, the curtain rises and you are lifted out of Time into the Unitive state, that is beyond change, beyond death.




Home | Upanishad | Kath


Previous | Next

Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 06/09/11