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8-Will and Desire

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Kathopanishad-Page 8
p 98-112

Will and Desire

[98] Desire is the key to life. Why? Because desire is power. The deeper or the stronger the desire, the more power it contains. In support of this, Upanishad say -

A man is what his deep driving desire is.
As his deep driving desire, so is his will.
As his will is, so is his deed.
As his deed is, so is his destiny.

Desire is a river of Praan, flowing along the channels made by Sanskaar. Who has many small desires, his Praan also flows in many different directions. There is not much power in them because they are very little. His vitality is distributed. But who has only a few desires, his power is more than the person who has several small desires. But imagine the one who has only one powerful desire - how powerful he will be. Nothing can stop him dong something, rather whatever will come in his path he would remove it or destroy it. So get one good desire and better harness its power.

[100] What is power? Power is the capacity to work. Work is the energy to be required to move a definite mass a definite distance. No movement, no work; no work, no power. When a craving for coffee can take a man to a coffee shop at a distance of three miles, then a very definite mass is propelled three miles simply by one tiny desire - to have a cup of coffee. Now just think, when there is so much power in such a small desire, then how much more power will be in an addiction, or in a powerful passion, or in a powerful desire.

Hindu and Buddhist mystics believe that we have come into this life only to fulfill our unfulfilled desires of past lives which as unconscious drives, or Sanskaar, shape everything we do in our lives. Childhood interests, likes and dislikes in schools, choice of working, the person we marry - all are molded by these deep driving desires.

[101] This can be seen in particular in a genius person who is focused to his very goal of life from the very beginning. His desires, Sanskaar take the way as an animal follows a scent. Ancient Greek had a saying - "When the gods want us to punish, they give us desires." Wherever our desires are, there is our Praan - our capacity to live, to love, to enjoy. Have you read the Greek story of Midas? How a deep money-making Sanskaar can condition even our perception that we forget what we are asking for.

Will Quotient

[103] The power and desire is the power of will. Every desire carries with it the will to bring that desire to fruition. Strength comes not from physical capacity, it comes from strong will. If the will is strong enough, anything (any desire) can be accomplished. So, maybe, this 'will quotient' (WQ - strength of will) is more powerful than intelligence quotient (IQ). An ordinary person can go forward with his powerful will, while an intelligent person may be left behind because of his weak will. Procrastination stabs a hole in will - it makes the will weaker.

Many failures in life are because of weak will. Even to be kind with anybody, we need a strong will. Many a times we do not necessarily mean to hurt the other person, but we simply just cannot control ourselves in what we say and what we do. And often we excuse ourselves on flimsy grounds. In daily life a strong will often shows as an inner toughness - the endurance to put up with difficulties without breaking or giving up. Consider ourselves at the mercy of life without this endurance.

We draw a surprising conclusion out of this - a rigid personality is not a strong personality, it is weak - because its will is fragile. Wherever desires run deep, the will can operate, elsewhere it is paralyzed. On the other hand, those people whose will is uniformly strong, can always adapt. They function beautifully, no matter what life brings to them. Such people are free, they enjoy life - its ups and downs.

Forest of Desires

[105] Our will becomes weaker as we say, "let me just taste it", or "how does it matter". These sentences weaken the will. Buddha says - "Selfish desires grow much like trees - first seedling, then tiny plants, and then big trees, and finally turning into a dense forest where no light can penetrate." In the beginning these desires are harmless, but once they spring up, circumstances seem to shape that they are easy to be fulfilled. But they grow very soon into a dense forest - at that time nothing can be seen, nothing can be done, don't know where to start clearing up the space to see something or to do something.

The Great Race

[108] Will and desire are competitors in a long race - a race that goes for years. All the bets are on desire, not on will (while it should be otherwise). Will should be trained and strengthened so that desire can be controlled, not that desire should be strengthened so that it could be fulfilled. As soon as the will is trained and strengthened, it can crush the desire to dust.

As there are exercises to strengthen the different parts of body, there is a powerful exercise to strengthen our will too - that is resisting any conditioned self-centered desire. Whether that desire is for sensory pleasure, or it may be more Subtle (means the demand something to have our own way, or to conform others to our own way). Whatever it is, if we give up to that desire, our will is weakened; but if we resist  it, the will is strengthened. This kind of training has to be practiced with sensibility not just blindly, such as 'if it is unpleasant, it is good for me'. Do not deprive yourself for a glass of orange juice, just because you desire it. You may start first thing in the morning, when it is unutterably pleasant to sleep; but when you have decided to get up, don't think twice, just throw the blanket and get up for your meditation. It wakes the will up fast. Hesitation, like procrastination weakens the will.

As Yam said, "Preya and Shreya come to us throughout the day' - the more we look, the more we find. Being kind, staying patient, not teasing anybody at the expense of others, trying to work out your differences harmoniously - forming all these habits strengthen the will. In all fairness just a little training will is ready to compete with even an unchallenged desire; and once it starts getting training, it gains the ground everyday.

And finally comes the most thrilling moment of the spiritual development - your will is unbreakable. What may be called 'right desires' - desires that benefit all, including yourself, can be as strong as they like. When the will runs ahead of desires, nothing can become an obsession in your path of progress.




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