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Kathopanishad-Page 9
p 112-121

Transformation of Desires

[112] Desire and will are close relations, because both have 'Praan' as their last name. Every desire draws vitality away from the will - so if the desire can be resisted, the power saved begins to flow under our control. Interestingly enough, when it comes to something we like, we have that stored controlled power (will) to support it or to fulfill it. Even the big challenges can be dealt with it.

In fact everybody has desires and everybody has will in that desire. If that desire is self-centered, conditioned, our will is turned against us - we do what it commands; and in such life there are no decisions, there are only desires. But when the will is in our control, our Destiny is in our control. In this reference Geetaa says - "The will is our only enemy, the will is our only friend". In western mysticism, the first will (enemy will) is called self-will - the fierce compulsion to please ourselves - get what we want, have something our own way even if it is expense of others. This is the immense power behind all selfish desires. In deep meditation we can see this self-will flowing through our whole personality, conditioning most of our thoughts, speech and actions (what we think, say, and do).

Buddha says - "Desire is suffering". Not at all. Only selfish desires are suffering - in fact they are the source not only of sufferings, but all kinds of sufferings. But desire itself is simply power - it is neither good nor bad. Without the power of desire there can be no progress on any path - be it spiritual or materialistic (of course the path to materialism is sorrowful).

So the whole secret of spiritual transformation is turning a selfish desire into self-less desire - transforming personal passions to attain life's highest goals. People say that it is not possible to defy a strong desire without suffering serious consequences, but meditation helps in this. Maybe you don't succeed in it for a long time, but as you strengthen your will - by resisting all sorts of little selfish desires, you should surely succeed.

This is not called repression, it is called transformation. When you approve a desire, you know how to enjoy it; but when you disapproved it, you had a choice and you know why you disapproved it. Thus will is a tremendous transformer. Every negative Sanskaar (conditioned behavior) can be transformed like this; which means that a personality can be remade completely in the image of your highest ideal. That is what everybody wants.

Clear Seeing

[116] Yam is a precise teacher. If somebody wants to talk to him about mind, he asks - "What part of the mind you are talking about?" There are two parts of mind - one, sometimes called "the lower mind" is the domain of senses, emotions and sensory desires. When we talk about mind, we normally talk about this part of mind. But there is another component of mind, that is "higher mind". According to Easwaran, there is no English word for it, but in Sanskrit it is called "Buddhi". It may be called discriminating intellect or judgment. Its job is to see clearly: to take a long view of a thing and see it as a whole rather just a part of something. Thus this Buddhi can distinguish between Preya and Shreya. To do this, desire and Buddhi (the lower mind and the higher mind) will have to work together.

To make wise choices is the responsibility of many levels of personality (collection of Sanskaar). As one meditates, he makes some discoveries over the years. These discoveries help him to choose. As we know, our body does what our lower mind says to him. Then we approach the Buddhi for help. Lower mind can't think well, it looks up to Buddhi for guidance. Buddhi says, "What can I do without will?" And when you ask will, will shrugs, "Don't come to me, we are not on speaking terms." Thus when will and intellect are not together, one cannot see clearly.

Will is like muscles that focus the eye when these muscles grow weak, usually through he use, things at a distance appear blurry - that is why we say that 'a man with poor judgment can't see anything past his nose'. When the will is weak, the attractions and promises of immediate moment take up the whole vision and judgment hides behind that vision. This is like catching elephants in India. (see the page on Notes Page 9-1) Although elephant is a very intelligent animal , but when a strong desire comes, all they see is sugar cane. But this trap is more than sugar cane - it is sugar cane plus desire - the immediate satisfaction.

So selfish desire is such a kind of glue which cannot be removed easily. Easwaran says - "We can get caught like this in anything on Earth - any occupation, hobby, fashion, philosophy - just anything. We can be glued to opinions, even we can be caught for a lifetime in the pursuit of a particular experience, or to people we love. Whatever it is, once our eyes are glued, we go after it without thinking about their consequences.

This is most common between the relationship of a man and a woman. Both start seeing things which are not there at all. Interestingly enough this is universal phenomenon. Even a genius with an extraordinary IQ can fall for a beautiful face. At that time his intellect closes his eyes. But very soon things which were seen start fading away, or which looked attractive in the beginning now begin to irritate. This is called Compulsive desire - what we want is immediate pleasure, but what we get is glue. When we are glued then only we start seeing things clearly - why? Remember that saying? (see the page on Notes  Page 9-2)




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