Desire leads to suffering when it’s not fulfilled, or when there is a sense of hopelessness towards the possibility of its fulfilment. It’s not the desire that causes suffering, but it does become a potential cause of suffering because once there is a desire there is also the sense of its “lack” until it’s fulfilled. However, there is no point discussing about the state of being “desire free” or “desireless”, such a state cannot exist in life-energy – it’s a state of delusion to imagine that you, as an entity created from life-energy, can ever reach a point of being “desire free”, it’s inherently not possible because it’s not in the nature of life-energy to ever “stop” moving, and movement is always a result of a desire. So, in other words, life-energy cannot stop desiring.
There are some scriptures that deify the state of being free of desires, it’s just a deluded aspiration coming from a misplaced understanding of life-energy – mostly expounded by people who are not truly aware of the nature of life-energy. In fact, the very motivation to be “free of desire” is, in itself, a desire to start with, so it makes the whole argument moot. The desire to be “free of desires” is fine as a desire, but it’s a desire that can never find fulfillment because it goes against the nature of life-energy – so it’s akin to a dog chasing its tail, an endless pursuit.
Again, it’s not desire that creates suffering, rather it’s the lack of its fulfillment that does. Also, considering that you can never be desire free, the only way to stay free of suffering would be to experience fulfillment of your desire or at-least work towards the fulfilment of your desire – the state of fulfillment can last for a certain period of time, sometimes hours, sometimes days, sometimes a few years, but eventually a new desire will surface, and the cycle starts all over again. It’s an endless cycle, but it’s part of our reality as beings created from life-energy and it’s best to embrace this reality instead of fighting it, instead of trying to suppress it or being deluded about it.
When a desire is manifested, and you get to experience what you desired, it will create a sense of fulfillment in you. It should be understood that “fulfillment” is simply a temporary state created by the lack of any immediate/important desire and it will continue as long as a new desire (of importance) does not arise. The more important a desire is, the more suffering it will create during the lack of its fulfillment, and the fact remains that you cannot dictate the importance of a desire and you cannot really control when/how, and why, it arises. It’s not really of any use to understand “why” a desire arose, it’s quite pointless, what is of importance is to understand that you are going to feel “suffering” until you fulfil this desire and hence it’s pivotal to start working towards its fulfilment.
Different beings have different desires depending on their journey, their awareness, their past experiences and current perceptions. Your desire is very personal to you, and it’s subject to your current position in your journey of life. On earth, which is a collective reality, where there are many beings present, there can be all kinds of propaganda where some beings try to argue that their desire is “better” than the others or why some “desires” should not exist in the first place – including several spiritual teachers who propagate the state of being “desire free” or the preachers who label some desires in a negative manner. As scandalous as it might sound, but every desire has its place and is equally important to the being who is subject to it. We can have opinions, judgements, reservations and intolerance, towards the desires of others (especially the ones that don’t fit in with our sense of propriety), but it’s important to realize that different being have different journeys based on their makeup (and their current awareness), and you may not be able to understand what the other being is going through because you don’t understand their makeup – because your makeup may be completely different from that being.
We live in a collective reality, and the desires of other beings can infringe on our desire. So, its normal to feel fearful, or intolerant, towards the desire of others – however, it’s just a challenge that we need to deal with, as a part of existing in a collective reality which also brings with it the advantage of diversity of experiences, and there are many times when the desire of others in turn help manifest your own desires. However, it’s very possible (and common) for the desires of others to infringe upon your desires, to a point where your desires may be squashed in the wake of the desires of a more powerful being, this is a real challenge while co-existing in a collective reality but it has to be taken in it’s stride and you need to stay focused on your desire instead of powerlessly submitting to a situation. The fact that your desires feel squashed is simply a reflection of your current state of power (or lack of it), it’s simply a calling towards developing the attitude of standing true to yourself, of not dis-regarding yourself as someone undeserving, of letting go of your own inner conflicts that causes you to second guess yourself to the point of relinquishing your desire to accommodate others. Existing in a collective reality is an opportunity of inner growth, where you get to learn about developing the power to stand your ground, of cherishing what’s important to you in the midst of resistance from the “outside”, of developing power, of relinquishing the attitude of submitting to weakness and knowing your worth as an independent being in life who is as deserving as anyone else because in the end you are a creation of life-energy as much as any other being.
There are essentially 2 types of desires that human-beings experience:
- The desire for freedom
- The desire for experiencing something enjoyable
It’s useful to understand the dynamics of each of the above types of desires
The desire for freedom
Being stuck creates a feeling of suffocation in us, it’s the nature of the life-energy to be in movement and hence when life-energy feels impeded there is a build up of pressure within, which is experienced as a sense of suffocation. Our bodies, and soul, are created from life-energy and hence are subject to the nature of life-energy – in other words, it’s in our nature as souls/humans to desire movement. Freedom is just another name for the ability to move without fetters or resistance. The desire for freedom is the basic instinct in us, and at different points in our life we will find ourselves in a position where our chief desire is to seek freedom from a situation, person/community, afflictions or even beliefs. For example, when a situation infringes on our freedom of movement, it starts creating a suffocation within and there is a strong desire towards quitting/escaping/destroying that situation in some way and everyday that you continue to exist in that situation is suffering.
The desire for experiencing something enjoyable
When you choose to incarnate in a physical reality, like earth, you experience this reality via a body/brain which is programmed to find something more enjoyable than the others, it’s programmed to find something to be more beautiful/attractive/aesthetic than the others, it’s programmed to have preferences and inclinations. While you are incarnate in this human body, the desires of this body/brain/heart have to be adopted as your own (you being the soul that incarnates in this body). If you don’t believe in the aspect of “souls”, then you can simply think of yourself as this body/mind and be cognizant of the desires in you. In this physical body, some of the desires are sensory – to see, to touch, to taste, to smell, to hear, something beautiful (here I use “beautiful” as an umbrella term to encompass all that’s enjoyable), while some of the desires are purely emotional – enjoying a mental state, enjoying the feel of someone’s presence, enjoying an inner state of peace etc. So, basically desires, in the physical realm, are sensory or emotional, and sometimes they’re inter-twined where the sensory aspects create the emotion and vice-versa. In the end, it’s a desire for enjoyment, either via your senses or emotions.
The desire for freedom is a “primary desire”, while desire for enjoyment is “secondary”. The primary desire is always more important than the secondary, in the absence of the primary desire the secondary desires can become important. In other words, the desire for freedom is of primary importance, and a being who feels the desire for freedom is usually going through a lot of suffocation, depression and stress – it’s of utmost importance to seek fulfilment of a desire for freedom, the desire for enjoyment cannot even start coming to fore fully until the desire for freedom is first fulfilled. The beings who are working on their desire for freedom are usually going through a lot of suffering compared to beings who feel fulfilled from the “freedom” perspective and are chiefly focused on their desires for enjoyment. Feelings of depression, intense frustration, stress and suffocation, are primary indicators that you are in a place where you are desiring freedom – in many cases, in this physical reality, it’s the desire for freedom from a situation, it could be an unhealthy environment, it could be a debilitating relationship, it could be a soul-wrenching job or it could be a disabled physicality.
It might seem that the desire for freedom is akin to the desire for enjoyment, but the basic distinction is the energy being it – the desire for freedom stems from a sense of feeling imprisoned or stuck, while the desire for enjoyment stems from the need to indulge. Feeling stuck creates a lot more suffering than the absence of a certain indulgence, because the absence of freedom creates a resistance towards the inherent/primary nature of life-energy which seeks movement. A lot of us are conditioned to ignore our primary desire for freedom and find joy in our secondary desires, existing in such a situation is akin to living in a “golden cage” where you might be privy to some indulgences (which can bring some comfort) but essentially feel a heavy sense of suffering within due to the “stuck” state that you are experiencing. You cannot override your desire for freedom using your desire for enjoyment, they are mutually exclusive and fulfilment of one cannot fulfil the other. If you have the desire for freedom, you must work towards its fulfilment, in a lot of ways this desire is intrinsically linked to your growth and it cannot be replaced, or satiated, through any other indulgence.
You may want to exercise wisdom while seeking fulfilment of your desires for enjoyment, because indulgences need to be balanced in some way (the balance of light and dark) and in a collective reality it’s important to ensure that our indulgence does not create undue suffering for others (though we cannot always ensure that others don’t suffer because of our desire). Also, your desire for freedom can create suffering for others who would prefer your current state of being under their power, or serving their happiness, but keeping others happy at the cost of your own suffering is not an optimal trade-off and in the long run it will leave you feeling weak, meaningless and suffocated. Being “selfless” in the sense of suppressing your desire is not an elevated state, rather it’s a misplaced idea that’s not aligned with the nature of life-energy that we are. In this collective reality, we need to accommodate others, and there are some compromises that need to be made as a part of wisdom and responsibility, but one has to weigh the consequences of certain choices and decisions to ensure that it doesn’t leave one feeling debilitated and suffocated.
The discussion on fulfilling desires, in the midst of a collective reality, where the desires would require the involvement of others or infringe on the desires of others, has many grey areas. In the end, it’s a personal journey which occurs in the presence of other parallel journeys, of other beings, whether in the physical or non-physical domain, and hence there will be some conflicts, some infringements, some co-operations and collaborations that are bound to occurs, which will entail judgements, compromise, prejudices and intolerance. All of this is a part of our reality here, as a being of life-energy, and we have to navigate in the midst of all of these challenges, using our wisdom and awareness – nothing is black-and-white, there will always be a lot of grey areas where we can only choose based on our current awareness and understanding, we may not always be right but it’s the best we can do because in the end there is no such thing as being right or wrong from an absolute standpoint, it’s just an infinite journey of life that we are on as beings, and we don’t have the luxury of stopping because our nature will not allow it.
The bottom-line is to work with our desires, to understand that our desires are important and their fulfilment is a necessity, especially the desire for freedom which is of primary importance, in the absence of which there is bound to be a lot of suffering. Our society, currently, in many parts of the world, is still focused on emphasizing on an attitude of sacrificing personal freedom in the name of responsibility, a misplaced sense of security, propriety and an idea of “status”, and in such an environment it’s not surprising to find that the majority of humans feel suffocated and depressed with their existence where they sell their freedom for some paltry benefits and then they set out of find “peace” through some other indulgences including the spiritual pursuits.
Connecting with your “source” nature (the realm that’s free of polarity, the essential being nature in us) does not relieve you from your responsibility towards yourself as the life-energy being (soul/body/mind), while you can benefit from your connection with the realm of “source being” (or what I would call the “non-polarized” awareness) it is not a replacement for your existence as a polarized being created from life-energy – one does not replace the other, both these dimensions are equally important. Some of the spiritual teachers emphasize on the connectivity with the “source nature” while implying that the realm of polarity is to be dis-regarded. Desires belong to the realm of polarity, existent in us a soul-entity/human-entity, and we need to work with our desires, seek fulfilment along with exercising wisdom while doing so – you cannot relinquish your desires, neither can you relinquish a sense of wisdom while operating with them, it’s tricky and it can be challenging, but in the end there is no right or wrong from an absolute stand-point and in the relative realm we need to do the best we can to stand true to our desires, to not succumb to the manipulation of others towards stifling your desire, but also to not be unduly imbalanced to the point of stark exploitation while you fulfil your indulgence.