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The anatomy of desire || (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
107 reads

Acharya Prashant (AP): 'I' tendency is not what gives you an identity. The 'I' tendency is what hides your real identity from you. 'I' tendency is not what gives you your face. It only gives you a mask. It hides your real face from you. It gives you a false face and a desire to maintain and secure that false face, by desiring everything that helps secure the falseness.

The mother tendency is the 'I' tendency, the mother face is the 'I' face, the mother desire is the 'I' desire, and then there are a thousand miscellaneous desires each with a view to, each with the task of maintaining the mother desire; maintaining the mother falseness. So the incompleteness in the false self is supplemented by desirousness, and these two together become some kind of a substitute for totality, completeness.

The 'I' tendency is incomplete, right? Now, how does it make up for its incompleteness? By being desirous. So there is incompleteness, and then you add desire to it and it becomes some kind of a substitute for wholeness. The real thing. Alright! I am incomplete, but I am not just incomplete, I have desires. So desires fill up your inner hollow, in a very false way, obviously.

Desires are what does not allow you to give up the incomplete for the complete. Otherwise the incomplete is so obviously inferior to the complete. You would have dropped it long back.

Why didn’t you drop it? Because it is incompleteness plus desirousness. These two things combine and put up a shady front, in front of completeness. Remove desire, and incompleteness shows up as obviously inferior. Therefore, wherever you would have incompleteness, to cover it up, to boost it up, you will also have desirousness.

Do you see this? Like a salesman selling you an inferior product with discount coupons for the future. Now, many people will fall for this deal. Otherwise, who would go for an inferior product when the real one is available? The inferior one is openly inferior. You know it is inferior. But then you know, it is inferior. But I am giving you hope for the future. Please take these coupons. You may use these coupons in the future and you will get a twenty-percent discount.

Now you are bemused. It does not seem a bad deal for this incomplete product, I may take it because with this product I am getting a heavy twenty-percent discount on anything that I might purchase! Now anything involves imagination. Are you getting it? And it is a big store. What he is saying is, you can have anything in the future. I have been given a hope of the promise, and whatever you buy in the future you will get twenty-percent off.

So I say, alright take this, now I am getting these coupons and I will buy a space rocket costing billions. I will get twenty-percent off and that will mean so much.

You got nothing. You really got nothing! And don’t even know where you will place that space rocket if ever you happen to get it. You have to face bankruptcy just parking that rocket. You can’t even service your little bike properly. You take it to a shady center, not the authorized service station because you wanted to save two-hundred rupees. How will you service that space rocket?

But those things you don’t think of because greed obfuscates intelligence. Do you see how it happens? That is how the 'I' tendency keeps desire alive to somehow sustain itself. Drop desire, and what have you actually dropped? The 'I' tendency. Therefore the verse says, “Those who are without desire pass beyond this seed”.

Dropping desire means dropping the seed itself. Drop the discount and you have dropped the false product itself. Drop the hope of future discounts and you have dropped the shady deal itself. Now you have understood why spirituality talks so much about ‘freedom from desire’. Because freedom from desire is analogous to freedom from the false self. The false self cannot sustain itself without desire. Make this very clear to you. Are you getting it?

The false self is false, you know it is false. It carries the backing of hope. "I am false, but I will bring you all these." It never gets you anything. Never! And even if it does get you something, that too is patently false and inferior. So it is not as if you ever delivered something genuine by the false self. But its announcements and allurements, are just too loud for you to resist. “I’ll get you this, I will give you this”. Now you know why the mind is always thinking? Because the mind is incomplete.

Wherever there is incompleteness, there is a constant attempt to cover up the incompleteness through thought, hope, desire, effort, this, and that. Cover-up, I am saying; not to get rid of. Getting rid of incompleteness is a totally different effort compared to the attempt to just cover it up.

Do you see this? Do you realize that you stay the way you are? And the way you are is obviously not very good. Because you unwisely see some benefits in staying the way you are. Those benefits are all just posited benefits, assumed benefits. They never really come to you, but they help to… not ‘help to’ why help; help is a good word; why should I abuse it? But they assist the ego in continuing to make your life hell. Do you see this?

Live the right life. Be free of all the mental nonsense. The Truth says nothing. But let me dare to say,

This is one promise the Truth does make: live the right life, live peacefully, work peacefully, sleep peacefully.

I do not know how much value you give to this peace, but that is the only promise the Truth can make; if any.

"The wise who are without desire and worship the pure Self."

It would have been very clear to you if you were paying some attention that by valuing (by worship you mean, great valuation) by valuing the pure Self, you are automatically de-valuing the little self and its accompanying desires. So you cannot value the two at the same time. Did you get this?

Value the Truth and you will find desires dropping. Most people do not take that as a good sign. Even as they hear it, they won’t find it as a welcome statement. Value the Truth and you will find desires dropping, they will say, "If desires drop what is left in life?"

You see, it is such a condemnation of oneself. You will say, "If desires drop what is left in life?" Do you know what that tells me? There is nothing in your life except desires. And desires are fluff! You say, "If desires are gone, what is left in life?" You do not know what you have just said! You do not know what you said implies there is nothing in your life except desires. And if there is a thing in life except for desires, where is substance? Desires are just hot air, fluff! Is all your life just fluff?

The more inauthentic your life is, the more difficult it would be for you to contemplate freedom from desires. When we talk of freedom from desires, we have to understand what we are saying. There is the desire that exists to support incompleteness. That is the kind of desire we are talking about right now. A desire that supports and nourishes and maintains incompleteness—that is the desire we are talking of right now.

There is that one desire that we all must have, that is to reach desirelessness. The desire to be free. The desire to know, to realize. That desire is of an entirely different quality. That is not to be compared to the run-of-the-mill desires.

Questioner: Acharya Ji, if we live our lives without any desires, the only work we would be doing, would be to just fill our stomachs. Will it not be the end of all discoveries, inventions, and so-called development?

AP: How do you know sir? How do you know? See, this is where we face a big problem. We imagine so much. In fact, I answered this question in advance just a few minutes back. If there is no desire, what would life be like, and people are scared. "If there is no desire, we will just eat and live." How do you know? All that you know of is this life that you are living. Have you ever lived life from an alternate center? But we are haughty enough to assume that we know the alternate center. How do you know?

Can you just force yourself to be a little humble for a while, and tell yourself that you do not know? Maybe there is a higher way of living. Maybe there is a different center to desire from, and we talked of that center and we talked of right desire. But wrong desire wants to defend itself through all kinds of spurious arguments, this being one of them. I have been facing this argument for some fifteen years now.

This is the same question that a first-semester student would pose to me when I would visit their college in one of their Samvad sessions. "Sir, if we do not live the way that we are now living, would life not be all barren, colorless?" This question must be a favorite of Maya and must be working for her very well. Why else would it be repeated so often? Her success record with this question, I am sure it is quite great. What you are saying is, let me tell you; what your assumption is, there is the animal life and there is the stupid life. Beyond these two, there is no life.

I am asking you to quit the stupid life and you are saying, "If I quit the stupid life, isn’t that all I am left with, is the animal life?" Sir, so your advice is not proper. How do you know that these are the only two options you have, the animal life and stupid life? How do you know? And you are saying "If I quit the stupid life where will all the inventions come from?"

Seriously? Have inventions and innovations come from the quality of life most people lead in the average sense? Do they come from there?

These Upanishads, do you think they come from the common folks? They don’t come from the common folks, you readily agree. But you say, if you are not common, then you are an animal. These are the only two ways, right? That is what you just said. According to you, the Rishis were animals, because they are not common. And the uncommon according to you is beastly. What logic is this?

Obviously, there is a third way. No? We exist at this level, which is the level of our common stupid existence. Below this is the level of animal existence. And there is a level, I assure you higher than this as well. Spirituality encourages you to graduate to that higher level.

It is not that the higher level is dangerous for you. It is not as if it will sap the life out of your work, relationships, this, that. No. Our work, our dealings, our relationships; if you afford to be honest for a while is already lifeless, no? They have no sap.

The third plane is possible. The Upanishads are proof of that third plane. Every single individual who is worth remembering down the centuries of history is proof of that third plane. The great men, the great women; in all fields of human endeavor, they were neither animalistic nor stupid. They were operating from a higher plane. You too can operate from there. It is your right, it is your responsibility. Both. Try!

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