Desires & Desirelessness

May 2005

One of the greatest plagues of human beings is our insatiable desires. We truly never feel satisfied. We never feel that we have had "enough." We are always looking for more and more and more. This pertains to almost every area of our lives. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are sky-rocketing because we always want "just one more" ladoo, gulabjamun or piece of chocolate cake. Our bank accounts are getting fuller but our lives are getting emptier because we are always striving to close "just one more deal" or to take on "just one more project", thereby sacrificing the precious time that we could otherwise spend on spiritual pursuits or with our families or engaged in service for others. Talking to my young friends around the world I hear about their boyfriends and girlfriends, who seem to change by the month! "He was nice but he was not smart enough." "She was sweet but not as beautiful as I would like." "He was perfect but half an inch too short."

Families with 4 people have 5 mercedes in the driveway! Everyone has only two feet, yet I know people with hundreds of pairs of shoes. We have one body, but closets full of clothes. What is the need? Nothing other than the futile attempt to satiate our desires.

There is a beautiful line in one of the prayers we sing each morning. It says,

Zindiggi ki dora saunpa, haath Dinaanaath-ke
Mahalon me rakhe chahe, jhopri me vasa de

Dhanyavad nirvivad Rama-Rama kahiye
Jahi vidhi rakhe Rama, tahi vidhi rahiye.

It means, Surrender your life to God. Give Him the reins to your chariot. Wherever He leads you, be happy. Whether He puts you in a palace or a shack, just stay there and be thankful. Be always grateful to the Lord, without any argument and without any doubt. Be happy, ever happy, in whatever condition He keeps you.

This is the only way to live. It is through surrendering to Him that we become desireless. Through being desireless we attain peace and joy. We think, mistakenly, that it is by fulfilling our desires that we will attain joy. However, it is the opposite. Fulfillment of desire leads to temporary happiness NOT because the object of desire was attained, but simply because the desire has now temporarily disappeared! If I am craving a new car and I get a new car, then my desire for a new car has gone away. It is not the new car itself that gives me the joy, but rather it is the fact that I am now free of the desire for a new car. The diminishment of desire is what brings joy to us. But the way to diminish our desires is not to rush around and try to fulfill them. There are always more. They are like weeds in the garden of our mind. No matter how many we pluck, there will always be moreā€¦ For a short while we are satisfied, and then the fire of desire begins burning again.

I remember when I was on my first trip to the United States, over 25 years ago, and I was staying in Los Angeles. The family I was staying with had a beautiful Rolls-Royce car. We were driving in the Rolls-Royce car one day and the man said to me urgently, "Swamiji, look, look, do you see that car?" He frantically pointed out a car driving near us on the freeway and made sure that I knew which one he was showing me. As we were in the middle of serious conversation on another topic at the time, he did not elaborate further. However, later when we returned home, he said to me, "Swamiji, I need your blessings. Do you remember that car I showed you as we were driving? That is the model of Rolls-Royce I want. Please bless me that I can get that model of Rolls-Royce." I was amazed! Here we were sitting in a Rolls-Royce and he is dreaming about a different Rolls-Royce! But, the truth is, life is always like that.

We must renounce our desires. That doesn't mean renounce enjoyment or renounce possessions. Rather, it means savor everything. Enjoy whatever God gives you, as much as He gives you, however He gives it, and wherever He gives it. Use whatever you have for the benefit of the world. Rest peacefully in the realization that you have exactly as much as God wants you to have right now. You are in exactly the place and exactly the position where He wants you. Do not let your life go to waste always thinking, "If only I had that, then I would be happy." Wherever God is, that is where true richness is.

Look at Hanuman - after the war in Lanka, Ma Sitaji presented Hanumanji with a beautiful, precious pearl necklace. Hanumanji proceeded to carefully examine each and every pearl - from top to bottom, from left to right. Then, he began to take the pearls off the string, one by one, bite them in half, again examine them thoroughly, and then throw them on the ground. Ma Sitaji could not watch this. Finally she said, "Hanuman - what are you doing? That is a very expensive, precious necklace I have bought for you. Why are you pulling off the pearls and breaking them?"

Hanumanji replied, "I am looking for Rama. You have said these pearls are priceless and precious. If so, they must have Rama inside them." Pearls (and diamonds and rubies and cars and money) are only precious if they are filled with God. If God is not there, it doesn't matter how expensive the diamond is, it is still empty and useless. God's presence in your life can turn stones to diamonds, but without God your diamonds are as worthless as stones.

So, let us vow that we will desire God and only God. Where He is, everything is. And let us vow not to waste any more precious moments of life in the endless and futile pursuit for more and more pleasures and more possessions.

We just celebrated the divine holiday of Ganga Dusshera - the birthday of Ganga. What can we give to Mother Ganga? There is truly nothing we can offer to Her except that of which we need to rid ourselves. Primarily our desires. So, on Her divine birthday, let us offer her our insatiable desires, and let them flow away from our lives in Her holy waters.

May God bless you all.

In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati







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