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Desire | Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Wisdom

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Desire | Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Wisdom
Your thoughts are very powerful; you can create what you want. First, believe that it is possible for you to live in a state of unconditional love, peace and tranquility. As a child you have lived in this state. As children we all have done it. We were bubbling with enthusiasm. - Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Work doesn't tire you as much as your attachment and desires. Desires only appear to take you to happiness. Every desire leaves you in the same place where you were before it even arose. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has often expressed how in the process of achieving your desires you lose the sight of the self.

Every desire is like a Merry-go-Round! Learn to deal with your 'Desires' without losing your balance from Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

All desires are for happiness. That is the goal of desire, isn't it? How often does your desire lead you to the goal? But have you thought about the nature of desire? It simply means tomorrow, and not now, isn't it? Joy is never tomorrow. It is always now.

How can you have desires when you are joyful? And how can you really be joyful now when you have desires? Desire appears to lead you to happiness. In fact, it cannot. And that is why it is Maya. What do you say?

  • A desire arises with the memory of a pleasant experience and past impressions.
  • A desire might arise through listening.
  • A desire can be triggered through the association of certain people and a place.
  • Someone else's need or desire may manifest in you as your own desire, e.g. when someone is hungry, you get a desire to feed them or someone wants to talk to you and you get a desire to talk to them.
  • The destiny or a happening in which you have a part to play may trigger a desire of which you have no idea. For example, a gentleman in Quebec, Canada kept making roads and working on a farm for 30 years, not knowing for what - for it was destined to become our Canadian Ashram.

This couplet needs to be pondered over and over; for a whole lifetime is not sufficient enough to digest this knowledge. Whenever happiness has disappeared from your life, look deeper and you will see it is because of the desire. And all that we desire is happiness! No person, animal or creature desiring unhappiness is ever born, never has it happened before and never will it happen in the future. When your small mind gets tired of running here and there, of wandering everywhere, it reaches a conclusion, 'My desires have killed my happiness'. Thus a person who has conquered his desires is called 'Mahavira'.

Desires for sense pleasure are electric in nature and they get neutralized as they move towards the objects of senses. If by your skill, you could move them within you towards the center of your existence, another dimension of everlasting pleasure, thrill, bliss, and undying love will all be yours. Lust, greed, power, and jealousy are also powerful because they are nothing but energy and you are the source of it - the pure electricity. Dedication and devotion keep the purity of your electricity and they move you upward.

Realizing you are pleasure or electricity yourself, your craving subsides, and serenity dawns. Remembering that you will die makes you alive now, free from cravings and aversions. The wise are always careful not to get entangled and dizzy in the mind.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All desires have got one goal, and that is happiness. If a desire brings unhappiness, it has not reached its goal. The goal of desires is to bring happiness. So, that is the purpose.

Where does it come from? It comes when you are not aware of your Being, your Self. Desire is your wanting to stay in the moment. Desire is to experience joy. Joy is only at the moment. And when you are in the moment, there is no desire. Have you noticed when you are joyful and satisfied, there is no burning desire at that time?

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your desire to have no desire to ask questions is a desire in itself. This is a problem. Jo jaisa hai theek hai - this is sanmati (Whatever is there, however it is, it is alright. This is called sanmati or right-mindedness). Whether or not you have a question, it’s alright. Whether you get an answer or you don’t, it’s alright. ‘Everything is alright’ is the path of nivriti. Often we say, ‘This is not ok, that is not ok’ and then we retreat in ourselves. In that state, you can’t rest. Because when you find something is not ok, your whole tendency is to act towards it. And you are trying to rest while restraining from the action with an attitude of action. This causes tension and lack of deep rest.

We need to have two attitudes in life - pravriti and nivriti. It is important to go within when you are tired of working in the world. Nature has made it that way: 12-hour day and 12-hour night. At some places like in the North and South Poles, the night is of around four hours and the day is around 18 to 20 hours. But then in winters, it gets reversed and the day is only four to five hours. So nature maintains that balance. 12 hours day and 12 hours night is the law of nature. The night itself means retiring from any kind of effort. The day symbolizes pravriti and night symbolizes nivriti.

Viveka (discrimination) is to understand what pravriti is and what nivriti is. We think nivriti is getting retired from your job at the age of 60 and being on a holiday. No, the Vedas say, ‘again and again, adopt the path of nivriti.’ To go within and rest after getting tired of doing work is nivriti.

There are two types of rest. One is inert rest that we get in sleep. It does give some rest but the mind doesn’t get complete rest. Another is conscious rest: you are resting but inside you are aware and alert, that is meditation. Resting with awareness and conscious sleep is meditation.Meditative rest is far superior for that alone brings real rest to the system. When we want to go into meditation, then the attitude that needs to be adopted is ‘everything is ok'. There is no lack and 'I don’t want anything at this moment’. When you think ‘everything is ok’, your mind calms down and you go within.

Now when you go within, you get a lot of happiness, satisfaction, joy and peace, then you have to come to the path of pravriti. So pravriti is when you find things are not ok or perfect and nivriti is when you repose in the Self and find all is well and perfect. This knowledge comes to you with spiritual practices.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, desire is always in search of happiness or knowledge. When one’s desire is directed towards a person, or an object, or some desired situation, then the moment you get something better, your desire will start running in that direction (meaning that desires are always for more happiness and without an end).

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If somebody tells you what the ultimate desire should be, that’s futile. This moment what you need is your desire. When you look at life from a broader perspective, then you yourself come to know what you want. Naturally, you will be compassionate, considerate for your environment, work for the country and keep doing such work and then it will not matter what the ultimate desire is. What this life is all about, you will know that naturally.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are three things that you can do to drop such a desire for alcohol or cigarette. Do your spiritual practices daily. It will take you out of such desires.

Think that intake of alcohol or cigarette smoking will diminish your good luck. If you take like that, then something unlucky or unfortunate may happen. Suppose someone offers you a crore ($10 million), if you stop alcohol or cigarettes for a month. Will you still do it? Each time you get a desire to do that, you will think that you will lose the 1 crore.

So, you will control yourself because of greed or fear. To come out of a bad habit, fear and greed are divya aushadi, best or even magical remedies!

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wait for some time. Sometimes we don’t know what we want or we want something but then we change our mind. How many times have you felt that it was good that what you desired did not get fulfilled? (Many raise their hands)

So always along with your prayer add that if there is something better than this for me, let that happen.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should know when you let go the best will come to you. Don’t be afraid. And if it is not possible then never mind, hold on to it, but relax!

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Life runs on desires. I'm not telling you that you shouldn't have any desire. It is a desire that has brought you here; you wanted to come to satsang and that is what has brought you here. It is desire which makes you eat food, it's desire which makes you travel; it is a desire that makes you do everything.

Since there are so many desires that arise, some get fulfilled, and some don't. If you remain happy whether the desire is fulfilled or not, then it does not become a thorn. For example, suppose you want to watch a movie and you go to the cinema hall, but there are no tickets available, will you get upset? If you get upset then that desire has gone into your heart. If it has not gone into your heart, you will say, 'Oh, I didn't the ticket, never mind. I’ll watch another movie, or go for shopping, or do some sightseeing'.

There are two types of desires:

  1. The desire of the universe, by which everything runs. It is an instinct.
  2. The desire that you take into your heart and nurture.

I am not classifying desires as good or bad. However, there are some superficial desires which come and go that do not achieve anything great. When a desire gets into your heart, that can make some big thing happen. Mahatma Gandhi had the desire to free the country. That desire got into his heart and when that did not get fulfilled, he got upset. Then, what did he do? He went into silence, prayer and fasting. He nurtured that desire in a very different way. He did not get cynical, sad, or frustrated because he had realized that it was a desire in his heart and so you would never find frustration in the face of that old man. The same with Nelson Mandela. So that desire did not turn into a thorn.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is another desire! What we need to know is that a desire fulfilled takes you back to the same place you were before the desire arose. Just imagine your state of mind before a desire arose in you, after all the circus of having a desire and getting it fulfilled, you come back to that same place.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In the path of spirituality, next is contentment. When you have contentment, you are not burning with some small desire. If at all you have a desire, you have a very big desire, like, I want everyone to be happy, I want the whole world to be peaceful. These are the desires you should have!

Small desires should become bigger desires, and bigger desires don’t bring you tension. Only small things bring you tension. There is a saying in Sanskrit, ‘Naalpe sukham asti yo vai bhumaa tat sukham’. The mind always goes for something that is bigger; some bigger joy, bigger bliss. It is its nature, you cannot avoid it. The mind wants to have something bigger, and spirituality gives you that bigger joy, bigger happiness.

There is one kind of happiness that you get by taking; as children we all have it. However, a grown-up person has happiness in giving; like a mother at home. She enjoys cooking for everybody, but when she is all by herself she doesn’t make five or ten different varieties of food and eat. She never does that. She will have a cup of tea or coffee and munch something. So there is the joy in giving. Authors and literary giants have this joy that I gave something to society, I wrote something. There is a joy in it; go for that.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ok, then go ahead and keep the desire (Laughter). It is not said that you should not have the desire or expectation for the result. But you do not have any control over the result. If you get a thing even before the need/desire for it arises, it is a sign of Atibhagya (great fortune). What is the meaning of Bhagya (Good fortune)? It is when you get a thing, becomes available to you even before the need for it arises. The slightly less fortunate ones are those who get a thing when they desire it. When everything becomes available even without asking, it is Siddhi (an extraordinary ability). One whose desires get fulfilled after asking is a little less fortunate than the one whose desires are fulfilled without having to even ask. And if there is someone in whose mind so many desires arise but who gets very little after so much effort, such a person is even less fortunate. One who only toils the whole life and doesn’t get the results he desires is the least fortunate of all.

Now how can one cross from one step of the ladder to the other? It is possible by Satkarma (good actions or merits). Doing Sadhana, Seva and Satsang all help in this. How many of you feel that you get whatever you think here in your mind? (Many in the audience raise hands). For how many of you does it happen even before thinking? (Many in the audience raise hands). This is Siddhi. You all have become Siddhas (perfected beings, with extraordinary abilities). (Laughter)

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, when you say that is a constant struggle, then just let it be. When anything becomes constant, you get used to it. Then it is no longer a struggle. But anything is a struggle if you are not used to it.

If you are used to something, then you cannot be without it. Got it? So first of all, you need to take back your words that it is a constant struggle. If it is a constant struggle, then you do not even feel it is a struggle.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For a student, I will say you should study more.

This I said for the adults, to drop their desire to have more of happiness in life. But when it comes to knowledge, sadhana and seva, for that you can desire for more, that is no problem.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Desires need not lead to pain.

Some desires, when you want to fulfil them but you do not have enough energy and you can’t fulfil them, then they give you pain.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You say it is a lifelong desire. Is it really a lifelong desire? Did you have the same desire when you were a kid, or when you were a teenager?

Just take a look at it. Is the desire worth all the effort and time you are putting into it? Or can your life be very useful in some other way? These are a few things that you need to ponder upon. As your energy builds up, let go and you will find that desires just happen. The more you hang onto them, the more you hold on and crave for it, the longer it takes. That is a fact.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know your desires are getting fulfilled, that is enough. Be busy in fulfilling the desires of others, not your own desires. See, what is the significance of the Guru Disciple Tradition? It is for the Disciple to realize that desires are endless.

‘Like the waves of the ocean, desires keep coming one after the other. That is why I must keep my desires aside and do as per the Guru desires.’ When you do this then the mind becomes hollow and empty and you start feeling a sense of lightness. Life then moves beyond joy and sorrow, and all craving and aversion automatically disappear.

This is the only way to remove cravings and aversions. That is why it is said, ‘Na Guror Adhikam, Na Guror Adhikam, Na Guror Adhikam’ (There is nothing greater than Guru, there is nothing greater than Guru, there is nothing greater than Guru because Guru is the embodiment of all that is greatest). So leave everything on the Guru, and surrender to the Guru.

Fulfillment cannot be achieved through desires because if one desire is fulfilled another one comes, and if that is fulfilled another one comes. And then the mind keeps wandering between desires. Some desire or another will keep troubling your mind day and night.

Do you know, if there is anything in this world that troubles you, the topmost on the list is your own mind! I am saying topmost because you do not see this. You feel that someone else is bothering you. You think your mother in law is troubling you, or your daughter-in-law is troubling you, or your wife or husband is troubling you. Keep all that as second on the list. It is your own mind which is troubling you; there is no other enemy out there. Once you realize this you will understand that it is not the other, all the botherations are of the mind.