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Desirelessness

Updated on April 24, 2013

We all are overwhelmed by innumerable desires; if one desire is fulfilled, another crops up and we become engaged in fulfilling that. There is an unending list of desires which we strive to fulfill throughout life.

Desire is described as a sense of longing for a person or an object or hoping for an outcome. Craving and hankering also convey the same sense as desire. Desire is regarded as a mental state that motivates and causes action. They are oriented towards pleasures whereas aversions are oriented towards the avoidance of pain. The distinctive feature of desire and aversion is the pleasure and pain that the desired state of affairs brings to the subject. For instance, to desire a particular car is to feel pleasure when getting it and to feel pain when not getting it. The conception of desire has a variety of emotions incorporated in it. Desires are dispositions to pleasures or pains and it is a common idea that emotions are nothing but pleasures and pains with various intensities. The positives emotions are pleasures associated with satisfactions of desires and negative emotions are pains associated with frustration of desires.

There is a close association between happiness and desires. Unhappiness is caused either by dissatisfaction caused by unfulfilled desires or anxiety that desires will not be fulfilled in the future, even though having been fulfilled at present.

As long as we will remain in body consciousness, desires will keep on arising one after the other and we will experience emotions of pleasure or pain due to them.

Desirelessness is state of emotional and mental stability in which emotions of pleasure or pain produced by the desires have no effect on such a stable person. It is a detachment to the emotions, causing pleasures or pain in a way that one experiences the emotions but is not affected by them.

If one strives spiritually, one can develop the state of desirelessness with consistent practice. One has to remain ever alert or else one will revert back to the original state.

  • One of the strategies to become desireless is to develop the attitude of detachment to the effects of desires. The fulfillment of a desire leads to another desire and we become busy in fulfilling it. It means that we get attached to their pleasant and unpleasant effects, experiencing happiness and sadness. The detachment to desires will emerge in us the feelings of contentment and peace, which is the basic nature of the self.
  • The other strategy is to surrender yourself totally to the will of the God. Have desires but leave up to Him to fulfill them. With this attitude you will not be unhappy if they are not fulfilled and happy if they are fulfilled.
  • Regular meditation is also a method to achieve desirelessness. One expands one’s boundaries of consciousness of inner soul. One becomes aware of the futility of desires; one realizes that they ultimately lead to pain and unhappiness.

The desirelessness is actually our true nature and it is present right here and right now. It is a state of peace and contentment. When one realizes that the state of desirelessness indeed one’s true nature, the seeking stops immediately.

Spotless freedom from desires means such a dissatisfaction in respect of all objects from Brahma down to inanimate things as is felt in respect of the excrement of a crow.

Acharya Sankara

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