Overcoming the two biggest obstacles to inner transformation.
Desire and fear are like the two sides of the same coin. Whichever way you flip a coin, it carries the same monetary value, but the engraving may be different on each side.
Desire and fear have equal value, in that they keep us bound to the mind. A lot of what we do every day involves the pursuit of desire and avoidance of fear.
The mind keeps our attention on desire and fear by linking the former with pleasure and the latter with pain. Pleasure and pain are deeply ingrained. They are fundamental to the existence of the mind.
If we look closely, wherever there is desire, there is also fear and vice versa. When we pursue a desire, without knowing, we are pursuing pain. When we try to push away our fears, we are unconsciously pursuing a desire for the opposite. If we work on getting rid of desire, we automatically reduce our fears. If becoming fearless is the objective, then desirelessness follows.
Life teaches us through hard lessons that the pursuit of desires eventually leads to pain. This stems from the transitory nature of pleasure. Holding onto something that is transitory brings the fear of loss. The mind is a vortex. It is hard to escape. The deeper we go, the greater is the polarity of desires and fears.
The subconscious mind is full of latent desires and fears. Unless we empty this storehouse, they will keep cropping up in our conscious mind.
Desires are like the two front wheels of a car and fears are like the back wheels. When we move forwards, the back wheels follows. When we operate the reverse gear, the back wheels lead the way. The driver decides which direction to go. For some, desires predominantly drive them, for others it is fear.
Forgotten amid all this is the one who is in charge, us. A car cannot start up spontaneously on its own will and go places. We hold the keys. It is the same with the mind. We are so dependent on the mind and its ability to quickly bring us new experiences and thoughts that we forget that we are the masters of ourselves.
Without our involvement, desires and fears cannot do anything on their own. They are the two biggest obstacles to inner transformation.
How do we overcome desires and fear?
The simple answer is facing them head-on, and not cooperating with them. For this, courage is needed. For a desire to exist and have significance, it needs a timeline from the past to the future and the mind’s power to project a desired outcome in the future. Fears live on this timeline as well.
Desires and fears are like painted lines on either side of a road. These lines run parallel to each other, but they never meet. As long as our attention is traveling in the mind, there is fear on one side and desire on the other.
The past is a fixed idea, we cannot change it, while the future is an evolving idea. Based on our ongoing experiences, we are continually changing and calibrating our expectations of how the future should turn out.
In general, there is a desire that the future should be better than the past and the present. There is also a fear that it may turn out worse than the past or the present.
From the past to the future is one long road. A road serves no purpose unless someone uses it for traveling from one place to another. When our attention continually travels from the past to the future, it creates such a density of traffic that it traps us in an endless traffic jam. We can neither move forwards nor backwards. We remain in one place saddled with the debts from the past, which we hope to repay with promissory notes the future gives us.
When we begin to witness our desires and fears without indulging them, they become like museum pieces on display. Cars displayed in a museum may look like they are in perfect working order, but no one is allowed to drive them. We can look from a distance, standing there as long as we like, but the car will not move.
Similarly, when we begin to witness our desires and fears, they will become stationary objects. They will not have the power to move on their own. Initially they may have the appearance of movement, but this is on account of the inertia of the past. Gradually their movement ceases and they become harmless.
With desires and fears out of the way, the mind turns from a projector to a mirror-like reflector. Just like the sun is reflected on a perfectly still lake, our inner reality will begin to reflect onto the mind. As we move towards the source of this reflection, we begin to transform from within.