What happens when there are no desires?

Understanding the nature of desires

Photo by Ali Ahmed on Unsplash

Between us and reality lie the world of desires. They are of our making and are the last of the mountains left to climb before we see things the way they are.

As newborns, we come into the world free of desires. The body has its needs, but there is immense joy and playful innocence while the mind is yet to wake up. The moment we become aware of the “I,” desires begin. They may be simple or complex, but the underlying mechanism is the same. Desires need a point of reference. They are always in relation to the individualized self or the ego. Even if we desire that only good things should happen to us or others, it comes from the reference point of the ego. The “I” who wishes become the ‘subject’ and the fulfillment of a desire become the ‘object.’

The moment we become aware of the “I,” desires begin.

All desires require this subject-object differentiation. This creates space and separation between the present, the now and the future. The subjective “I” remains the same, and it is always in the present. It never changes. Change happens in the objects of our desires, or in our relationship with those objects as time moves forward. Awareness is somewhere between the changeless “I” and the changing projections into the future. At any given point in time, we harbor numerous desires which we project into various time-points in the future.

Hidden within most of our significant and long-term desires are many smaller ones.

Each day we cycle through three states of consciousness — waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states. Desires exist in waking consciousness. When desires populate our waking moments, there is less enjoyment of the present. In our dreams, we don’t carry the same desires. There is more enjoyment of experiences in the dream state in comparison to the waking state.

In the state of deep sleep, there are no desires or any experiences. It is an ego-free state.

Desires cannot be abstract; the object of any desire must have a form. Such forms become easy to relate to, and they become the goal. When we link our awareness to a form, the mind begins to move towards that goal. Even though the desire for happiness is abstract and happiness by itself is formless, we link it to finite forms which we desire.

When a desire is fulfilled, there is a temporary cessation of movement of the mind’s energy — a brief ‘no-mind’ state.

We assign immense value to some desires. For the worldly-minded, it may be attaining unimaginable wealth. For the religious-minded, it may be reaching heaven, and for the spiritual-minded, it may be attaining salvation or immortality. We assign a value to a desire based on the ease of attainting it and whether it is common or uncommon. But a desire is still a seeking of the mind, from the subjective “I,” however insignificant or grandiose may be the object of desire.

Under the broad category of the desire for pleasure, come all other desires. The desire for happiness is the mountain we aim to conquer.

No one desire can be called the goal of life. A universal goal that satisfies everyone is impossible. Each one, depending on circumstances, upbringing, level of awareness, contentment, satisfaction, ambition, etc., has different goals. Moreover, adding the variable of time, the goalpost keeps moving.

No one desire can be called the goal of life.

Whether desires are considered good or bad in our eyes or that of society, keeping them in the mind requires a certain degree of concentration. Desires can help control and calibrate the mind and keep it one-pointed. As long as the one who desires focuses on the goal or fruition of desires, it becomes a journey.

Desires do not disappear by simply wishing them away or suppressing them.

The subjective “I” that desires and the object of desires may both be observed. Through awareness, we become a witness to both as long as there is no identification with either. If we identify with the “I,” we cannot escape desire, and if we identify with the thought of a desire or even the thought of a desire-free state, we cannot escape the “I.” Through the very act of witnessing without identification, mental images, forms, and projections related to our desires are burnt away. Such witnessing may be considered as the proverbial third eye.

Through the very act of witnessing without identification, mental images, forms, and projections related to our desires are burnt away. Such witnessing may be considered as the proverbial third eye.

From the perspective of pure witnessing, the subject “I” and the object “desire” are the same. Differentiation comes about through identification with one or both. A desire-free state is synonymous with a no-mind state, an ego-free state, the present, pure awareness. In such a state, happiness that previously played hide and seek becomes accessible as a vast open field without an end.

Physician I Poet I Transformational Philosophy - Free awareness and its power to transform. www.intoawareness.org. Learn more- amazon.com/author/seshadri

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