We often hear and read about spiritual teachings which say that desires are bad and in order to surrender fully to Truth we must let go of all desire. While that is true (letting go of desires can instantly return us to our natural state of peace) it is not the full story. Desires are not unspiritual. They’re not bad and they’re not wrong.
There are actually two kinds of desires and what is most important is our capacity to discern between them. One is a pure expression born from Truth, the other is an expression of ego.
Desires born from Truth are like energy pulsations which move from the Source (field of oneness / God / Universe / The Divine / Love / Whatever you want to call it). It is a potent energy in a form of pure potentiality, full of life and full of creation. Life wants to create through us and it brings us immense joy and a feeling of purpose and connection when we allow this energy to flow through us. When we are connected to Truth we are in communion with this energy and it communicates to us through a feeling of impersonal desire, using our body and mind to bring the formless into form.
Desires born from ego are selfish. They are based on taking and getting things for ‘me’ so that ‘I’ can have more and become bigger and better than others. When these desires are attained the ego / sense of separate self wants to make sure that everybody knows about its great value and worth so it feels a compulsion to post photos and notifications of all its achievements (real or fabricated) on social media to feed its mind made sense of separate self. There's nothing wrong with posting on social media but before you do check in with yourself and ask honestly, "am I getting a sense of worth from posting this?"
When egoic desires are fulfilled they never bring a lasting sense of satisfaction. There is a short-lived feeling of completeness and then the feeling of ‘not enough’ rises back up, driving us to take, get and buy more. The ego is so smart that it can even trick us into believing that are desires are born from Truth, for example if we do something seemingly selfless, such as volunteering to help people, the ego can feel a sense of superiority because “I’m selfless or spiritual and therefore better than others.” So be vigilant and radically honest with yourself when you question your desires and motives!
Even egoic desires are not bad or wrong. They are simply parts of us which feel in pain. These parts feel disconnected, lacking in worth and unhappy, and so naturally they seek a way to feel happy. By acknowledging and noticing these parts we bring them back home into the light. They are like little gifts for us to open up and when we unravel them they lead us to Truth.
It is important to note that it is natural to desire beautiful, enjoyable things. If we could eat processed, stale junk food or fresh, healthy organic food we'd probably choose the latter. And similarly if we could live in a tiny one bedroom apartment in a rough neighbourhood or a beautiful detached villa with a swimming pool by the beach we'd choose the villa. There's nothing wrong with these preferences. They only become a problem and a hindrance to our spiritual practice if we become dependent on desiring and needing these things for our happiness. If we develop attachment to anything it becomes unhealthy for us, but if we are able to maintain a detached state of Being where we simply feel gratitude for the abundance that we have, then we can become a billionaire and even if we lose all the money our state of Being will remain the same. We no longer derive our sense of self from our achievements or what we have because our allegiance lies with Truth.
A little exploration:
Write down a list of everything that you desire. Feel into each item on the list and ask yourself this question:
Is there a feeling that if I get this I'll be happier and more complete than I am right now?
If the answer is yes then the desire is born from ego. Let go of all those desires and surrender all of your personal self. Rest as awareness, pure presence. Allow the sense of a separate 'me' to dissolve into the present moment. Feel that what you have right now is enough. It's all you need. It's the best thing that you could experience. Feel gratitude for everything that is present in this moment, physically and energetically. Say in your heart, "I am whole. I am complete. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
What is it that brings me a sense of true satisfaction and joy?
What is it that makes my heart sing?
What is it that life wants to express and create through this vehicle in order to benefit the whole?
We usually need to become very silent and rest in presence in order to quieten the noise from the mind and its selfish desires and hear/feel our deeper calling. If you feel that you don’t have any desires born from Truth, that’s actually a good place to be because it means that you’re already disidentifying from egoic desires. Stay present in every moment and pray in your heart for Life to express itself through you. More and more of the egoic self and its selfish desires will dissolve and the True desires will reveal themselves in due time.
Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash