Desire — The Tyrant of the World
Excerpts from a talk by Dr. M.W. Lewis (San Diego Temple, 27-11-1955)
The Fulfillment of Desire
It is desire which leads to action, every action, and with that action, brought about by the desire for the object of senses, comes attachment, and that attachment is what is the cause of further desires. And there's no end to them, for one simple reason – that desire is not satisfied in the object of senses. It is not satisfied there at all. The fulfillment of desire does not come through the objects of senses, but from the heart within. And that's why he is such a tyrant, because he deludes us and keeps us in outward consciousness and away from the Real Consciousness within.
Let us just consider a few days ago we had, a celebration in which there was much turkey consumed, I presume; and those people who were attached to the turkey – they did not satisfy their desires, because they are just either waiting for Thanksgiving to come again, that they get at that turkey, or else they say, "No, we must have that turkey – let's have it next week again, or the week after. After it's used up, because it is that desire, because we have put our attention to the object of desire – the turkey. It is that which creates further desire – there's no end to it. Whereas, if we had turned our attention inward as we ate turkey, or anything, and felt the Giver in our hearts, that desire would have been satisfied, and there had, there would have been no more laying up of further desires.
Desire Causes Action
Desire causes action. And action leads to fulfillment of desire in the object of sense. And as there can be no fulfillment or satisfaction of desire in outward things, we are bound to come again and again – be reborn – until we realize that the desire is not satisfied in outward things, but in God within.
And so this desire causes action, and by action we are kept in delusion. That's the important thing – the delusion of outward consciousness. That is the thing. That's the worst thing, because delusion is, leads us to ignorance. Ignorance is the greatest sin. Why? Because it prevents us from knowing what we are – children of God. We are the Soul, instead of outward consciousness, and it prevents us from enjoying the freedom of the Soul. (…)
The Bhagavad Gita About Desire
So we read in the 3rd Discourse [The Gita], the 37th Verse:
The Blessed Lord said:
Born of the activating attribute of Nature (rajo-guna), it is desire, it is anger, (that is the impelling force)—full of unappeasable craving and great evil: know this (two-sided passion) to be the foulest enemy here on earth.
—The Bhagavad Gita III:37
– because it is desire that keeps us attached to things of this earth, and that attachment leads to further desire, because the desire cannot be fulfilled with the objects of senses. So the Gita speaks of it — ["know this (two-sided passion) to be the foulest enemy here on earth."] "know thou this as our foe here on earth."
As fire is obscured by smoke, as a looking glass by dust, as an embryo is enveloped by the womb, so it (wisdom) is covered by this (desire).
—The Bhagavad Gita III:38
... so this transcendental eternal consciousness – our soul – is enveloped by this tyrant, desire. It is kept subjugated – our soul is tied, bound by desire. Because desire keeps us attached to outward consciousness, which means the desires do not end. They have to be fulfilled. Therefore each one of us has to keep coming over and over. There's no end to it – to try and fulfill that desire – when really, the desire is fulfilled by simply turning to the heart within, satisfying your desires not by objects of senses, but by God within you as the Love in your heart.
O Son of Kunti (Arjuna)! the constant enemy of wise men is the unslakable flame of desire, by which wisdom is concealed. —The Bhagavad Gita III:39
"Enveloped is the wisdom by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire, which is insatiable as a flame." You cannot satisfy it. You get one automobile and you think, "This is it." And then it isn't long before you begin to find the faults in it and you get another automobile. And that goes on and on. You get a hat. "This is the most wonderful hat." No. Not for long. It won't be long before you'll have to get another hat, because desires create more desires because of your attachment. You think you'll be satisfied with that new hat. No, you won't! You will not be satisfied. But there is a little way to overcome desire, which I will come to shortly.
The senses, mind, and intellect are said to be desire's formidable stronghold; through these, desire deludes the embodied soul by eclipsing its wisdom.
—The Bhagavad Gita III:40
"So the senses, the mind and the reason are said to be its seat." Sensation especially, is the seat of desire." The senses, mind and reason are said to be its seat. By these, enveloping wisdom, it bewilders the dweller in the body; therefore, O Arjuna, mastering first the senses, do thou slay this thing of sin and delusion, destructive of wisdom and of knowledge." Desire is no doubt a tyrant. Material desire is the tyrant that keeps us bound to outward consciousness, preventing us from knowing that we are children of God.
"Ye Are Gods"
It is this desire, this king, this tyrant, which prevents us from the reality which we should know and realize, spoken of in Psalms, 82nd Psalm, the 6th Verse: "I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most high." As long as you are subject to desire and its attachment to the object of senses, can you realize that you are a child of God, as it says that we are gods? No. Only when we know that Consciousness of God within us, then we can realize that we are gods – that we are children of the most high. And so we must understand something about this desire.
Now, we can fulfill our desires, the desires of the heart with this body, right here and now. We don't have to wait 'til we pass on. If you wait, you pass on, you won't do it then anyway. You'll have to come again and use this body, because this body is the vehicle. It has taken, as we read in the Praecepta, eight million, eight million lifetimes of animals and lower forms to reach the stage of human being. Imagine! Eight million lifetimes to reach the stage where we have something whereby we can find and know God, and kill this tyrant, desire.
Now what are we gonna do? Are we going to, as the Master says, "Be like the moth that plunges in the flame of material desires and overlook the eternal things of life?" No. He says, "We must make full use of this vehicle. It has taken a good long while to get it! Why should we throw it away? Why not utilize it?" Why not make the best of it, its best use. Use it in the best way to know God; or speaking negatively, to overcome this desire – king material desire. We can utilize it, and we can utilize it right now.
And so realize that while we have this vehicle we must use it to the best of our ability. And by this vehicle we can attain God contact. In the Autobiography we read Sri Yukteswarji's statement that due to the uniqueness of the human being, with its, with its unique centers of the spine, it is possible to rise above all outward consciousness, all delusion, all desire, and attain oneness with God.
Desire is Satisfied in the Heart
As the Master told me, he said, "Don't neglect your body, but don't be bound by it. Take care of it, realizing it to be the only vehicle which you will have to know God." Imagine it. So we should watch that, and we should use it, as the Master said, "To the best of our ability." Make the best use of it, and the best use we can make of it is to utilize those unique centers of the spine, whereby, if we arouse and awaken them, we can easily overcome desire and attain the freedom of the Soul. The animals cannot do that. They are bound by desire. And many, many human beings cannot do that – they are bound by desire. But those who wish to, and will to, can utilize the powers within us – the spiritual divine powers – arouse the Centers of the spine, and without too much difficulty can turn back the current from flowing outwardly to the objects of senses. Turn it back inward, to the heart, where all desire will be satisfied, because that's the Law. No desire is satisfied in the outward object of sense. Every desire is satisfied in the heart. And so you can know that way to turn back the current of the senses – turn it inward, that you may satisfy every desire of the heart in the freedom of God's Great Consciousness within. We will come to that in a moment.
Remember, when you lose attachment to the objects of senses, you are free. Now that doesn't mean that you cannot eat turkey, but when you lose the attachment for the turkey – that's the point. Then you are free. So next time you eat turkey, don't be engulfed in the, the leg, you know, which is so nice, or that nice white breast of the turkey, but turn it in and say, "Father, the turkey is from You. Thou art in everything. I feel the Great Joy as I enjoy the turkey, because You are in me, and all things come from You." If you do that, there will be no attachment, and you will not lay up any more new desires which are so binding.
The First Spiritual Law
And so in overcoming this kind desire, there are two spiritual laws which we must never lose sight of: First, this is very important – if at the time of the enjoyment of the fulfillment of your desires you turn your senses, which are the subtle currents in the voluntary and involuntary nerves – if you turn that current toward the object of sense, or outward, you will never be free from desire. You will lay up new and many more desires, and you will not attain the freedom of the soul.
Now that's the first important thing. When you enjoy anything through the fulfillment of the sense – sense of eating.
If you allow the current to flow outward toward the object of your desire, you will never be satisfied, because of the Law. The satisfaction does not come in the object of sense; it comes within, in the heart. But on the other hand, if you, as you fulfill that desire, and enjoy the fulfillment of it, do this simple thing: reverse the current – turn it inward; away from the object of sense, to the heart within, to the Soul Consciousness within; every desire will be satisfied.
But greatest of all, you will lay up no more new desires, and there'll be no attachment which binds us to this outward consciousness, and to birth and death. Now isn't that wonderful, that simple thing. That's the first Great Law.
Metaphysically, it means simply this; that if we can reach the state of interiorization of consciousness, and the reversing of the currents flowing to sensation; if we can turn them in, and have an Internal Consciousness and reverse the currents - by this, which is called Pratyahara, this practice of yoga – then we can be free from desire. Now this is done – this interiorization – is done by following the Self-Realization Fellowship yoga, with its various techniques.
Before we can do that, before we can get away from that outward object of desire – in this case the turkey leg which we are talking about – before we can do that, we have to have control of our mind and consciousness, do we not? We have to learn concentration. You cannot do it without that. And so, the Self-Realization techniques which the Master has left, of which one of the most important is concentration, plus interiorization, which comes from that concentration, is necessary to overcome, and turn back the current which is flowing outward to the objects of senses. Concentration is very important. Concentration is necessary to perform the higher techniques which give us contact with God.
And so, the highest technique of concentration is the first one important one, which we learn in Self-Realization Fellowship yoga. Before that, we learn, we learn how to recharge and regenerate our body, and we learn how to handle Life Force. And remember, when you learn how to handle Life Force then you can reverse the current, because the current is Life Force. The current flowing out to the object of senses is Life Force. The current flowing in, when you turn it inward through interiorization, is still Life Force. So concentration is the first and important step which we must learn. (…)
The next important thing which we should remember is this: the second law is very important. The first law, as I have said, is to remember that when you enjoy the fulfillment of desire, which we have to do, we are living in this world, we have to do it, if you allow your senses and sensation to go toward the object of the sense, you will never fulfill your desire. It'll never be satisfied, because the desire is not satisfied in the object of sense, but in the heart within. That's the first Spiritual Law.
The Second Spiritual Law
And the second is this, very important: if you contact God, when you contact God, that will counteract every other desire you can have, because with the Realization of His Presence, no other desire can stay. And so the second great thing to remember is, if you wish to overcome your desire, and kill this tyrant, material desire, get God contact.
Get God contact.
Be one with Him.
There's no desire that will stay with you,
so Great is His Love and His Companionship.
And to do that, Self-Realization gives you the techniques. As I have said, you first learn to get hold of, so to speak, Life Force, by the recharging exercises. Then you learn concentration, as we have just, just discussed. And then Self-Realization gives you contact with God within you as the Word. "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God." Self-Realization yoga will give you the technique to contact God within you as the Holy Vibration, with its Great Sound, its Great Light, and its Omniscient Love. If you have that, you will not be troubled with desires, because that Great Love of God, which is your own, will counteract, offset, any other little material desires.
So remember those two great things, those two laws, Spiritual Laws.
Do not be attached to the object of senses.
Turn the current away from it,
where all desires will be satisfied in the heart.
And do that until, by your perseverance, and the Grace of God, you will attain Companionship with Him, and you will not be bothered – you will overcome easily this tyrant of desire.
If you want to take the power out of this king material desire, if you want to subjugate him, do every action, do everything you do with one desire – one desire to please God. It's very simple. As we talked last time I was here about self-surrender; if you can surrender yourself to God, you will have one desire – to please Him. Isn't that right? If you surrender your consciousness to the One Eternal Consciousness within, taking it out of the duality of consciousness, surrendering it to God, you'll have one desire – to please God.
Act Only to Please God
Now it says in the Gita that does not mean not to act. We are in this world, we have to act. We have to play our part. But we act in such a way as to please God. Krishna said, "I have everything. I have everything – universe upon universe – still I act. Still I do." That must be our attitude. But in doing it, we act to please God. That's the greatest thing. If I can do that, that is the greatest way to overcome desire, and with it overcome delusion – ignorance which prevents us from knowing that we are children of God, and that it is God's Omniscient Consciousness that is in us.
If we do that, if we act only to please God, then we will not have ordinary free will where we act to please ourselves or to please the environment in which we find ourselves, or the habits, or the latent impulses. That isn't freedom. That isn't acting to please God. But when you turn your attention inward – reverse the current from the object of senses inward toward the soul. Then when you act, you act in a different way. You act with true freedom, because by that action you unite your will and consciousness with God's Will. And in Him – in Him, is true freedom.
And so, in overcoming this tyrant, king material desire, remember Jesus' words when he said, he who makes the effort, he who makes the effort to go within and to know God, he attains true freedom, because he becomes one, as Jesus did, with God the Father. When he said in St. John, Revelation 3rd Chapter, 21st Verse: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
And so everyone who overcomes, who lifts the Son of Man, when he hath lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am one with my Father and that I am set down with Him. So each and every one of us, when we do that, when we battle this king desire, overcome it, turn inward, turn the current of Life Force inward, that it unites with the Presence of God within. When we do that, as Jesus realized his Oneness with God, and set down, and had all the attributes of God; so each and every one of us will realize the same thing; will realize that we are one with the Infinite Father. He is our Father, and as He has All Things, and All Power, so each and every one of us, as His child, will have All Consciousness, All Freedom, All Power.