Quotes on Desires
Desire is produced by indiscriminate contact with the objects of the senses. Expressing as the likes and dislikes of the ego, desire creeps into the consciousness of one who is not watchful enough in governing the reaction of his feelings to his various experiences in the world. It is a condition the ego imposes on itself, and is therefore detrimental to man's evenmindedness.
Whatever has its origin in desire is a disturbing element, for desires are like stones pelted into the calm lake of consciousness. Attachment to pleasure or aversion to pain both destroy the equilibrium of the inner nature. ...
These psychological twins, man's feelings of pleasure and sorrow, have a common father: they spring from desire. Fulfilled desire is pleasure and contradicted desire is pain or sorrow. They are inseparable: Just as night inevitably follows day as the earth revolves on its axis, so pleasure and pain revolve on the axis of desire—the one ever alternating with the other.
Desire is what holds you in mortal bondage. If you want a big home on a hill with a view, a nice income, a good marriage and family, you may wear yourself out striving to get these things, then perhaps your spouse leaves you for somebody else, or you get sick, or your business fails—that is the nature of human happiness.
Every unfulfilled active desire,
unless roasted by wisdom,
plants a new desire-seed in the mind.
These desire-seeds are more compelling than impulsive fresh desires, deeply rooting themselves in the subconscious, ready to spring up suddenly with demands that are most often unreasonable, frustrating, and sorrow-producing. As desire begets desires, the only way to end the cycle is to destroy the causes. (bg)
Fulfillment of a particular desire seems necessary
only if one lacks conviction that he can find perfect fulfillment in God. One who is at peace in God
is not tortured by unfulfilled earthly desires.
As often as we have come on earth we have developed new imperfections and new desires. So we come back here again and again until we fulfill all desires; or until, through increase of wisdom, we banish those desires. We must satisfy our desires, or by cultivating wisdom, do away with them altogether.
Your fulfillment lies not in obtaining the objects of your desire, but in the unfoldment of your soul qualities
in making the effort to succeed in worthwhile endeavors.
A devotee who is master of his senses is ready for emancipation. He who succumbs to temptations will remain entangled in sense objects, far removed from soul knowledge. Every indulgence in any form of sense-lures reinforces the desire for that experience. Repetition leads to the formation of nearly unshakable bad habits.
You must learn to work without desire,
and to live in this world without attachment.
As soon as you are caught by desires or attachment, you will have all the evil that is coming to you. This is why the Gita says: "O Arjuna! no (compelling) duty have I to perform; there is naught that I have not acquired; nothing in the three worlds remains for Me to gain! Yet I am consciously present in the performance of all actions."* [*Bhagavad Gita III:22.] Those who want to be liberated must do likewise, engaging in serviceful, joyful, nonattached activity. Most people willingly work hard for money, but they won't make even a little effort for their salvation. We must work for God. The way to do this is to noncooperate with evil and to behave as God would have us behave. (dr p.110)
Sense delights, in reality, are felt as pleasurable only through an act of imagination by the soul, created by the interaction of the sense mind with the objects of the senses. Man can be truly happy only within his soul nature of bliss, omniscience, and wisdom. He can never be contented by imagining himself to be happy because the senses are happy. ...
First of all, the sensations of beauty, melody, fragrance, taste, and touch are not experienced on the skin surface, but in the brain. The sensation of the taste of a strawberry is felt in the brain as a mental reaction, evolving from the contact of the fruit with the surface of the tongue. When the mind identifies favorably with the sensation of strawberry flavor, it likes it. (bg)
Man's life is a paradox. He is the soul, made in the image of Spirit, which can be satisfied only with divine pleasures; yet bodily incarnate, he is familiar only with sensory experiences. Placed as he is between the material and the spiritual, he must use his endowment of discrimination to distinguish between the real soul pleasures and the illusory pleasures of the senses. Krishna says: "If you want to know the joy of heavenly consciousness vibrating in every cell of the ether, do away with sense attachment!" (bg)
Desires are formed according to one's environment; they are created by, and therefore limited by, your sense perceptions. ... Live with thieves and you think that is the only life. But live with divine persons, and after having divine communion, no other desires can tempt you. ... Human desires are not perfect, hence their fulfillment does not lead to perfect happiness.
Unfulfilled desires are
the root cause of reincarnation.
You don’t have to be a king in order to have complete fulfillment. Nor do you end desires by giving up everything and becoming a poor man. You have your own self-created destiny with its lessons to be learned, and you must play well that part for which you were sent here. If everybody on the stage wants to be a king or queen, there will be no play. An actor with even a minor part can ruin the entire production by a poor performance. Every role is important; everyone should interact harmoniously for the success of the play.
I enjoy everything, but I have no desire for anything, so there is never any pain or disappointment from unfulfillment. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I enjoy myself.
Material things cannot be owned by anybody, for at death they must be left behind and given to others. We are only allowed to use the objects of this world. So it is foolish to be possessed by material possessions. Just pray to be given the use of what you need, and the power to create those things at will.
Until you fulfill your strong desires, your mind will not rest; it ceaselessly works toward fulfilling those desires. Your mind should be on God night and day in the same way. Transmute petty desires into one great desire for Him. Your mind should continually whisper, "Night and day, night and day, I look for Thee night and day."
The only way to outwit earthly disappointments over prosperity, fame, and happiness is not to feel sorry when you are denied what you think you want.
The world ends for us when we are free from desires. I enjoy everything, but I have no desire for anything, so there is never any pain or disappointment from unfulfillment. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I enjoy myself.
The truth is, only fools are attached to this world. “Fools” are those who live in ignorance, those to whom the world is real because they think it is the only way of life.
In the name and guise of fulfilling one's needs, ego lures man to continuous seeking of self-satisfaction, resulting in suffering and vexation. What would content the soul is forgotten, and the ego goes on endlessly trying to satisfy its insatiable desires. Kama (lust) is therefore the compelling desire to indulge in sensory temptations. Coercive materialistic desire is the instigator of man's wrong thoughts and actions.
The initial state of happiness accompanying sensuality is always followed by unhappiness, owing to the impairment of physical vitality, mental self-control, and spiritual peace. It is the enigma of maya that the poison of sensual experiences is found to be so pleasant in the beginning. The initially pleasurable taste of the poisonous honey of evil deludes people and so causes them to indulge in harmful experiences. If evil had no charm, nobody would try it. People swallow the bitter pill of evil because it is sugarcoated with immediate pleasure. (bg)
Lust applies to the abuse of any or all of the senses in the pursuit of pleasure or gratification. Through the sense of sight man may lust after material objects; through the sense of hearing, he craves the sweet, slow poison of flattery, and vibratory sounds as of voices and music that rouse his material nature; through the lustful pleasure of smell he is enticed toward wrong environments and actions; lust for food and drink causes him to please his taste at the expense of health; through the sense of touch he lusts after inordinate physical comfort and abuses the creative sex impulse. Lust also seeks gratification in wealth, status, power, domination—all that satisfies the "I, me, mine" in the egotistical man. Lustful desire is egotism, the lowest rung of the ladder of human character evolution. By the force of its insatiable passion, kama [desire for material pleasures] loves to destroy one's happiness, health, brain power, clarity of thought, memory, and discriminative judgment.
By constant self-indulgence, the ordinary person remains sense-ensnared. He finds himself limited to enjoyments connected only with the surface of the flesh. This sense pleasure yields a fleeting happiness, but shuts off the manifestation of the subtle, more pure and lasting enjoyments—the taste of silent blessedness and the innumerable blissful perceptions that appear whenever the meditating yogi's consciousness is turned from the outer sensory world to the inner cosmos of Spirit. The transient, misleading physical sense emotions are a poor substitute for heaven!
So long as a man has any material desires, he has to work out his karma in a physical body. When he is able to extricate himself, by nonattachment and the practice of Kriya Yoga, from all fleshly delusions and bondage, he then finds himself confined in the astral body and entangled in his astral karma. By deeper immersion in ecstasy, the devotee escapes from the astral body and becomes lodged in the causal or ideational body, vibrating with the original subtle seeds of all past karmic impulses.
By constant self-indulgence, the ordinary person remains sense-ensnared. He finds himself limited to enjoyments connected only with the surface of the flesh. This sense pleasure yields a fleeting happiness, but shuts off the manifestation of the subtle, more pure and lasting enjoyments—the taste of silent blessedness and the innumerable blissful perceptions that appear whenever the meditating yogi's consciousness is turned from the outer sensory world to the inner cosmos of Spirit. The transient, misleading physical sense emotions are a poor substitute for heaven! (bg)
Further readings: Ways to Overcome Desires
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines