Every scripture in the world will tell you that desire is at the root of all our unhappiness. But it is also intrinsic to human nature that we desire. The way to deal with desire then is to not resist it but to understand it, appreciate it and make an intelligent choice. Desire cannot be dropped. Because desire is an energy. And energy cannot be destroyed. When the energy, the desire arises, go it its root and understand it. Do you need what you desire or do you want it? If you need it, go for it. If you want it, you can still go for it, but absolve yourself of all guilt. Make a free choice by remaining alert, being awake and by practicing awareness.
The latest issue of India Today runs a cover story on ‘The Untold Story’ of Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with practicing celibacy based on now available excerpts from the personal diaries of Manuben, who was his personal attendant for many years and was with him at the time that he was assassinated. It is common knowledge that Gandhi’s experiments with celibacy involved sleeping naked with female companions. People then, and now, see it as an eccentric side of a Mahatma, Great Soul. Others find it condemnable and questionable. We will never know why Gandhi used this method to deal with, in an attempt to perhaps conquer, his sexual desires. It is believed that Gandhi looked to conquer this enormous energy within, which would have only helped satiate his selfish and intensely personal desire, his lust, and direct that energy in the pursuit and practice of ahimsa, to help his country and its citizens. It was Gandhi’s personal choice and something he had the honesty, as Manuben’s diary jottings reveal amply now, to make no bones about what he did as part of this practice.
While the India Today story will be lapped up by its readers for the sheer expose it offers into the private Life of one of the most revered Indians, it helps us, on another plane, to reflect deeply about our own ability to deal with desire. I lean to Osho, the Master, for a better understanding of the anatomy of desire. Osho says the energy behind desire and the energy behind creation, existence, are one and the same. He quotes from the Eastern scriptures where legend has it that God had a great desire. To expand beyond himself. And so, in order to grow from one to many, he let his desire create us__humans. So, fundamentally, all desire is about expanding oneself because we are all an offshoot of the same creative energy. Fighting desire, therefore, means fighting with ourselves. No desire is bad unless you succumb to it and it starts to enslave you. And nothing must be succumbed to. We must not capitulate but we must choose freely. When a desire, let us say to smoke, to drink, to eat an additional gulab jamun, to have sex, to get angry, to feel frustrated, to be jealous, whatever, arises, look at the desire not as if you are desiring it but as a third person. As an observer. Understand the desire with your awareness. Where there is awareness, there will be prudence. It is only when we are blinded that we succumb mindlessly to our desires. When we stay alert, we will always be able to deal with the desire intelligently, effortlessly __ perhaps, overcome it by letting go of it, perhaps, choosing it consciously.