Seeking - The end of craving
by Purnima Coontoor
Here I was, finally in front of God after a long wait (several lifetimes?), all ears, pen poised over scribble pad, every cell in me throbbing with excitement. I was ready with my questions, had been forever, but at this moment I was rattled, to put it mildly. I was a nervous wreck.
He did not look like anything I had imagined, and when his welcoming grin revealed rotten teeth, I blurted, “Why do you look like this?” and immediately regretted spoiling the long-awaited moment.
“What is wrong with my look?” He asked kindly, eyes twinkling.
“Well….” He looked unkempt, unfed, and unshaven, with sunken eyes and cheekbones sticking out, stringy hair that badly needed trimming, clad in a once-white ill-fitting kurta and pyjama and no footwear. In short, He looked like a tramp and I did not like it.
“A bit more traditional and dignified, perhaps, and clean and smelling good and more like God?” I thought to myself, but too scared to say it aloud. I need not have bothered, though.
“So be it – take your pick,” said God, and started changing form so fast that my head reeled – all forms of God in the pantheon of all religions, from gaudy calendar art to cryptic modern art and beautiful classical art; from all theologies and all of humanity flashed before me, until I finally cried, “Stop, this one is fine” to a Dumbledore-like figure from Harry Potter; white flowing hair and robes, of indeterminate age, sagely, soothing, acceptable.
“Typical, eh,” He grinned, “Is that the best you can do? You cramp my style severely, you do. And I was just getting started…”
I thought again crossly, “Cramping your style indeed! How can a mere human do that?”
“Oh you do, always, all the time, with your preconceived desires,” said the mind reader, “your limited imagination limits me as well. But we will come back to that later. Now, do tell why you wanted to see me.”
“You already know, isn’t it?” I said, startled by that profound statement, but emboldened by his easy demeanour.
“But you still need to articulate it to receive answers.”
“Well … er…ahem…”
“Why the hesitation?”
“I don’t want to sound stupid,” I said, feeling stupid for saying that.
God sighed. “Why do you complicate things? Just talk to me freely, as if you are talking to yourself.”
I looked closely to confirm if he was serious. He was.
“Look,” He said, “I seriously have no expectations from you or anything else, so I cannot be disappointed. I have no notions of how you should be, so I am not judgmental. I have no interest in impressing you, so I have no anxiety. I have no goal to achieve, so I have no agenda. I have nowhere to go, so I am in no hurry. In fact, you can say I have no desire at all. So try me… I am all yours.” He looked at me expectantly.
“Wait!” I cried, “You have already come to the last question on my list, which is about ‘desirelessness.’ Can we please go over this slowly? Else my article will get over even before it begins!”
“As you wish, as always.”
“First tell me why desire is not desirable.”
“That has already been answered by the awakened ones in your world, isn’t it?
“But I still need you to articulate it for me to receive the answers.” Aha – got Him!
“Smart, and right,” God conceded. “No stated truth will become yours until you discover it for yourself. Let us begin with what you know.”
“I understand in a broad sense that whatever man desires over and above his basic need could be termed as greed – but this definition is so very subjective that it cannot be universally applied. Excessive or even modest desires, though, lead to setting of unreasonable goals, exertion of time, money, energy, and resources, giving rise to anxiety and friction along the way, with no guarantee of success. So desiring has the potential of ending in disappointment, heartache and blah blahblah…” He did say I could talk as if to myself, “But, a life without desire seems no fun, pointless.”
“Hmmm. That is how it would seem from where you are right now. However, look at me – I have no desires and I am not bored. On the contrary I never experience a dull moment in existence!”
“You do not count – but tell us, O Lord, how you manage this feat!”
A lesser God might have been offended by the jibe, but not Him. “Imagine you are watching a game of poker. You are neither playing yourself nor rooting for your friend, you have nothing at stake. You know all the players and all their cards and all their moves, you know the outcome too, since you created the game in the first place, and know exactly what moves cause what effect, but won’t it still be engaging to see how the players play the game anyway? To go through their excitement and suspense, their frustration and satisfaction, their thrill of victory and the angst of defeat? To be able to guide them if asked for advice? You will find that it never bores, the game is played differently each and every time!”
“But that sounds cruel – You are enjoying this game called life vicariously, through us? And you make us go through its ups and downs just so you might have some fun?”
“The accusation sounds familiar,” sighed God, “And utterly uninformed. I do not need to ‘enjoy’ or ‘do’ anything because I have no needs at all. I am just explaining my state of being at all times in terms that you can understand. I have created the game of life and put in some rules that kick into action by default, depending on the moves. That’s it. The game plays by itself. The players get affected by the outcome of the game repeatedly, until they learn to play it with detachment, as I do sometimes. Or they drop it altogether because they do not need to experience it anymore, and merely watch it, like I do all the time.”
“Why did you create the game in the first place, and the players and the rules? Because you desired it! That’s it! It all started with your desire,” I accused again.
“My dear, if I could get offended, I would, by this statement. It is not my desire but my will that created the game.”
“And that is different?”
“It most definitely is. My will is complete, whole, full, and final in itself. You can neither add to it nor take away anything from it. It cannot be improved upon. It is unbound by a beginning or an end. It remains unchanged and unaffected by time, space, and other external influences. Once willed, it is released into the universe to evolve by itself. I do not attempt to control any of its outcomes because I have no control over them.”
He added, “Whereas man’s desires are not self-fulfilling – it takes physical and mental effort to realise them, and they are affected by several forces, not all in his control either. Man’s desire arises out of his mind, which is too small to accommodate the expanse of the universe. It can accommodate only his limited self. Therefore, his desire, by default, is bound by lack, and not released into abundance. Thus it cannot realise its full potential.”
I had a feeling I was missing something profound here, and tried to simplify it all in my (limited) mind, “Let me understand. Your will is universal and hence unlimited, man’s desire is selfish and hence limited. Your will is inclusive and man’s desire is exclusive. Your will is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Man’s desire is bound by his mind, his time, and his space. Once willed, you are not in control of the outcome, and do not wish to, and once he desires man is not in control either but he attempts to.” I stopped dead in my tracks. “What! You are not in control of the outcome of your will?”
“I already told you, not me but my rules are. In addition, the rules are non-negotiable, irrevocable. The rules cannot be flouted to accommodate your desires, which you often try to do, and hence the outcome is not as desired by you.”
I pondered over this. “And what are these rules?”
“Good! It’s a sign of intelligence to get to know the rules of the game before you play it, isn't it? Or at least realise half way that there are rules? But are you sure you want to hear from me again, and risk getting irritated? For you know them by heart already.”
“Remind me anyway.”
“Your desires arise out of your likes and dislikes, and invariably leave a trail of greed, anger, pride, envy, and attachment in their wake, and therein have the potential to flout my rules.”
“See – you have bandied about the terms so recklessly that they have ceased to have any meaning anymore. The rules state – if you can manage your desire by steering clear of those potentially destructive states of being, you are home.”
This was getting interesting. “How to do that? Any desire is bound to create some tension – and some of these states of being – in me.”
“Yes it does, because in your anxiety to achieve your goal, you miss the joy of manifesting your desire.”
“I miss the joy of manifesting my desire,” I repeated, hoping to understand the import, “Something like not enjoying the journey, because I am intent on the destination?”
“How can I do that?”
“Watch a child paint – does she paint to produce a masterpiece or just because she likes playing with colour? If the river was intent only on reaching the sea, it would not meander, and dance and gurgle.”
“These examples are too simplistic, God. We are not talking about desire in these cases. The child has no idea of future, and the river is not a sentient being.”
God sighed again. “Let’s come back to it later. Where were we?”
“With the friendly neighbourhood commoner who cannot be without desire, but would like to steer clear of the destructive states of being in achieving it.”
“Try having a desire by all means, but do not let that shut you to other possibilities.”
“Let me. I have a desire of how my dream house should be. I do all that I need to do to make that happen, manage to enjoy the process.” I roll my eyes here; nagging the builder for the umpteenth time, to get his plumber to get those bathroom fixtures right is not my idea of fun at all, “but when I find that the cabinet I wanted fixed on the north wall of the kitchen, is firmly banged to the wall on the west, I let it be, because it’s another possibility, and I need to be open to it?”
God laughed uproariously “You are funny! No, it is actually fine to take that carpenter to task for not doing his job right, if such trivialities bother you. I am talking of what you would look at as something more serious here.”
“Like the house not happening at all.”
“What? How am I supposed to accept, nay, enjoy that?”
“Maybe it was not right for you. Maybe something better will come up. Maybe it will not. Maybe I will it that way. It might look like it is unfair at that moment, but if you are patient you will find that I am always right, have always been, always will be. Because I love you unconditionally, and shall always will the best for you.”
Heard this one before, and not buying it, “Tell that to the homeless, and you will get a black eye before you know it.”
“Glad you mentioned that,” said God, “A well deserved black eye, I must say, for anyone who dispenses such unwarranted, unsolicited advice to people who do not need it or are ready for it. Do me a favour and please stop spreading such messages to them in my name, ok? Thanks!”
“Oh,” an awkward pause after yet another profound statement, “So what should I tell the homeless and hope-less, when they are angry at having been shortchanged in life?”
God rolled His eyes dramatically, “Don’t tell them anything; give them what they need if you can. Adopt a child, patronise an old age home, sponsor education, you know the works. How else can I help them, if not through you?”
“Oh,” I was getting more and more bewildered here, “So You do desire to help them?”
“I have no desire to do anything. It is through people who desire to help them that I do.”
“Ok, I got it. But apart from the unselfish acts of compassion, how are the other millions of kinds of work done in the world, if you do not desire anything at all? How can the world run without desire? How can anybody do anything without desire? How can one set out to do something without a specific goal? If man had no desire, he would not have invented the wheel, or penicillin or the telephone or the internet. The modern world – or any civilisation for that matter – would not be what it is, but for man’s desire for progress!”
“Aha, back to the basics, are we?” said God gleefully. “Are you sure it is not man’s desire for progress, but my natural law of evolution at work here?”
“And,” God continued, “Do you notice that most inventions and discoveries are serendipitous? Alexander Fleming stumbled upon the antibiotic properties of penicillin. The wheel was not conceived the way it is now because it did not exist before. The desire was very basic – for locomotion – and the wheel evolved on its own. It is the same with all inventions.”
“You mean that you ensure the progress of civilisation, through man!”
“You got it!”
Passion to heal people resulted in the discovery
of magical penicillin, by Alexander Fleming “And when does that happen?”
“It happens when man’s mind is open to possibilities, and not bogged down by expectations, fear of failure, loss, criticism, and the like, and when his efforts are eventually beneficial to the whole of humanity.”
I pondered over this. “Are you saying it's ok to desire, if the motive is not selfish?”
“Not desire but passion. All great things come about when they are born out of passion, not mere desire. A passionate person bothers not about the result, but pours his all into the process itself. His passion is not a means to an end but an end in itself. He does not necessarily set out to do good to the world, nor does he seek acclaim and fortune, at least not consciously, but he invariably gets them as a result, and those will be far more than his wildest expectations because he expected nothing in the first place. Like Columbus, like Tagore, like Beethoven. That is how the most successful, lasting, beautiful creations and useful innovations in the world came into existence.”
“Hmmm, art for art’s sake?”
“And life for life’s sake.”
“But some of the most successful business enterprises of the world are purely commercial. They have come into existence by the founder’s drive and ambition that requires a certain ruthlessness and killer instinct on their part, like Microsoft, like Reliance, like Facebook.”
“Surely these are built by people propelled by limited motives, but the grandness of their vision includes a good section of the world’s population by default. Innumerable families today are making a living through such initiatives. The world is the beneficiary of their dream. It’s not just desire but passion that separates the boys from the men.”
“Or girls from women.”
“Of course, how can I forget,” He grinned. “Look, spare yourself the agony – don’t take the words literally.”
“OK, but it's not that simple, is it God? Most people who live by their passion die frustrated, in agony, in penury, in ignominy, like Ayn Rand.
|Even though driven by commercial reasons, the grandness of Mark Zuckerberg's vision enabled him to create the stupendously successful Facebook.|
“As long as it is pure passion driving them, their mind and ego have taken a back seat, so I am with them until my mission is completed. When their passion turns into obsession, I leave.”
“Oh.” Another prolonged pause as I assimilate this statement. “What is wrong with man’s mind and ego? How can he operate without them?”
“Nothing wrong, I gave them to him myself, but if he experiences pain and suffering again and again, lifetime after lifetime, it is because he becomes their servant instead of their master.”
“And so you leave him?”
“In the sense that he loses the ability to listen to me, to his inner voice, I do. In the sense that he feels incapable of experiencing peace, contentment, happiness and joy at all times, which is his birthright, I leave him. So either man lets go of his desire for control, or I let go of him.”
“So man needs to use his mind and ego only to the extent that he can accomplish things to ultimately experience peace and joy?”
“Yes, and he needs to let go. A tree bears the fruit on its branches only for as long as it takes the fruit to ripen completely. The tree then lets the fruit fall on its own. It has no desire to cling to it forever. That is the natural way for the tree to regenerate itself, to retain its vitality and utility. But the tree is not a sentient being, hmm?” smiled God.
“No, it is not. So it is a bit difficult to understand the analogy. God, what are the implications of you being with man, and you leaving him?”
“I am with man as long as his desire is aligned with my will. I will be his partner in his ability to create, innovate, celebrate, and give shape to his dreams. When it shrinks to fulfilling his selfish and limited needs, when his accomplishments give him a sense of ownership and doership, when he starts gloating over his talent and his achievements, treading on toes and seeking control, when his desires overwhelm him and compel him to flout my rules to fulfill them I leave and my rules kick into action. He will then have to contend with fate and destiny.”
“And that means….”
“He will have to live by trial and error, which means contending with fear, self-doubt, uncertainty, anguish, frustration, disappointment, and failure. To repeat, as long as man can cooperate with me, just as the tree, which lends itself utterly to my law, which is the law of nature, he becomes co-creator along with me. As soon as his mind and ego take over, he loses the privilege of working with me.”
I grappled to come to terms with these revelations. “Can I recap the ways one can ‘work’ with you? One, by being selfless in my acts. Two, by being passionate about my work. Three, by having a vision that benefits a large section of society. Four, by letting go.”
“But God,” I ventured timidly, “I am neither an innovator like Steve Jobs nor a passionate artist like Da Vinci, I have neither the missionary zeal of a Mother Teresa, nor the patriotic zeal of a Bhagat Singh. I have no desire to build a business empire or be a messiah of the masses. I have no vision and mission in my life. I am an average individual with ordinary, simple, mundane desires. But even fulfilling those simple, ordinary, mundane desires seem to me like a chore. I would like to simply forget those as well and potter around my garden and family and my laptop with no worry of the morrow. Is there any hope for me?
“So what is preventing you from doing just that? Potter around with no worry of the morrow all you wish!”
“Because I feel if I do not ‘do’ anything about them I am being irresponsible.”
“What responsibility are you talking about?” God thundered! “Do you realise that you cannot even lift your little finger if I do not will it? Are you responsible for you to breathe, to pump the blood in your veins, to digest your food and grow nails? On the contrary, I manage very well until you interfere in the process with your unhealthy lifestyle, and make yourself sick. So why can’t you trust me to meet all your other needs too, without interfering, asking, demanding, desiring?”
“And, do you even know how futile your desiring is?” He continued, “Because…One, you do not know what is good for you. Two, you do not have the vision to see beyond your own nose. Three, you cannot differentiate between need and greed. Four, my will is all-inclusive, which has already accommodated your ordinary mundane desires as well as cosmic plans for the planets and stars and other universes, for all times to come. Five, my plans for you are far grander than any plan you might have for yourself.”
I was stunned.
“Yes. Does that come as a surprise to you? You desire 10 when I am ready to shower you with 1000. You desire a piece of land when I am willing to give you the earth. You desire the world and I am telling you the whole Universe is yours. You desire the Universe… and still you will be left wanting, because you have no idea what the Universe is.”
“So what do I need to do?”
“Fall in line with me. Fall in line with my will. Fall in line with the unlimited. Fall into the realm of being.”
“I don’t know how to tap into that realm!” I cried in anguish, “I can only try.”
Desirelessness attunes one to the source
of creation, which results in abundance “Wrong again! Trying implies effort, while the key to enjoying complete freedom from want is effortlessness. Effort is needed at the gross levels of physical and mental, not at the subtle level of being. The more you move into the subtle, the easier it is to do so, for real work gets done only at that level.”
“How?” I asked again, humbly.
“Start paying attention to your thoughts; it will help you eventually fall into silence and move within, where the states of surrender, let-go, love, trust, compassion, selflessness, non-desire, non-doing and the like abide. Let them well up from within as you move from the gross to the subtle, and take over the reins of your life. Let your vision become more expansive and inclusive….”
“…and let my desire transform into your will, which is self-fulfilling!”
“Perfect! So simply stop desiring and start living, right now! Potter around the garden, fully involved. Peel potatoes as if it is the last potato you will ever peel, with love. Undertake every task that falls into your lot as if you were chosen to do that and only that, and nothing else at that moment, which is the truth. Do not waste a single moment wishing you were doing something else, were someone else, and were somewhere else, with someone else. Dedicate completely to the moment at hand by using all your faculties to the fullest, and that is your only responsibility. Do you get it?”
I was overwhelmed. “Yes, God. My only responsibility is to immerse myself completely in the present moment, irrespective of what it might hold for me.”
“And suddenly you will see that you will start intuiting rather than thinking. You will find yourself doing and saying the right things, being at the right place at the right time, meeting the right people and creating the right situations for yourself to attract whatever is due to you. You will no longer have to seek your dream house or dream job or dream travel destination – they will come seeking you at your doorstep, when the time is just right, maybe as an irresistible offer, which can be achieved with minimal effort on your part.”
It all sounded so blissful! “How will I know that I am on the right track?”
“When you find that divine synchronicity has taken over human effort more and more in your life.”
“Like in the birds and bees, trees and rivers?” I said eagerly, with newfound understanding.
“Exactly,” smiled God. “So live each day as if the gates are left open, charge into each moment with gusto and wonder, ready to be surprised, eager to discover, uncorrupted by past impressions and unburdened by future implications. Where is the time to desire when you start living intensely?”
“Where is the time to desire indeed?” I repeated, very much in awe. “And thus I move from desire to desirelessness! And,” I wondered, “If I become without desire, will all negativity then vanish from my life?”
“You still nurture a desire that negativity should vanish from your life. That is good only as a starting point, but in dropping desire itself you will eventually have no preferences, only acceptance of the moment and whatever it brings. Finally you will stop labeling emotions, people, and situations as negative and positive, everything is just the moment.”
“And in the process, if the moment brings fear, anger, sorrow, envy?”
“You will have no preference for any other feeling at that moment – you experience it fully when it arises, without denying it or feeling guilty. When you live each moment intensely you’ll see that all emotions exhaust themselves without surfacing any time soon in the near future.”
Amazing! Was it really so simple? “Is it really possible? Am I capable of this shift in my being?”
“Start living them and if they are true, they will last. What is false will automatically drop, and new insights will arise in you, hmmm?” God said gently, or did he, or was it I?
Maybe I will never know. But at the moment, I am ok with that!
See more articles on Seeking : http://www.lifepositive.com/Articles/Seeking
Subject: To the author- The end of craving - 27 August 2013
Hi This looks like a deep conversation with one‘s own self, usually by a mind which is attuned to the inner most self. I really appreciate the style of simplicity used to put forth a seemingly difficult perspective. I have no wonders that you are a soulful aware person since your writi More...
by: Purnima Manhas
Subject: desire to desireless - 19 July 2013
i have really liked the article wich is very practicle if followed seriously but sad part is everybody understands it but diffuclt to apply in material world.i wish everybody follow the said article than good will prevail in entire universe.
by: yogendra goenka
Subject: THE END OF CRAVING - 7 July 2013
beautiful article . it seems it is the summary of all spiritual teaching,conclusion of great scripture Bhagvad Geeta in modern language
Subject: Brilliant article - 1 July 2013
A brilliant article ! It slowly grows and finally culminates into an‘ Aha ! kind of feeling. Loved the part about Responsibility and about being in the present completely !! Thank You; the timing for my reading it was perfect.
by: Nalini Varshney
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