By Purnima Coontoor July 2013 Purnima Coontoor turns to God to find out the all-important question of how to move from desire towards desirelessness 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.” “Oh, them!” “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?” “Abso
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