by Smt. Susmita Devi
At the beginning of a physical life, even at the baby stage, mind starts out by building up desires - from rather innocent ones like food preference, to truly mischievous ones about getting, getting and ever more getting of whatever comes to mind. Later during the remainder of one’s physical life, a load of desires, spoken out or not, is felt. Although some desires may never exceed the generally acceptable levels due to an individual’s upbringing, some remain hidden in the recesses of mind and pop up when least expected.
Nevertheless for some, the level of desire remains quite reasonable, but for others there are no limits to the amount of untamed desires. That is why wise persons like Rishis and Sages have put up some written or verbal guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable desires. The echelon of desires is intimately connected to the society one lives in - with one’s behavior pattern and one’s power of generating income comes the inevitable growth of a multitude of desires. There are, however some ‘golden rules’, which ought to be followed, which says that any excess should be avoided. One might, for example, require a certain amount of food to survive and adequate clothes to cover the body… the question arises only when there is excess of desires or things in one’s life.
The frame of mind may change in deliberations of what may be considered basic necessities like adequate shelter and food, not to talk of medical help - depending on the social status of the individual. If such restrictions are not abided by, which unfortunately today is prevalent in a number of materially poor countries, the struggle to fulfil mere basic needs is prevents one from deliberately entertaining loftier thoughts and longings. That, which may be considered superfluous by some, however, appears as basic necessities to others depending on the society one moves in.
The superfluous desires like jewellery - even imitation – does not pertain to survival. However for societal or religious acceptance, as expressions of one’s beliefs, such ‘must haves’ are quite often yielded to in order ‘fit in’ the social circle. With India being a tradition-bound society, such outward decorations are an integral part of social life, be it cheap imitation or genuine gems, gold and silver. Yet another area, where moderation may be called for is foodstuff. It plays a great role in one’s social status to which, even rather poor people, struggle to live-up to as a measure of sociability and/or devotion.
Turning from the outward expressions of well-being through money to the inward non-expressed ones, quite a struggle is possible within the various layers of society. The Basic tenets of wanting to ‘show off’, through whatever means –physical/menial work or inherited or intellectual endeavors – are all based on yielding to the ego-sense generated by mind. That is one of the multiple reasons why ‘desires’ have to be curbed. By consciously curbing ‘unreasonable’ desires, one achieves a high level of self-control, which again leads to both physical and spiritual equanimity.
At the saintly feet of Sadguru, Sri Sri Babathakur, His followers have – over and again – heard Him point out the fallacies of ever increasing material desires along with the excellent advices not to hanker for what it is not possible for oneself to acquire in a sober manner (i.e. without cheating, without abusing anyone, and without a mind full of jealousy). It is not always easy to follow the above rules, but as any Hindu knows, there is a considerable Karmic price to be paid, if envy and jealousy are let loose in one’s mind and especially if one acts upon them. History and sayings of saints have given many, many examples of the truth of the above statement (eventually straightforwardly graspable through epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata).
Every human being - and even some animals of a higher order - must go through proportional struggles to control mind-work and instincts so as to uproot the negative part of one’s daily life called envy and/or jealousy/ pride in order to curb desires.
To conclude, the interconnection between enjoyment and desire is rooted in mindwork, and that interconnection is quite obvious. The endeavor of keeping both under control is of utmost importance for anyone attempting to lead a sober/spiritual life and by and by, adhere to the loftier parts of mindwork and negate the rather superficial – and degenerating – thoughts and action.