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Freedom From Desire Is Total Happiness - Teachings On Desire From Various Hindu Scriptures

A collection of teachings on desire from various Hindu scriptures.

Freedom from desire is total happiness.

Whatever is done by a human being is prompted by some desire.

A desire prompts us to make a plan and execute it. We expect sweet fruits from that karma, but often the fruits turn out to be bitter. We get frustrated. That generates anger and, as the Bhagavad Gita points out, losing our self-possession we get deluded and slide into ruin.

Desires are not satiated by their fulfillment; the more one tries to satisfy them, the more they grow.
Attempts to fulfill a desire give rise to more desires.

The more desires a person has, the more agitated his or her mind will be.

The seers of Yoga and Vedanta speak of sublimation of urges and desires, not of their repression. Sublimation is spiritualizing all our urges and desires by channeling them towards the attainment of Self-knowledge, in which all desires and urges find their supreme fulfilment. Self-knowledge is not just cessation of suffering and attainment of peace, but intense bliss. When a person advances toward this Knowledge, he begins to taste the bliss of the Self and finds sense enjoyments increasingly tasteless and insipid.

It is impossible to give up all our desires. Therefore, we must have proper discrimination. We must not be driven by desires. Instead, we must be the master and take proper control over which desires need to be fulfilled and in such a manner that they do not give rise to new desires.

Arjuna asked Sri Krishna what compels man to commit sin in spite of himself, driven, as it were, by force. Bhagavan said, ‘These are desire and anger, born of rajas. Know these two to be the enemies, all-devouring, and the cause of all sin.

Every desire-prompted work is born in ignorance — ignorance of our real nature. Avidya-kama-karma (ignorance-desire-action) is a chain Sri Adi Shankaracharya often refers to in his commentaries. Vedanta does recognize the need for gradual sublimation of desires and sanctions desires that are not contradictory to dharma.

The potter shapes various forms with unburnt clay, but he cannot work the clay that has once been burnt. In the same way the heart that has been burnt in the fire of worldly desires cannot be acted upon by any higher sentiment, and is incapable of being moulded into any lovely form.

Both the good and the pleasant present themselves before man. The wise (intelligent) one examines them well and discriminates between them. He prefers the good to the pleasant. The dull one chooses the pleasant out of greed (to acquire more) and desire (to protect what he has).

Karmas bear fruit as ordained by Bhagavan, but by themselves they cannot grant you salvation. By performing selfless actions one’s mind can become pure. With a pure mind one should contemplate the Self. This would destroy the vasanas (latent desires).

Once Swami Turiyananda heard a person arguing in front of Sri Ramakrishna, saying that this world is real. After listening to him, the Master said to him, ‘Ram, why don’t you say in simple words that even now you have the desire to enjoy the sour dish of hog-plum (the worthless pleasures of the world)? What is the need for all this vain argumentation?’ What response could have been more forceful and irrefutable? The truth is that if one has attachments one is afraid to renounce the world. But to hide this attitude and imagine that one can realize God without giving up attachments, only indicates one’s natural inner weakness.