The way of knowledge

Desires and knowledge

According to the ancient Vedas, we have a soul, and such soul has four distinct desires. The first is dharma, the desire to fully become who we were meant to be, the longing to achieve our highest state of well-being to fulfill our destiny. The second desire is artha, the desire for the material means (money, health) necessary for fulfill our dharma. The third desire is kama, the longing for pleasure in any and all forms. The fourth is moksha, the desire to be free from the burdens of the world, experiencing spirit, to achieve lasting peace and a state beyond the reach of the other three desires.

The more separated from the whole we feel, the more egoistic will be our desires. Our knowledge of the world depends on our mind (manas), and also the fulfilment of our desires; when the mind is exclusively dedicated to fulfil egoistic desires, the knowledge is lower, indeed is ignorance. One of the schools of classical Yoga, Jnana Yoga, aims to develop higher, true knowledge. Is the way suitable for intellectual people. In ordinary people mind is so dedicated to fulfil selfish desires than become entangled with them, making a mess named kama-manas, “desire-mind”.

A short tale

Once upon a time, in the Indian part of Punjab region,  there was a young promising teacher of University, doing his post-doctoral stage: Harmanpreet, who was both a very clever man but also a follower of ancient traditions, he meditated every morning for half an hour and also use to read spiritual books. Moreover, he had a mystic temperament, he can feel joy deeply and also he can feel sorrow very deeply, more deeply than the average person, because they was more sensitive and clever. Harmanpreet was also an amorous man, that is, strongly disposed to romantic love, considered for him the highest form of love while we are in the world. He had fallen in love sometimes since their adolescence, but nothing serious.

It was the first year in  the University for Advita, a girl belonging to the low Indian caste named Shudras. Her family was a very conservative one, but also they had a strong ambition, a will of become respected in spite of their caste; the father was a respected engineering, and he wanted all their sons and also daughters had also a career, and a good job. In the Hindu tradition Advita was starting to be marriageable, so their parents started to think about, despite she was not interested at all in such subject, she was only nineteen years old.

It happens that Advita felt attracted by Harmanpreet, one or her teachers; he was so polite and clever … Soon she look for him in Facebook and ask him friendship. Harmanpreet wondered a bit, is not usual such event, a student asking friendship with a teacher, but at last he accepted. Next night, after dinner, while Harmanpreet was working on his laptop, Advita opened a chat with him, and ask him about some academic topics, starting a chat that prolonged for two hours; the two young talked about music, travels, movies, etc etc. When chat was over, Harmanpreet felt a smooth excitation, a sense of happiness, it was a very nice chat. Next weeks such chats became common, strengthening the new friendship. Slowly, almost unwittingly, such chats became the most desired times of the day. In classroom both kept their composure, they  greet with a smile, no more.

At last Harmanpreet noticed he was deeply in love with Advita, a love strong and deeper than any other he was experienced before, so he started to make plans: he imagined being presented to her parents, who sure would be happy because he was a promising teacher, also imagined a very happy, joyful life. But when the young teacher opened their heart to Advita, problems started: their parents never will let her marry with somebody that was not their own choice, arranged with the family; even more, both young was of different castes: Harmanpreet was a brahmin, the higher caste, while Advita was a Shudra, low caste. Advita’s parents was against mixed caste marriages. Being Advita  educated in obedience and respect, also considering family the most important thing it the life, any dating with Harmanpreet was closed.

So Advita started to avoid Harmanpreet, chats was over, even she didn’t greet him at class, ignoring him, although she also loved him. When Harmanpreet accepted such way, ignoring her, then the girl felt stupid herself, and looked for him with her best sonrisa, trying to keep the friendship, then Harmanpreet regained hope, trying to go further, causing the reaction of Advita, who moved away again. Such cycle happened and happened, causing a lot of suffering to Harmanpreet, who even felt ill, feverishly.

He started to meditate in the situation, reflecting, even contemplating the situation, looking for relief. While meditating, he stopped their mind from wandering, and contemplating the facts from a mindfulness state. One day he was contemplating the fact: “when I try to get close to her, following my strong desire for her, she go further, and when we relax my desire, waiting nothing, then she returns, giving me their friendship“; suddenly he had an insight, “selfish desire for her is not love, on the contrary, my desire prevents her love”  and at the same time, he noticed a strange feeling of let go, something released from him. At that very moment the longing for a romantic love was dissolved  for the insight, because he realized passionate love was not the higher kind of love, indeed, the higher love is the unattached one, when we are able to give without expect anything in return: True Love is what remains when the selfish passion ends. And Harmanpreet ceased to suffering, entering in a peaceful loving state.

The desire that Harmanpreet felt was very strong indeed, covering the four Vedic desires: he experienced dharma, the longing to achieve their highest state of well-being and fulfill their destiny, thinking Advita was the way for achieve it; also he experienced artha, the desire for the material means, thinking about Advita as it; evidently he also experienced kama, the longing for pleasure, and until a certain point also experienced moksha, the desire to experiencing spirit, to achieve lasting peace, imagining he will feel the higher kind of love through Advita. After the insight, such desires became highly purified. Harmanpreet now only wants the best for Advita, also the best for all the people around; he himself had pure Love in their heart, waiting any chance for share it with anybody, without  expectations. Such state is blissful. Harmanpreet is now a  Jnana yogi, he has higher knowledge about life and love.

Desire can prevent Love

I know this writing can be a bit controversial, but is based on my own experience, is not any philosophical or metaphysical theory.

Types of love

Our mind classifies all the contents of our conscience, even the feel of love, so we discriminate between many types of love: friendship, brotherhood, maternal love, romantic love, etc.  In fact there are only one love, but we express it in many ways, conditioned by social and moral rules, driven by our minds.

Our society often presents romantic love as the higher of all types, because is the one that is more passionate, their material expression is more intense, more physical. Romantic love have to has sex, otherwise is classified as Platonic love, a sort of non complete romantic love. Moreover, this romantic love must be unique: we have to feel love for only one person, otherwise is not true love, but desire. Which person? As movies, books, and media in general states, is your perfect partner, who you have to find. This rule is not universal, of course, there are also arranged marriages in some traditions, but I want talk about countries and cultures following the romantic love paradigm.

Love is complicated, friendship is confused

It happens that I always have found more interesting women than men, they are more opened, they express their feelings better, are less aggressive, are more socially skilled, etc. And maybe they notice it, because I usually they like me. But I have found myself in a trouble too often: sometimes desire appears in the relationship; being married, I can’t offer any kind of romantic love to more women, so pain appears, as a result of the frustrated desire. Then, we distance ourselves, and the friendship is ruined.

Maybe the reader are thinking this a trivial, very viewed history; not at all, such feelings was and are producing huge amounts of pain. Moreover, my aim is to show how desire can, and really do, ruin a nice friendship. If you’re agree with the thought “friendship is a nice type of love”, then we can state “desire can ruin such love”. Where is the problem? As always, it is in the mind. When physical attraction appears, our mind creates an idea, thinking such person is desirable: a desire born. If we don’t control such desire, it grows, and soon dominates us, confusing us: we think then we are “falling in love”. Then, soon, our mind notice such love is impossible, so desire is frustrated, and we feel pain. In response, we maybe feel angry, or feel disconsolately, or something similar, and decide to stay away from that person, the source of pain, even if there was a friendship. I lived that pattern of behaviour about five times in the last fifteen years, losing contact with friends. Is a pity, really.

By the way, the title of this section, “Love is complicated, friendship is confused“, was a group on Facebook an old friend, a girl indeed, who joined up, doing it while thinking in our relationship; I remember it well. Now a days we don’t talk, even no chat, no mail, I don’t know nothing about her, but in her own last words, “you are still my best friend, even if we don’t talk anymore“. Seems some type of censure forbidden us to talk, the censure of desire. Again, is a pity.

Are there any alternative way?

Yes, of course: be above our desires, be the Lord of our inner world, not their slave. As humans, we all experience attraction and desire; but we can see such attraction as mere information, given us by our unconscious mind, saying us: “hey, you, here there are something interesting, right?”. What can we do with this information? Well, we don’t need to do anything, we can simply say: “allright, thanks for the info”. If we don’t make such decision, then automatically the energy started within us will continue its natural way, generating the desire of stay near of the object of interest, and such energy will grow and grow until become craving, clinginess, attachment, and delusion harming us and eventually destroying the relationship and covering the Love we felt with an opaque cover.

Is essential to be enough aware of our own feelings, for to be able of notice the attraction at the very beginning of the process of attraction-desire. Also, is important to know the difference between love and attraction: for example, you can see it in my post “Attraction and desire are not Love“.

Attraction and Desire are not Love

A common feeling is that attraction between two person often drives them to desire other’s company, staying near, and then is possible to start thinking in love.

But attraction is an emotion generated for unconscious mind; there are some triggers which are activated by certain subtle stimuli, like an expression of face, tone of voice, glances, also intellectual triggers like opinions, likes and dislikes, etc. Our instinctive brain,  located outside the conscious brain, is the responsible of generation of signals: “in front of you there are a valuable person, stay close to her”.

Of course, often the signals are too superficial, and when we know better the person, then we realize is simply another person, not so special. Indeed, we aren’t talk here about intuition, but about low level physical attraction.

But when conscious mind receive such signals, if the person are living their identity as en ego, that is, a mess of thoughts, personal history, desires, etc, then the person is not able to see the signals as they really are, only automatic information generated for their low brain, instead, the person thinks he himself  is who feels the attraction. Then, is easy the conscious mind generate a desire for to be near such attractive person.

Such attraction-desire can be confused with love; lot of music, movies, books, talk us about this kind of love. But in fact is far away from true love; attraction-desire is more near to “I like you, so I want you”. Love always want to give, not to take. And Love don’t need any attraction for exist and express. Of course, it can coexist Love and attraction, but not necessarily. I think is important to clearly understand the difference. A mature person see attraction  as really is: mere information generated for their body, saying “mm, maybe you are in front of something valuable”, perhaps is good information, perhaps is not. Anyway, the person feels free for ignore it, and never will generate any automatic desire, nor confuse with love.

About love and desire

I have written some very short stories, trying to show the radical difference between love and desire, I mean desires in general, not exclusively the sexual one, but others very powerful in our lives, like desire to be loved, to be respected, to be free, to receive, and so. As all bad writers,I needed to use real facts conveniently changed, due to my lack of literary creativity.  At the end, I have included a comment about the conclusions we can make about all of it. Let’s go!

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The beautiful couple

Liz_and_Martini

Liz Taylor & Martini’s boy

He was a very handsome sixteen boy, those who knew him said he seemed an Italian playboy, and she was only thirteen, and was the nicest girl of the neighborhood, those who knew her said she seemed the actress Liz Taylor when she was very young. They met for first time at a dance, it was first seeing love. She thought he was so handsome and strong, he thought she was so sweet and beautiful. They dated for seven years and eventually got married.

First problems arise just in the honeymoon, and were increasing, but even so they had their first son a year after being married. Which problems arise? Basically, he expected a certain behavior from her, never happened, and viceversa. Their inner desires, never expressed clearly, perhaps partly unconscious, never fulfilled. As a result: increasing frustration. In the following years the relationship became more and more damaged, hurting children of course. Eventually they became separated at their middle age.

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The sisters

Perfect sisters movie

Perfect sisters movie

She was six years old when was born their sister, an event that caused an extraordinary illusion to her. She loves to help her mother to take care of the sister, and this love continued in the following years, even increased. She used to help her sister in the schoolwork, also she loved to play with her young sister. Their parents were delighted: so very nice sisters! Is not usual to see such behaviour, on the contrary, many times brothers and sisters are competitive, even rude among them.

When the young sister reached puberty, their behavior towards her older sister started to go wrong. It was inexplicable for the older, what happened? Sometimes the young ridiculed the old, sometimes ignored her, even sometimes she showed envious of her achievements. And things went worse with time. But the old sister resisted, and kept their loving behavior towards her. As a result, she became damaged a lot of times. When the old sister got married, the young aim was to sow discord between their parents and the sister’s husband, conspiring, talking bad about him, and she was successful. At a consequence, the old loving sister had bitter arguments with their parents. At last, the old sister had to accept that she could not continue in such way. Now both sister never speak, they ignore each other, even in family celebrations. And their relationship with parents, even with her husband, were damaged.

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The boss and the assistant

The assistant movie

The assistant movie

He was a middle aged man, with an intermediate position in a large company, also a good marriage, and a good economic position. All his workmates love him due their always positive attitude, also thanks he love to help others. As a boss, he loves try to help their employees to develop professionally, almost like a teacher. She was twenty six years old when she started to work as assistant of the man. It was her second job after finish their studies. She was brilliant, and quickly she learnt the teachings of the boss about the company. They hit it off from the start. Even she invited him go skiing with her friends, an invitation he had to reject due his wife not skiing at all.

Eventually she fell in love with him, and gradually started to send “signals” to him, a usual behaviour in this situation, especially when one of the partners are married.  But he didn’t notice any signal, convinced about their friendly relationship. Indeed, he also love these woman, but was a friendly love, without any desire of possession. With time, she became frustrated due to the lack of reaction of the man, and started to behaviour bad: at times she didn’t greet him, even she avoid him, she stop to talk with him, even she ask for a transfer to another section. And still the man did not understand what happened: maybe I had made something wrong? The situation damaged him a bit, because he felt rejected for an old good friend, without any explanation. At last he realized what happened. Due to their helping nature, decided to get away from her, even against their feelings, because it was the only way he could help her. At a result, the old good friends and nice workmates didn’t speak anymore, only if necessary, and in a cold and professional way,  and the friendship was broken forever. And the man learned a new lesson: take care about to be too friendly with young single women, better to be cold with them!

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Comments and conclusions

There are a common idea behind all this stories; in brief, desires can kill love, on the contrary people think. Is usual to think desire is non separable from love. But is the contrary, indeed. Frequently we think love and desire are almost synonyms. Is not true. I mean selfish desires, of course.  True love can produce desires: ones related with the welfare of beloved one. Is the case of the sisters stories, the old sister loves the young one, wants her welfare, but in this case the young don’t want the love of older, and she is not wrong at all: nobody have the obligation to accept to be loved. So selfish desires within a loving relationship can destroy it. No matter if the relationship is amongst spouses, sisters or brothers, parents and childrens, friends.

When we discover we really are made of Love, then we stop to look for it. Love wants to express, wants to externalize. When a loving person is able to express their love, he becomes blissed. So, he must to be grateful with people that allow him to love them, because through them he can develop himself, he can be who really is. Many times people think the contrary: “whether I love somebody, he must be grateful with me, right?” False, is the contrary, we are the ones who must be grateful when somebody let us love him.

Then and now

Then, my feelings was well expressed by this nice writing of the poet  Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin:

I loved you; and perhaps I love you still,

The flame, perhaps, is not extinguished; yet

It burns so quietly within my soul,

No longer should you feel distressed by it.

Silently and hopelessly I loved you,

At times too jealous and at times too shy.

God grant you find another who will love you

As tenderly and truthfully as I.

 

Now my feelings looks like this:

I desired you, now I don’t 

The flame of desire is almost extinguished 

The flame of Love is eternal, so I will love you forever 

God gives you another who will make you happy

God make me to be in peace, having loving-kindness inside

The power of desire and will

Some time ago I wrote in this blog a post named “Renunciation“, in which, as a conclusion, I wrote:

I renounce to hope of receive happiness and love as a result of relationships with other human beings, they are too complicated, confused and weak. Indeed, I renounce to search and find happiness in this crazy world.”

Well, easy to say, but not so easy to do, right? Lately I have had a few bad days, having disappointments with near people, that let me toward a bit depressed state. Fortunately, this episodes helps me to improve myself, reflecting about the causes within myself. Seems my renunciation is not so complete, hmmm…

I discovered that I still have desires about the people behavior with me, specially the loved ones. This is so natural desire, right? But, it can be very destructive, I know it so well.

My parents had strong desires related to the expected behavior of the partner; this expectations never was fulfilled, and as a consequence, both attacked each other for years, resulting a painful life, and a bad end. Both was very good persons, with good heart, but their frustrated desires generated anger and suffer.

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It is said that frequently sons and daughters repeat the unhealthy relationship patterns of their parents; well, maybe it was my case, not so hard as my parents was, but I have suffered too this failed expectations, as my wife too. And also my son is not the kind of boy I was expecting.

On the other hand, to have desires is necessary for to live, I think. Thanks to have desires, I have a nice house, a career, a good job, and a family. Both forces, desire and will to achieve the objects of desires, are our fuel for live, right?

But, I think we must have a clear power of discrimination for decide which desires we follow. In relationships field, the desire about people behavior is one of this desires that need care. We have one powerful instrument in our hands: the will to elevate our goals. Desire is always before will: we need to desire a higher live, a more spiritual one, less selfish. I remember now the words of a swami in a chat some months ago: “elevate, elevate, always elevate your life and mind“. 

So as a result of my recent bad days, I’m trying to elevate my desire: my ego are still alive, asking for a  “good” behavior of my beloved ones, generating selfish desire, but my will now is to change this desire to another at high level: the behavior is not so important, it depends on mood, thoughts, circumstances, and other temporal things; the really important are the self in the people, hidden behind the ordinary mind. If I really love a person, I have to look beyond, and try to help them, not judge them. In fact, this is the definition of a loving person: never judges us, always want to help, if we need it, right?

 

The ego death

The first time I read the word “ego” was on high school, studying Freud’s theory of identity, ego and super-ego,  and really it caught my attention: before it I thought I am a being with only one mind, but then I saw we really have more than one mind, and the worst is that these minds can fight between they! Moreover, I became confused, for I thought I lost my own individuality, lost between many “minds”: who really was I?

Many years ago, I read another great book: The power of now, by Eckhart Tolle; again, the word ego appeared, but now with a different and very worst meaning. In these time, I didn’t realize the true, I thought that Tolle was exaggerated, because for him the ego is like the devil dwelling in the human being, the cause of the wars, and many others evil things.

Some months ago, as a result of a long personal crisis, I felt something similar to the description of Tolle for myself; these night I was in my living room after a huge work day, lost in my negative thoughts; I remember I could not see any solution, I believed I was in a hopeless situation. Suddenly, it happened. Something inside me started to dissolve, this was the feeling, like a physical and real feeling. In fact, I told my wife “I’m dissolving”. Of course, she didn’t understand me, and she ignored my comment.

This situation is similar to the one reported by Tolle: he was too in a desperate situation, without any exit, maintained for a too long time; the result was a dissolution of a part of his mind, this complex structure, made of thoughts, that we named as ego, a very important part of our personality. Tolle’s experience was nice: as he says, he switched to a happiness state, in which all the bad thoughts can’t exist, and all the world around seems a incredible beautiful site. But unfortunately, it was not my case.

When part of my ego dissolved, at the same time all my desires did it too. This event brought me peace, true, for I didn’t desire changes in my situation anymore, but the collateral effect was I didn’t desire anything anymore! In such state, I was like a zombie, live but void. In the following days, my body becomes weak, I walked like I was eighty years old, and to live lost all the interest for me. It was a peaceful state, without the pain and anger I felt before, true, but it did not a good state yet, of course.

I needed some months for recover life; slowly, I discovered that we can enjoy the little things of life, such as a cup of coffe, a walk in a forest, a job well done and finished, and so, without feel any desire nor craving. And I think, after meditate about it, that this is the point: craving. When we let our mind become messed with pleasure experiences, real and imaginary, maybe future ones, mind generate strong thoughts of desire, that are mixed with our personality in a dangerous combination, because we imagine we really are our desires, giving them our vital energy. Then, when this desires don’t become fulfilled, frustration comes, and pain, and anger too. That was my situation.

In my present state I do my best without craving about the results. I enjoy the pleasures of life without become a prisoner of them. I’m not my desires. Eventually desires appears in my mind, is a natural behavior, but I don’t let them to stay in my mind, they only fly in procession and go away, dissolving their energy. By the way, my own words remember me now a Zen book that was read for my father in the 70’s, “Zen and the birds of appetite” by Thomas Merton. Quoting it:

“The birds may come and circle for a while… but they soon go elsewhere. When they are gone, the ‘nothing,’ the ‘no-body’ that was there, suddenly appears. That is Zen. It was there all the time but the scavengers missed it, because it was not their kind of prey.”

Yeah, this is the feeling, Merton named it Zen, Tolle named now power, etc. Names are not important. I only want to share here that the state exists, I can say it for my own experience.

Namaste.