Freedom from Desire
(Continued from previous issue)
How to Become Free from Desire (Continued)
senses: Senses means not only the five sense organs, but also the
mind. Mind is the inner organ and the most powerful of the sense organs.
In any perception the mind connects itself to the concerned sense organ
and the sense object, so control of mind is fundamental to control of
desires. What controls the mind? It is buddhi, the determinative and
discriminative faculty, which lies dormant in us as long as we are swayed
We saw earlier that
our degradation begins when our will (the dynamic aspect of buddhi) gets
hooked to desire. When we succumb to a desire, our will does not have a
separate existence: it merges with the mind and the senses. A man who is a
slave to sense enjoyments identifies himself only with his mind and body,
and is not conscious of having a separate will. He begins to grow in
mental strength only when he succeeds in freeing his will from the hold of
desires. Though our will is bound, it is through will alone that release
is possible. Sri Krishna says that besides the senses and the mind, buddhi
is also the seat of desire. (Bhagavad Gita, 3.40) But he also says
elsewhere in the Gita, “Take refuge in buddhi.” (2.49) Thus, all
efforts at mind control primarily involve awakening buddhi, which amounts
to freeing and strengthening the will.
Faith in the
higher Self: Sri Krishna describes in the Gita the various
aspects of human personality in order of increasing subtlety: “The senses
are superior (to the gross body); the mind is superior to the senses;
buddhi is superior to the mind; He (the Atman) is superior to buddhi.
Knowing that the Atman is superior to buddhi, restrain your lower self
with the help of your higher self, and destroy the enemy who comes in the
form of desire and is hard to overcome.” (3.42‑3) Sri Ramanuja explains
that this means controlling the mind with buddhi.
tirelessly emphasized the glory of the Atman and the need to have immense
faith in one’s real nature. In his powerful letter of September 25, 1894
he infused strength into his brother disciples: “What makes you weep, my
friend? In you is all power. Summon up your all‑powerful nature, O mighty
one, and this whole universe will lie at your feet. It is the Self alone
that triumphs, and not matter.” He held that faith in one’s higher self is
a prerequisite for true faith in God.
Faith in God’s
name: Sri Ramakrishna speaks of two kinds of movement in spiritual
life: (1) The more you move toward the east, the more you recede from the
west. In other words, the closer you move toward God, the farther you
recede from desires. (2) If you move one step toward God, God moves ten
steps toward you. As we struggle in spiritual life, we become more and
more aware of divine help in our life.
There was a hatha
yogi in Dakshineswar displaying cleansing techniques of yoga. Sri
Ramakrishna’s disciple Yogin (later Swami Yogananda) felt that he could
not conquer lust or realize God if he did not practice those techniques.
One day Yogin asked Sri Ramakrishna how to be free from lust. Sri
Ramakrishna asked him to repeat the divine name, but Yogin was not
satisfied. He thought Sri Ramakrishna had prescribed something useless
since probably he was not aware of any practical technique. He also knew
that so many people repeated the name of God and still their lust did not
decrease. The next day Yogin went to the hatha yogi and while he sat
listening to him, Sri Ramakrishna came there and asked Yogin to follow him
back to his room. On the way, the Master remarked, “Why did you go there?
Don’t do that. Your mind will stick to the body if you learn those
techniques. It will not thirst after God.” Yogin doubted the Master and
thought he was probably jealous of the hatha yogi. He thought again and
decided to follow the Master’s instruction. He started doing japa with
some concentration, and soon began to experience tangible results.
Meditation & Its Practices