Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Wild Horse Called Desire

" Are you trying to seduce me" Dev asked wickedly.

"Not at all! " I replied " I am only doing a reality check on you….."

" Hmmmmmm?"

" Yes, I said, letting my knee length T-shirt bought on the pavement outside the Sahakari Bhandar at Colaba, Bombay, slip down from over my right shoulder.

" Of course you are. Why else would you expose your shoulder to me!"

" Reality check, Dev, reality check. The whole night we have talked ourselves hoarse on the role of Howard Roark in Fountainhead, vis-à-vis Dominique Francon. You said it is Dominique who attracted Roark to her and I said no, it was their mutual desire for each other that brought them together."

Dev and I talked deep into the night and quite often we heard the tingling sound from the milkman as the milk bottles from Aarey Colony, shook and jingled making their own music, in the early hours of the morning. We would talk anywhere, forgetting that we were in the middle of a crowded street, a busy Irani Restaurant, night owls at the dingy dark chai shops in Fort or even the vada pau wala outside VT Station. Once a subject caught on, we would forget everything around us. Thus, I, on my first job as a Copywriter, was forever late at work. Having twisted and turned every subject, backwards and forwards, twenty times, we would finally turn in only in the wee hours of the night. In the morning, I would jump up and scream, " Late! I am late to work!" and dash out after a quick shower. Whenever, I spent the night with Dev, I always forgot to get my toothbrush with me and used his instead.

" Yak!" he would say. " You are biting into me!"

" You love it, don’t you.’ I would wink.

Admitted! I am not denying that I certainly wanted to bite into his flesh. At least subconsciously. But so did he. Why else did he insist on biting into my vada pau even though he had his own?

Desire . The whole world runs on desire. It is desire that creates the world and it is desire, which finally also takes us to our journey towards a life of no-desire.

There are different schools of thoughts on desire. The first which most of us identify with is the simplest. Desire is good. It is the path to "more". This is where the materialistic world lies. Life must be lived with more and more desire. The more you desire the more you acquire. The more you acquire, the more happiness it brings you. Therefore, desire! Accumulate! Desire more! Invent new things! Live life King Size!

Marketers have made good use of this theory and are raking in the bucks, while we pay to feed fuel to our ever-increasing desires. They are working overtime to educate us on how new things are indeed needed in our lives. We must have them, whether we want them or we don’t. We need them, nevertheless. If we are not the first to get them, then the Shuklas and the Jones will. How can we allow them to be one up on us? Matter of prestige and social face. As a by-product of desire, anything is possible to believe and marketers have been smart. In their astute hands, we have become their ‘cash cow’! But, whoever said that the best lessons of life don’t come for free?

This leads us to the other school of thought. Desire is the root cause behind our misery they say. And how can we say that they are wrong? We have seen that when we desire one thing, we desire it so much that all else is sidelined in order that we can acquire that one object of our desire. But, there seems to be a catch there. Once we have that object of our desire, we seem to lose interest in it over time. The same thing that blinded us at one time, gave us single-minded focus, is now not the focus anymore. Already, the mind is trying to find another object that can feed fuel to our new desire. So as victims of our own devices, we become pawns in the hands of smart marketers. Or we become victims of misery. We cannot find lasting joy in anything, because as soon as we have it, we lose the joy of having it. Or at it’s worst, we become disillusioned because we cannot have what we want.

In the meantime, there is a third category of individuals who are created. In fact, they are the worst hit. They are serious victims of desire because they are addicted to desire itself! Thus, these people only desire, but never get the object of their desire because, it is not the object they want, it is the experience of desire they love. It is like, being in love with the idea of falling in love that is more desirable, than actually experiencing and sharing that love with the other.

Very deep-rooted disease, this. We can at least work towards annihilation of the desire of the other within us, but how to rid ourselves of the love of desire itself?

Different religions show us different ways of handling this malady. I prescribe to the Buddhist school of thought which tells me that desires are caused by the constant layers of impressions that are created in my mind as I interact with the world outside me. These impressions are created by all my six senses – eyes, nose, ears, touch, taste and space. All impulses arising from these sensory perceptions result in impressions that go to make up my memory system around them. Thus, once I taste sugar, I will crave sweetness. And this school says that freedom from desire is the end of misery. We are in a state of Ananda (joy, happiness) already. Only when the thick cloud of desire is removed, we realize that the misery was like a smoke that covered the flame. So while ingrained and intrinsic to desire is also misery, once, the misery passes and we see the flame, we become aware that joy had never really left us. We are in the state of eternal Ananda. That is our swabhava, just as it is the swabhava of water to be cool.It is our Original face.

So was it all a hopeless exercise? Chasing that wild horse called desire? Must we go through this pain knowing that there is misery at the end of it? Why not avoid it, in the first place itself?

We are victims of our minds and our compulsions. To stand up straight, we must fall. Again and again. That is the learning curve.

When we have learnt enough on the same lesson, we will rise and not fall to the same temptations. That requires technique, the methodology to rise against the force of gravity.
For that we require many lives, many Masters.

P.S Straight from the hare’s mouth. Lessons learnt and experienced. And Witnessed later. Thanks to Dev and many others whom I am so grateful to for pushing me to my Self.

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