“As a person acts, so she becomes in life. Those who do good become good; those who do harm become bad. Good deeds make one pure; bad deeds make one impure. You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Chapter 4, Section 4, Verse 5
Desire is an organic part of life. We've all come to this world with some measure of it, whether it is the desire for sensuality, learning, influence, or prestige. It's counterproductive to try to negate our desires, since the more we negate them, the stronger they become. A more effective approach is to work to honor them on the regular. No one becomes pure instantly. No one has become impure instantly! Purity requires discernment, vigilance, purpose, effort, and deep-seated compassion for all. We must be kind to ourselves and keep in mind that any transformation takes time to cultivate and requires patience and persistence.
Often our desires are not even our own; they have been tainted by society, buried in our unconscious as a result of the films we watch, the music we listen to, the books we digest, and the conversations we have. A practical approach to working with desire is to start by simplifying. Consider the quote – “It is better to want what you have than to have what you want.” Simplifying your desire means reminding yourself to want the real life experience that's right in front of you, maybe to take on less (hard, I know). Or at least to become more selective about our ventures and who we share our time with. It is necessary to attend more to what is important, of lasting value, and to honor the basic principles of our life to which we subscribe most deeply in our hearts.
When we have simplified our desires only then can we strive to purify them – first in our actions and then at more subtle levels through positively shaped thoughts. We should try our best to ensure that our desires do not cause harm or disrespect, first to ourselves, then to our loved ones, and all living beings. When our desires have been made pure, we can then aspire to unify them, through the practice of meditation – to take the various streams of desire and integrate them in our consciousness into one all-encompassing “deep, driving desire” so that we can move towards realizing the greatest truths of our existence.
Mastering our will is not about eliminating desire. It is about unifying our desires. Then all of our deeds, words, and thoughts will flow spontaneously and directly from the source. A simple recipe for channeling your desires: Simplify them. Purify them. Unify them. And bask in the joyfulness of the experience =)