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Tuesday, August 6, 2019


Understanding what desire means.

What is desire? Does desire bring about clarity? In its field does compassion flower? If it does not bring clarity and if desire is not the field in which the beauty and the greatness of compassion flower, then what place has desire? How does desire arise? One sees a beautiful woman, or a beautiful man—one sees. There is the perception, the seeing, then the contact, then the sensation, then that sensation is taken over by thought, which becomes the image with its desire. You see a beautiful vase, a beautiful sculpture—ancient Egyptian, or Greek—and you look at it and you touch it; you see the depth of sculpture of the figure sitting cross-legged. From that there is a sensation. What a marvellous thing and from that sensation desire; “I wish I had that in my room; to look at it every day, touch it every day”—the pride of possession, to have such a marvellous thing as that

.That is desire: seeing, contact, sensation, then thought using that sensation to cultivate the desire to possess—or not to possess.

Now comes the difficulty: realizing this the religious people have said: “Take vows of celibacy; do not look at a woman; if you do look treat her as your sister, mother, whatever you like; because you are in the service of God you need all your energy to serve Him; in the service of God you are going to have great tribulations, therefore be prepared, but do not waste your energy.” But the thing is boiling and we are trying to understand that desire which is constantly boiling, wanting to fulfill, wanting to complete itself.

Desire arises from the movement: seeing–contact–sensation–thought with its image–desire. Now we are saying: seeing–touching–sensation, that is normal, healthy—end it there, do not let thought take it over and make it into a desire. Understand this and then you will also understand that there will be no suppression of desire. You see a beautiful house, well proportioned with lovely windows, a roof that melts into the sky, walls that are thick and part of the earth, a beautiful garden, well kept. You look at it, there is sensation; you touch it—you may not actually touch it but you touch it with your eyes—you smell the air, the herbs, the newly-cut grass. Can you not end it there? End it there, say: “It is a beautiful house”; but there is no registration and no thought which says: “I wish I had that house”—which is desire and the continuation of desire. You can do this so easily; and I mean easily, if you understand the nature of thought and desire.

To understand desire is to be choicelessly aware of its movements.

Desire is energy, and it has to be understood; it cannot merely be suppressed, or made to conform. Any effort to coerce or discipline desire makes for conflict, which brings with it insensitivity. All the intricate ways of desire must be known and understood. You cannot be taught and you cannot learn the ways of desire. To understand desire is to be choicelessly aware of its movements. If you destroy desire, you destroy sensitivity, as well as the intensity that is essential for the understanding of truth.

What is the source of desire?

When we say we love another, in that love there is desire, the pleasurable projections of the various activities of thought. One has to find out whether love is desire, whether love is pleasure, whether in love there is fear; for where there is fear there must be hatred, jealousy, anxiety, possessiveness, domination. There is beauty in relationship and the whole cosmos is a movement in relationship. Cosmos is order and when one has order in oneself one has order in one’s relationships and therefore the possibility of order in our society. If one enquires into the nature of relationship one finds it is absolutely necessary to have order, and out of that order comes love.

What is beauty? You see the fresh snow on the mountains this morning, clean, a lovely sight. You see those solitary trees standing black against that white. Looking at the world about us you see the marvellous machinery, the extraordinary computer with its special beauty; you see the beauty of a face, the beauty of a painting, beauty of a poem—you seem to recognize beauty out there. In the museums or when you go to a concert and listen to Beethoven, or Mozart, there is great beauty—but always out there. In the hills, in the valleys with their running waters, and the flight of birds and the singing of a blackbird in the early morning, there is beauty. But is beauty only out there? Or is beauty something that only exists when the ‘me’ is not? When you look at those mountains on a sunny morning, sparkling clear against the blue sky, their very majesty drives away all the accumulated memories of yourself—for a moment. There the outward beauty, the outward magnificence, the majesty and the strength of the mountains, wipes away all your problems—if only for a second. You have forgotten yourself. When there is total absence of yourself beauty is. But we are not free of ourselves; we are selfish people, concerned with ourselves, with our importance or with our problems, with our agonies, sorrows, and loneliness. Out of desperate loneliness we want identification with something or other and we cling to an idea, to a belief, to a person, especially to a person. In dependency all our problems arise. Where there is psychological dependency, fear begins. When you are tied to something corruption begins.

Desire is the most urgent and vital drive in our life. We are talking about desire itself, not desire for a particular thing. All religions have said that if you want to serve God you must subjugate desire, destroy desire, control desire. All the religions have said: substitute for desire an image that thought has created— the image that the Christians have, that the Hindus have and so on. Substitute an image for the actual. The actual is desire—the burning of it and they think that one can overcome that desire by substituting something else for it. Or, surrender yourself to that which you think is the master, the saviour, the guru—which again is the activity of thought. This has been the pattern of all religious thinking. One has to understand the whole movement of desire; for obviously it is not love, nor yet compassion. Without love and compassion, meditation is utterly meaningless. Love and compassion have their own intelligence which is not the intelligence of cunning thought.

So it is important to understand the nature of desire, why it has played such an extraordinarily important part in our life; how it distorts clarity, how it prevents the extraordinary quality of love. It is important that we understand and do not suppress, do not try to control it or direct it in a particular direction, which you think may give you peace.

Please bear in mind that am not trying to impress you or something else,  but together we are walking a very subtle, complex path. We have to listen to each other to find out the truth about desire. When one understands the significance, the meaning, the fullness, the truth of desire, then desire has quite a different value or drive in one’s life.

When one observes desire, is one observing it as an outsider looking at desire? Or is one observing desire as it arises? Not desire as something separate from oneself, one is desire. You see the difference? Either one observes desire, which one has when one sees something in the shop window which pleases one, and one has the desire to buy it so that the object is different from ‘me’, or else the desire is ‘me’, so there is a perception of desire without the observer watching desire.

One can look at a tree. Tree is the word by which one recognizes that which is standing in the field. But one knows that the word tree is not the tree. Similarly one’s wife is not the word. But one has made the word one’s wife. I do not know if you see all the subtleties of this.

One must very clearly understand, from the beginning, that the word is not the thing. The word desire is not the feeling of it—the extraordinary feeling there is behind that reaction. So one must be very watchful that one is not caught in the word. Also the brain must be active enough to see that the object may create desire—desire which is separate from the object. Is one aware that the word is not the thing and that desire is not separate from the observer who is watching desire? Is one aware that the object may create desire but the desire is independent of the object?

How does desire flow?  Why is there such extraordinary energy behind it? If we do not understand deeply the nature of desire we will always be in conflict with each other. One may desire one thing and one’s wife may desire another and the children may desire something different. So we are always at loggerheads with each other. And this battle, this struggle, is called love, relationship.

We are asking: What is the source of desire? We must be very truthful in this, very honest, for desire is very very deceptive, very subtle, unless we understand the root of it. For all of us sensory responses are important—sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing. And a particular sensory response may for some of us be more important than the other responses. If we are artistic we see things in a special way. If we are trained as an engineer then the sensory responses are different. So we never observe totally, with all the sensory responses. We each respond somewhat specially, divided. Is it possible to respond totally with all one’s senses? See the importance of that. If one responds totally with all one’s senses there is the elimination of the centralized observer. But when one responds to a particular thing in a special way then the division begins. Find out when you leave this tent, when you look at the flowing waters of the river, the light sparkling on the swiftness of the waters, find out if you can look at it with all

your senses. Do not ask me how, for that becomes mechanical. But educate yourself in the understanding of total sensory response.

When you see something, the seeing brings about a response. You see a green shirt, or a green dress, the seeing awakens the response. Then contact takes place. Then from contact thought creates the image of you in that shirt or dress, then the desire arises. Or you see a car in the road, it has nice lines, it is highly polished and there is plenty of power behind it.

Then you go around it, examine the engine. Then thought creates the image of you getting into the car and starting the engine, putting your foot down and driving it. So does desire begin and the source of desire is thought creating the image, up to that point there is no desire.

 There are the sensory responses, which are normal, but then thought creates the image and from that moment desire begins. Now, is it possible for thought not to arise and create the image? This is learning about desire, which in itself is discipline. Learning about desire is discipline, not the controlling of it. If you really learn about something it is finished.

But if you say you must control desire, then you are in a totally different field altogether. When you see the whole of this movement you will find that thought with its image will not interfere; you will only see, have the sensation. And what is wrong with that?

It is not that you have no desire, but simply that the mind is capable of looking without describing.

Now, let us first see what happens to a mind that is always controlling itself, suppressing, sublimating desire. Such a mind, being occupied with itself, becomes insensitive. Though it may talk about sensitivity, goodness, though it may say that we must be brotherly, we must produce a marvellous world, and all the rest of the nonsense that people talk who suppress desire—such a mind is insensitive because it does not understand that which it has suppressed. Whether you suppress or yield to desire, it is essentially the same because the desire is still there. You may suppress the desire for a woman, for a car, for position; but the very urge not to have these things, which makes you suppress the desire for them, is itself a form of desire. So, being caught in desire, you have to understand it, and not say it is right or wrong.

Now, what is desire? When I see a tree swaying in the wind, it is a lovely thing to watch, and what is wrong with that? What is wrong in watching the beautiful motion of a bird on the wing? What is wrong in looking at a new car, marvelously built and highly polished? And what is wrong in seeing a nice person with a symmetrical face, a face that shows good sense, intelligence, quality?

But desire does not stop there. Your perception is not just perception, but with it comes sensation. With the arising of sensation you want to touch, to contact, and then comes the urge to possess. You say, “This is beautiful, I must have it,” and so begins the turmoil of desire.

Now, is it possible to see, to observe, to be aware of the beautiful and the ugly things of life, and not say, “I must have,” or “I must not have”? Have you ever just observed anything? Do you understand, sirs? Have you ever observed your wife, your children, your friends, just looked at them? Have you ever looked at a flower without calling it a rose, without wanting to put it in your buttonhole, or take it home and give it to somebody? If you are capable of so observing, without all the values attributed by the mind, then you will find that desire is not such a monstrous thing. You can look at a car, see the beauty of it, and not be caught in the turmoil or contradiction of desire. But that requires an immense intensity of observation, not just a casual glance. It is not that you have no desire, but simply that the mind is capable of looking without describing. It can look at the moon and not immediately say, “That is the moon, how beautiful it is,” so there is no chattering of the mind coming in between. If you can do this, you will find that in the intensity of observation, of feeling, of real affection, love has its own action, which is not the contradictory action of desire.

Experiment with this and you will see how difficult it is for the mind to observe without chattering about what it observes. But surely, love is of that nature, is it not? How can you love if your mind is never silent, if you are always thinking about yourself? To love a person with your whole being, with your mind, heart, and body, requires great intensity; and when love is intense, desire soon disappears. But most of us have never had this intensity about anything, except about our own profit, conscious or unconscious; we never feel for

anything without seeking something else out of it. But only the mind that has this intense energy is capable of following the swift movement of truth. Truth is not static, it is swifter than thought, and the mind cannot possibly conceive of it. To understand truth, there must be this immense energy which cannot be conserved or cultivated. This energy does not come through self-denial, through suppression. On the contrary, it demands complete abandonment, and you cannot abandon yourself, or abandon everything that you have, if you merely want a result.

It is possible to live without envy in this world which is based on envy, on acquisitiveness and the pursuit of power, position; but that requires an extraordinary intensity, a clarity of thought, of understanding. You cannot be free of envy without understanding yourself, so the beginning is here, not somewhere else. Unless you begin with yourself, do what you will, you will never find the end of sorrow.

You cannot become alive to desire if you condemn it or compare it.

So, the understanding of desire is necessary. You have “to understand desire,” not “to be without desire.” If you kill desire, you are paralyzed. When you look at that sunset in front of you, the very looking is a delight, if you are at all sensitive. That is also desire—the delight. And if you cannot see that sunset and delight in it, you are not sensitive. If you cannot see a rich man in a big car and delight in that—not because you want it but you are just delighted to see a man in a big car—or if you cannot see a poor, unwashed, dirty, uneducated human being in despair and feel enormous pity, affection, love, you are not sensitive. How can you then find reality if you have not this sensitivity and feeling?

So you have to understand desire. And to understand every prompting of desire, you must have space, and not try to fill the space by your own thoughts or memories, or how to achieve, or how to destroy that desire. Then out of that understanding comes love. Most of us do not have love, we do not know what it means. We know pleasure, we know pain. We know the inconsistency of pleasure and, probably, the continuous pain. And we know the pleasure of sex and the pleasure of achieving fame, position, prestige, and the pleasure of having tremendous control over one’s own body as the ascetics do, keeping a record— we know all these. We are everlastingly talking about love, but we do not know what it means, because we have not understood desire, which is the beginning of love.

Without love there is no morality—there is conformity to a pattern, a social or a so-called religious pattern. Without love there is no virtue. Love is something spontaneous, real, alive. And virtue is not a thing that you beget by constant practice; it is something spontaneous, akin to love. Virtue is not a memory according to which you function as a virtuous human being. If you have no love, you are not virtuous. You may go to the temple, you may lead a most respectable family life, you may have the social moralities, but you are not virtuous because your heart is barren, empty, dull, stupid, because you have not understood desire. Therefore life becomes an endless battleground, and effort ends always in death. Effort always ends in death, because that is all you know.

So, a man who would understand desire has to understand, has to listen, to every prompting of the mind and the heart, to every mood, to every change of thought and feeling, has to watch it; he has to become sensitive, become alive to it. You cannot become alive to desire if you condemn it or compare it. You must care for desire, because it will give you an enormous understanding. And out of that understanding there is sensitivity. You are then sensitive not only physically to beauty—to the dirt, to the stars, to a smiling face or to tears—but also to all the mutterings, the whispers that are in your minds, the secret hopes and fears.

And out of this listening, watching, comes passion, this passion which is akin to love. And it is only this state that can cooperate. And also it is only this state that can, because it can cooperate, know also when not to cooperate. Therefore, out of this depth of understanding, watching, the mind becomes efficient, clear, full of vitality, vigor; and it is only such a mind that can journey very far.

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