“Desires that impel us to remain unsatisfied”, The Times of India

This article was published in The Times of India, here.

By Swami Chidanand Saraswati

Many years ago, before the severe violence in Jammu & Kashmir, we travelled to Kashmir to spend a few days meditating on the Dal Lake. All the members of our group enjoyed themselves so much that we delayed our departure date and remained there for one month instead of a few days as was planned earlier. Each week we would postpone our departure from that heavenly, pristine, glorious environment. “Just one more week,” the devotees would cry, so we stayed.

Finally, after one month, we knew we needed to leave. When one of the devotees offered payment to the boatman, he said, “I thank you for the money, but more than the money, I want one special blessing from Swamiji.’’

When the boatman came to see me, he prostrated himself and with tears in his eyes said words I will never forget. He said, “Swamiji, I don’t know what horrible karma I must have performed to be stuck here on this lake my whole life. Please give me your blessings I may go one day and see Bombay.”

I was amazed! We had come from all over India (and many devotees were from Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, and other big cities) and we had fallen in love with the serene, divine atmosphere in Kashmir. The devotees from Mumbai would have given anything to be able to stay forever on the lakeside. When the Valley was peaceful, it was known as the greatest natural paradise on earth.

Yet, this man who was born here, who lives on the most beautiful lake, dreams of nothing but Bombay! Those in Bombay are yearning for a holiday in Kashmir, and those in Kashmir are yearning to go to Bombay.

We truly never feel satisfied. We never feel that we have “enough”. We are always looking for more and more and more. This pertains to almost every area of our lives. Our bank accounts are getting fuller but our lives are getting emptier because we are always striving to close “just one more deal” or to take on “just one more project”, thereby sacrificing the precious time that we could otherwise spend on spiritual pursuits or with our families or engage in services for others.

It is through surrendering to God that we become desire-less. Through being desire-less, we attain peace and joy. We think, mistakenly, that it is by fulfilling our desires that we will attain joy. However, it is the opposite. Fulfilment of desire leads to temporary happiness not because the object of desire was attained, but simply because the desire has now temporarily disappeared!

If I am craving a new car and I get a new car, then my desire for a new car has gone away. It is not the new car itself that gives me the joy, but rather it is the fact that I am now free of the desire for a new car. The diminishment of desire is what brings joy to us. But the way to diminish our desires is not to rush around and try to fulfil them. There are always more. They are like weeds in the garden of our mind. No matter how many we pluck, there will always be more. For a short while we are satisfied, and then the fire of desire begins burning again, even more fiercely.

(Abridged from ‘By God’s Grace’ by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati)

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