This article is from the book What The River Has Taught Me.
Man is moved by desire. Life is maintained by hope of getting one’s desires fulfilled.
Instinctive desires, impulsive desires, rational desires, irrational desires, worldly desires, spiritual desires–they chase man all through life. Even the old man who is approaching death has a myriad desires in his mind. As Sivananda says, “The capacity may vanish, but the craving remains”.
“Be desireless” says the preacher, but he himself is quite often after more money, a larger audience, a greater reputation.
The universality of desire does not sanctify it, but only shows how nearly impossible it is to give up desires. That is why the spiritual seeker is exhorted, first of all, to substitute bad desires by good desires, and later, to replace all desires by an all-consuming desire for God.
How to get one’s good desires, righteous desires, legitimate desires fulfilled? What is the secret of success in achieving one’s ambitions, in realising one’s aspirations, in finding fulfilment of one’s fond hopes? The man of the world is concerned with an answer to this vital question.
If you desire something, you must work for it. There must be exertion or Purushartha. Everyone understands the matter thus far. But what puzzles people quite often is how, after repeated exertion, they fail to achieve the desired result.
“Destiny!” says the spiritual preacher, “You are not destined to get it”. Then he goes on to explain the Law of Karma and its ramifications to the disappointed man in an attempt to console him. But what poor consolation for the disappointed man!
Is there no foolproof method of getting one’s cherished desires fulfilled? There is. It is the method of the Mantras. There are as many Mantras as there are desires. Recite the appropriate Mantra with faith and devotion and get what you want. I suggested the Sarasvati Mantra to a person who was almost illiterate. Today that person possesses more wisdom than the most educated. I placed the Lakshmi Mantra before an unemployed man. He landed a job within six months. I recommended the Katyayani Mantra to an unmarried woman of forty years whose only fault was a Dosha or defect in the planetary combinations in her horoscope. That lady got happily married a couple of years after her beginning to recite the Mantra. But I must confess that in the case of all three, their faith in the potency of Mantra Japa excelled my own. And now their success has increased my own faith in Mantras and their power.
If you do not like the method of the Mantras, take to the method of whole-hearted prayer. When I say whole-hearted prayer, I mean that it should come from the innermost recesses of your heart, and not from your lips alone. The yearning must be intense, almost desperate. And you must feel the reality of God’s all-pervading presence, feel that He is listening to you, feel that He has the power to answer your prayer and the compassion to do so. Then your prayer will be answered. All this is made much easier if you can go to a realised saint (who, incidentally, is no different from God) or to the presence of a powerful Deity or Pratyaksha Devata and address your prayer to the saint or the Devata. In such a case, what happens is this: your prayer, your desire, is taken up or absorbed by the intense spiritual aura or vibrations of the saint or the Deity, and in the process, becomes the desire of the saint himself or the Deity Itself. No wonder, then, that it fructifies soon enough and easily enough.
A third method of getting your desires fulfilled is to expand in your consciousness and identify yourself with an ever-expanding spectrum of men and matter. The more you expand in this way, the sooner your desire will come to fruition. In other words, the extent of your identification with the cosmos or the extent of your nearness to God will determine the speed with which your desires get fulfilled. The closer you are to God, the faster will be the achievement of your ambitions. This method is not as difficult to practise as it might appear. Once you have a good grasp of the basic spiritual laws, a sound understanding of man and his relationship to God and the universe, all that is required is to feel your identity with the rest of creation in an ever-greater measure.
The fourth and the last method is the really difficult one, because in this you have to give up your desires to gain the desired objects. Paradoxical, but true. The spiritual law that governs the operation of this paradox is more accurate than all the laws of mathematics, physics and the rest of the natural sciences. This infallible law states: “Desire a thing and it recedes from your grasp. Give up a thing and it comes to you unsought”. But the giving up should be total and spontaneous. If you say with your mouth, “I give up my desire for wealth”, but cherish the desire in your heart, wealth will not accrue to you. But if you really do not care one little bit for wealth, for whatever reason, then money will flow to you from all sides. It is the same with all other objects of desire. That is why a good doctor always advises his patient, “Don’t bother too much about your health”. Because, not bothering about one’s health is the surest way to preserve one’s health.
When you are truly fed up with the objects of desire, they will crowd around you. But, at that point, even if they crowd around you, you have no use for them. You need them no more. Desire, object of desire, satisfaction of desire–these words and phrases have lost all meaning for you. It is the highest stage of the renunciate monk.