What is desire and from where did it originate, and how is it resolved or dissolved?
Desire at its origin is Energy, and it originates within the Self and is also dissolved there. The Self, in this case, is Consciousness itself, devoid of form or expression.
Consciousness is expressed by means of its inherent energy (PRANA), and that energy takes shape in the things seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelled, and thought. In essence, all the five sensory experiences are rooted in the mind, and thus can be considered as forms of thought. Thoughts may or may not be clothed in language. In other words, much of what we experience in our day to day existence is made up in our mind; all of our ordinary experiences are expressions of the mind. “I think therefore I am.” All unenlightened human beings are thinkers of one sort or the other.
The first expression of Consciousness is the desire to create. This is the same thing as saying that the first expression of Consciousness is the manifestation of PRANA (life force), which we experience as both sentient and insentient forms of life. “Forms of life” means Existence, which is all living and non-living things; non-living things include gross matter such as water, air, fire, rocks, etc., and subtle “matter” such as thoughts, feelings, memories, etc.
So, PRANA, or Lifeforce, is the first expression of Consciousness. Prana is the energy of Consciousness. The manifestation of this energy causes the appearance of the distinction between Spirit and Matter, between Purush and Prakriti. In the Sankhya teachings of the Sage Kapila, we learn that the creation of this world of matter begins with the union of Purush and Prakriti, and from that union everything has evolved in an orderly fashion as explained below (for modern readers):
Mahatatva: Cosmic Intelligence
Ego and subtle states of matter (spaciousness, gaseousness, luminosity, liquidity, and solidness)
Mind, including memory
Subtle senses of perception and action
Gross organs of perception and action in the form of the physical body, and all other gross objects of mental perception comprised of physical matter in the form of Space, Air (which includes all substances of a gaseous nature), Fire (which includes all substances of a luminous, and hence thermal nature, such as fire, electricity, etc.), Water (which includes all substances of a liquid nature), and Earth (which includes all objects of a solid nature such as minerals, rocks, bones, etc.).
In essence, Spirit and Matter are never joined because they have never been disjoined. The union of Spirit and Matter, or Purush and Prakriti, is AVIDYA. Here is the inception of Ignorance. Here is the creation of Darkness and the manifestation of Light. Here is where the Cosmic Light Show begins.
The distinction between Purush and Prakriti is first manifested in the form of Cosmic Intelligence (Mahatatva). The Creative Force inherent in that Cosmic Intelligence expresses as “Aham Brahm Asmi”, “I am the Creator.” This principle of self-consciousness is inherent in the Cosmic Intelligence, and is known as Ahamkara, or EGO. Literally it means “I am the doer of actions”.
Through the element of Ego, the self simultaneously experiences the subtle states of matter, known as the five Tanmatras (spaciousness, gaseousness, luminosity, liquidity, and solidness).
The interaction of Ego with the Tanmatras gives rise to the existence of Intellect and Mind. Intellect discerns the existence of Ego and Matter (subtle matter in the form of the Tanmatras), which gives rise to the existence of the mind which in turn records all these subtle experiences (which have been generated by the flow of Lifeforce, or Prana). This subtle activity of the mind results in the manifestation of the subtle senses of perception and action, which together are referred to as the subtle body, or astral body.
All experiences at this level are recorded as impressions (Samskaras) in the mind-stuff (Chit, Memory), and these impressions give rise to tendencies (Vasanas) in that same mind. These tendencies are innumerable and are the basis of all desires as we know them.*
(*In other words, everything to this point has been the product of Desire in the form of the flow Energy, but only at this point, with the manifestation of Vasanas-Tendencies, do we generally begin to view this energy as desire.)
In conjunction with all the other roots of this Tree of Creation (seen with the roots upward, and branches downward), the gross elementary particles and physical body are materialized. The body takes shape (is formed) according to the nature of the mind.
The nature of the mind is formed by (1) the impressions (Samskaras), (2) the tendencies (Vasanas), (3) the subsequent thoughts and attitudes (Vrittis) which arise from those tendencies, and (4) the actions (Karmas) embraced by our five (subtle) senses and our subtle, or intentional, organs of action.
Depending on the type of body formed by the mind, the living organism will have the potential to act; which really means we have the ability to fulfill our desires according to the life form (i.e., body) in which we reside. When embodied in the form of dog or cat (or other animal species), our experiences and our potential to experience are limited. Embodied as human beings we have the potential to have the highest (i.e., most fulfilling) experience of our existence.
When we are embodied as human beings, we bring with us the experiences of many, many—countless lives in millions and millions of different species of existence. (According to Hindu Shastras, we take birth in 8,400,000 different species before we are born as a human being.) Hence, we have innumerable impressions (Samskaras) and associated tendencies (Vasanas—which give rise to, or can be understood as, DESIRES).
As human beings, our impressions (or for the sake of simplicity, we can say memories) and desires DO NOT decide our fate or destiny. Our life is what we make it, according to our attitude and action.
The Cycle of Karma (Action) is this:
Impression –> Tendency –>Thought/Attitude –> Action –> Impression
We can change our life by changing our thoughts/attitudes and actions. Desires will always arise. It is up to us whether we REACT or RESPOND. Animals can only react because they are creatures of habit; but human beings equipped with superior intelligence and power of discernment can consciously respond and make choices based on wisdom, and not just on habit or limited past experience.
Desires CANNOT be resolved by means of an intellectual or empirical process, because intellectual gymnastics is just another ploy of ego. The mind enslaved by ego will continue to revolve around in circles of self-deception, self-delusion, and self-destruction.
We can continue to solve and resolve the same problem over and over, but unless we let go of our ego the problem is not going to go away: because EGO IS THE PROBLEM.
We are a slave of our desires only because we are a slave of EGO. When our ego is dissolved, so is our desire. Hence, the only way to dissolve desire is to dissolve our ego.
The dissolution of ego is the essence of spirituality (Sadhana). In other words, spirituality lies in spiritual practice, and spiritual practice means we must practice being the spirit self, not the ego self. Remember: the Spirit Self (PURUSH) is the original self. To dissolve all desires all we need to do is be our Self. We need to be true to our Real Self.
Being true to your Real Self doesn’t mean having no desires. We are human beings, and desires are a natural element of our existence. The question is this: which desires are healthy and conducive to our well-being, and which are detrimental to our well-being?
The innumerable choices we make will weave a tapestry of colors and designs in the fabric of our mind. Wearing this wonderful costume we will move about in this world and dance with the sun, moon, and the stars. The changes that unfold will be beautiful and awe-inspiring, and the sound vibrations produced by those movements will be melodious and enchanting. In our mind’s eye we will experience the vision of Eternity, our Heart will expand into Infinity and our whole being will vibrate with the Love and Wisdom of the Supreme Being. OM