Friday, September 4, 2015

The main cause of suffering is desire / Part II - The game of desire

The main cause of suffering is desire / Part II
by Atman Nityananda  

The Second Noble Truth
The principal cause of suffering (dukkha), the Buddha said, is due to deep-rooted desires or craving (tanha)) within us. These desires can take many forms; desire for sensual enjoyment, desire for material gain and achievement, desire for continuation, and even desire for self-destruction.  -- Buddha
The game of desire

Desire first creates in us the illusion that we cannot here and now  be happy and content (which is a lie) and at the same time, creates in us emotions of unease, discontent, anxiety, incompleteness and boredom aiming to force our mind to imagine and think of something that could give us pleasure, pleasant sensations and joy (which is half-lie). Thus desire through the mind thinks and imagines various objects and situations, and projects on them pleasant sensations, pleasure and joy.

With this psychological play, desire makes us believe that we cannot be here and now happy and content and that we could be happy and content in the future, in another place and other circumstances when we could have the desired object. Thus due the desire mechanism we almost never find ourselves at peace, complete and content in the now (except the moments we enjoy a desired object) and we imagine that in the future in an imagined situation we can find ourselves finally complete, content and real happy.
But due the hypnotic power of desire, and the rajas and tamas gunas we do not realize that we are trapped in this illusory desire-made game and that will never find ourselves complete, free, peaceful, content and real happy.
Desire as an automatic mechanism does not want nothing else but pleasure and pleasant sensations; wants also money to fulfil all these pleasurable experiences.
Two more things that desire wants are recognition and power. These two also can help desire meet the pleasurable experiences but recognition and power are by themselves pleasurable to our ego.

    Until we get the desired object there is anxiety, agony, impatience and fear thinking that something could prevent us from enjoying the desired object. And if something or someone prevents or delays the fulfilment of desire arises irritability and anger; in reality desire itself modifies as irritability and anger.
    When we are in touch with the desired object and enjoy it, the feelings of discomfort sink temporarily and arise pleasant sensations, pleasure and joy that we associate with the desired object. But this is an illusion.
    What in reality happens is that the pleasant sensations are caused by the interaction of the senses and mind with the object (the same object it is not pleasant to us at different conditions) and the pleasure and joy we experience are projected by the ego to the object or the situation and they have nothing to do with the object itself.

  Pleasure and happiness doesn't belong to objects


The pleasure has nothing to do with the object (except with making love that is a little more complicated to explain). The desire projects onto the object the pleasure that is crystallized in our subconscious mind and energy field and makes us believe that the pleasure comes from the object. So when we eat pizza for example we believe that the pleasure we experience is due to the pizza but this is not the case. We experience only an illusory pleasure projected on the pizza. This projection of pleasure on the objects is more obvious in the dream state when we experience the imaginary pleasure while the mind by the power of imagination creates the desired objects from the stuff of memory.


The joy also we experience while we experience the desired object has nothing to do with the object. The moments we enjoy an object the mind becomes calm and very focused on the here and now because there is no anymore distance between the mind and the object; the mind now enjoys the object that wanted so much. When the mind is calm and focused reflects partially the joy of our true Self or Soul. Remember that the only condition to enjoy the joy of Being is a concentrated and calm mind. Then joy and contentment we feel when we enjoy a desired object, it comes from within, from the consciousness and not from the object. But since the mind is hypnotized by the Rajas and Tamas qualities and desire, we cannot be aware of what actually happens during these moments. And so, we associate joy, happiness and contentment with the desired object.

    After these trifling moments of pleasure, a few days, hours or minutes (which happen more often) later the desire creates again the same sensations of discomfort because the desire by its nature is insatiable. Thus we find ourselves again in a negative state trying to overcome it by seeking again a new pleasant experience.

    The vicious circle of pleasure and pain

 1. First the desire creates in us an unpleasant emotional state with emotions of boredom, dissatisfaction, uneasiness, discontent, incompleteness, etc. (All these is a kind of suffering)

    2. In order to overcome the above mentioned unpleasant unemotional state the desire creates in the mind imaginations and thoughts (about objects, people, activities) and projects on them pleasant sensations, pleasure and happiness in order to convince us to obtain or achieve something pleasurable or pleasant (object, person, situation).

    3. The desire compels the mind to think the way by which we can get the desired object, ie. the means and actions we must take. At this stage the desire (depending on the circumstances) takes the form of impatience, anxiety, fear, irritability and anger because we are not sure if we can fulfil the desire or because of something that could impede its fulfilment.

    4. When the desire is fulfilled we experience pleasant sensations and pleasure and at the same time the mechanism of desire subsides temporarily; for a while the mind free from desire's teeth becomes calm and rests at its source that is Consciousness (but we are not aware of it because the mind is not awake) and thus we enjoy partially the joy of Being. The happiness we experience has nothing to do with the desired object it is projected on it in a similar way that pleasure is projected on the object. The objects have neither pleasure nor happiness, the ego projects them on external objects and situations.

    5. A little later the desire recreates again the unpleasant emotional state ( which is suffering) by assuming the form of uneasiness,, discontent, etc. in order to force us seek again some pleasant and pleasurable experience.

The peak of suffering

In this repetitive function of the desire  mechanism we experience more suffering when we do not get what we desire, when we lose the desired object, when something impedes us to get what we desire, and when something causes to lose our desired object.

This suffering has the form of anger, fear, agony, anxiety, impatience, disappointment, depression, greed, attachment, jealously, hatred etc. 
In reality all these negative psychological disorders are modifications of desire itself. The energy of desire modifies as anger, fear, greed, depression, etc. as well as desire modifies as pleasure. 
Thus is impossible to avoid suffering as long as we desire pleasure and the energy of desire continues in us. These negative emotional and mental states which create innumerable suffering, disharmony, disequilibrium and diseases will continue as long as the desire mechanism will continue to function in us.


This vicious circle created by desire is the cause of suffering as well as the cause of Samsara which is the wheel of birth and death. We reincarnate in this 3D world to experience the desires that still live in our subconscious. We fulfil some desires but new desires are born and thus we reincarnate to fulfil the new desires. This is the wheel of Samsara. Samsara ends for us when we will eliminate all desires and ego and realize that we are eternal being and awareness beyond birth and death, time, space, form and causality.

    How we pass our everyday life

Because of the desire mechanism we experience sometimes pleasure and various pleasant sensations and occasionally a little joy, and the rest of our life we live in a state of incompleteness, inner conflicts, dissatisfaction, discontent, discomfort, misery and suffering.

    We live almost always identified with the sensual mind, thinking about the past and the future; and when we enjoy something in the here and now we have not a new experience but we live the past projected on this new experience.

 Rarely we are not in a projection mode; this happens mainly when we are engaged in bodily or mental activities and we are very well concentrated (this happens when is needed much attention to what we are doing or when it is very interested to us what we are doing). If the concentration prolongs and deepens enough we start to experience a higher state in which the silence, the peace and an alive presence become more and more evident.

Experiencing our essence

The moments that we experience the now fully are very rare and usually we find ourselves in a state of admiration, wonder, aliveness, a kind of ecstasy. The mind in these moments takes its natural state reflecting without distortion both the external reality and our true Self. It is an experience of unity or oneness in which there is no time, no past, no future, no ego, no memories, non fantasies; pure being experiencing itself both as an inner experience of fullness and as an apparent external reality. There is also a sense of effortless flowing, that everything happens perfectly without any conscious effort; that everything just happens by itself and there is an enjoyment which bypasses all understanding and any familiar experience based on memory, senses and sensory mind. Athletes and especially those who perform sports which require almost a perfect degree of concentration such as tennis, formula, golf, gymnastics and extreme sports have mentioned very often experiences like those that yogis and mystics have mentioned and in the sport terminology this is called ´´peak experience´´.

What is a peak experience?
Abraham  Maslow, the term's inventor, says that "peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, possibly the awareness of an "ultimate truth" and the unity of all things ... the experience fills the individual with wonder and awe....he feels at one with the world, and is pleased with it ...." They are moments when you feel more at one with yourself and the world, more integrated. You feel happy, even ecstatic, interconnected and in harmony. Peak experiences are one type of mystical experiences and perhaps one of the most interesting in that Maslow aims to talk about mystical experiences in non-supernatural terms.

Personally I had a peak experience when I was practicing tennis against a wall. But I did not managed to have this experience voluntary; just happened by itself due to deep consntration. This experience was the cause to begin the spiritual path systematically. After many years of practice I now know from my own experience that the only way to experience the peace and bliss of our true nature without effort  and without limits is to free our mind from ego and desire.

 In moments of great danger we can also get out of the conditioned mind and experience a higher state of consciousness.

The majority of people very rarely can have an intimate experience of their Soul and experience unlimited joy, peace and freedom.

The Second Noble Truth
Suffering can be eliminated through Nirodha. The meaning of Nirodha is elimination of sensual craving (desires for pleasures) and worldly attachment.stical experiences in non-supernatural terms. -- Buddha


 The companions of desire

   The main partners of desire are fear, anger and depression.
    If we already posses the desired object and it is important for us the desire is associated with the fear of losing. Fear arises also  when we want something too much and we're not sure if we can get or achieve it. In this case the fear normally assumes the aspect of insecurity, anxiety or distress and concerns, and these emotions appear in the thinking mind as doubts and imagined things that could obstruct the fulfilment of desire. It is also very common fear to be accompanied with anger which can take the form of irritability or resentment while we think that something could obstruct the fulfilment of the desire.
    Anger arises when something or someone prevents us fulfill the desire or when we lose the desired object.
    Depression arises when we do not get what we want or when we lose it. It is the emotion we experience when finally the desired object is lost and we have no chance to experience it any more.

Egoic tendencies are only modifications of desire

Desire assumes a wide range of forms or expressions such as like-dislike, attraction-repulsion or aversion, all the negative emotions, the pain-body as call it nicely Eckhart Tolle, greed, jealousy, disappointment, etc.
All egoistic or negative tendencies and emotions are in reality modifications of desire itself. That is to say that the desire energy like a chameleon modifies constantly according the circumstances and assumes all other egoic forms. The ego, the desire and all egoic tendencies are one and the same energy assuming innumerable forms. If we compare the ego with a tree, the trunk of the tree would be the ego and desire and the branches all the innumerable egoic tendencies.

Desire, harmful and illegal actions and diseases

    To fulfil the desires we often misuse and overuse the senses, body and energy and thus we create imbalances in our body and mind and diseases. Blind from the hypnotic power of desire we can do also illegal actions or actions that harm our fellows, animals, nature and create imbalances in the world. All the chaos and suffering we see in the world today is the creation of the innumerable desires of earthlings. They live in a stressful mental and emotional state and like machines the try endlessly to avoid the discomfort emotions created by desire by experiencing pleasant and pleasurable sensations based on sensory inputs and impressions.

Inner transformation and desire

This mechanism of desire is very powerful and thus is not possible to dissolve it at once. Thus in the beginning of our inner transformation we can use this automatic mechanism of desire consciously for our benefit. We should first direct the power of desire on noble goals and actions.
We can also replace the harmful objects of desire with beneficial ones. For example we can replace our desire for drinks with alcohol for natural drinks.
But most important is to direct desire from mundane objects or achievements to spiritual goals and mainly to realization of truth. Of course finally we have to dissolve completely the desire-energy from our psych in order to live the freedom, the peace and Bliss eternal.
In order to march decisively and achieve its dissolution we must be properly prepared. That's why it is necessary to develop various mental and emotional capacities and qualities which will give us the strength and the capacity to do it effectively. The total dissolution of ego end desire happens in deep Nirvikalpa Samadhi which is the culmination of the spiritual journey.

May all be free from the grip of desire and realize their true Self which nature is peace, freedom and eternal bliss.

Peace, light and love