Hidden Desires

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

In Samkhya and Vedanta, much has been spoken about the problem of desires. In order to express hidden desires, one has to become aware of the grief and pain of other people. Lord Buddha said, "Birth is painful, life is painful and death is painful." Everybody is suffering. Even the rich are suffering. A scholar or a beautiful woman, an emperor or a commander, all are suffering. Once this pain is acknowledged, the hidden desires come up. Desires hide themselves due to suppression and because one does not realize the real nature of the world.

Vasanas are hidden desires, and in the human mind, there are various levels of desires. Hunger is one desire and similarly, there are other desires such as sleep, to have more money and property, to have a husband or wife, children, friends, to have love and affection. These are all desires.

There are desires that are on the upper mental plane, the ordinary and simple desires we are aware of. However, at the base there are hidden desires which sometimes project themselves directly, or more frequently, indirectly. When suppressed the hidden desires do not dare to come up. Suppression of desires strengthens the hidden desires. They project themselves in dreams, in visions or during pratyahara, and they keep manifesting at different stages of meditation. Even just before the point of illumination, these hidden desires keep on projecting or exhausting themselves. Therefore, try to express your desires or channel them.

Desires must not be curbed. You should either fulfil them completely or else realize their uselessness.

God, and God alone

In Islam, Christianity and in Indian religions, there is a very important, common note: Live for God. Do not live for man, the king or enjoyment. Live for Him, think for Him, work for Him, and love for Him.

When love for God becomes eminent, when one pines for His companionship, the hidden desires are expressed. As much as a young boy has love for a young girl or a greedy person has for his money, in the same way one should have love for God. Either one develops an attitude that God is father, mother, friend, son or daughter, husband or wife. If one develops one of these attitudes according to their ability, the hidden desires will be expressed.

Vasana is the negative side and supreme love is the positive side. The composition of both types of love is the same, only the presentation is different. All hidden desires are consumed in absolute bhakti. In the three religions, there is a peculiar concept of bhakti. In one type of bhakti, there is lukewarm bhakti. One goes to the temple, the church or the mosque; one bows the head and does the required rituals. The second type of bhakti is mad bhakti, where one is completely immersed in it and one doesn't see anyone else but God. It is madness and in history a few people have become mad like this. They are known as God-intoxicated people whose stories are known to us. Studying their life history, it seems they were completely immersed in the thought of God, and nothing else mattered or existed.

Kissing the shadow

This bhakti is known as parabhakti, supreme love or divine love. In the Sufi philosophy, it is called ishta hakiki, loving the real person. When you love the objects of the world, you love the shadow. Why do you love the shadow? There is no use kissing the shadow. You should embrace the right person. When you love the real person, you love the shadow as well. That is why it is said say, "If you love God, you love his creation." If you lose yourself in God, you lose yourself in his creation, for the whole creation is God's shadow and his manifestation.

There is a Sufi story. A young girl was going to see her boyfriend. It was the evening, and she was constantly thinking about him. Along the way, there was a devout Muslim who had spread his mat and was practising namaz, the Muslim prayer and combined with asana. This girl was so immersed in thoughts of her boyfriend, she was not aware of anything, walked over his mat and kept walking. The man got angry. "Dirty woman! I am praying and she is walking on my mat." He shouted, "Hey! Stop!" But she did not hear him. He thought she was insulting him, so he got up from his prayer mat and ran after her. He stopped her and said, "Why did you walk on my mat?" She came out of her dream and said, "What?" He said, "I was praying to God and you walked on my mat." She said, "Look here, I am going to meet my boyfriend. I was thinking so much about him that I did not know you were praying. What kind of love were you having and feeling towards God, if you knew that I was passing?"


In the famous book Ramayana, the last stanza of prayer is: "Just as a passionate man is immersed in the thought of his woman, just as a greedy man is always neurotic about gold, in the same way, God should become dear to me. However I may be born as an insect, as a reptile, as an elephant, a dog or a donkey, in any life I may be born, I don't care and I have no choice, but I have one choice. I should become aware of God."

If that is the attitude, then nothing matters, money or not money, good family or bad family, success or failure. In the same stanza it says, "I do not want fulfillment of desires. I do not want to have liberation. I don't want to see you either. God, I don't want to come out of the cycle of birth and death. I don't want to become a good man either, but life after life, my mind must be conscious of your lotus feet." This is the last stanza which people throughout India pray every day.

The word for love in hatha yoga is rati. Rati means the relationship between a man and a woman. During love, during embrace, during kiss, during talk, that particular attitude which two lovers have for each other, is called rati, and that has to be the attitude for God. So close and so intimate. Then where is space for desires?

September 1980, Zinal, Switzerland

River of Desires

To experience bhakti you must redirect your emotions from the inauspicious to the auspicious path. You must take the flow of the river of desires to an auspicious course. It has been said:

Shubhabhyam ashubhabhyam vahanti vasana sarita.

Between the auspicious and the inauspicious, flows the river of desires.

We call the river of desires ‘emotion'. We do not see this river, but we feel it. Emotions flow within us like a river. We can control this river, change its course and turn it into a channel.

However, you cannot have half of your emotional self here and half there. You cannot experience anger and bhakti at the same time. The rule of fifty-fifty does not work. There needs to be one hundred percent sublimation of emotions, a complete change of course.

What will be achieved through this? Grace.

2004, Rikhiapeeth, Jharkhand