The Enemy Within
The nature of desire is such that once it is fulfilled, it becomes greed. I just want a little more… then some more … and then even more… it never stops. This craving continues throughout one’s life.
Take the example of a child wanting something. If you try to put it off, you will be faced with a massive tantrum. For the child, there is no tomorrow or evening or later on , the desired object is wanted ‘ right now!’ you try to be smart, ‘Alright, I will give it to you, but do you promise, you will not ask for anything else? Absolutely promise?’ and every parent knows how innocently and promptly the child will promise to never ask for anything again! How long does it last?
Desires can be compared to a box of paper tissues. Like tissues, another pops up as soon as one is pulled out; as soon as you satisfy one desire, the second is waiting for you. Desire have a good understanding among themselves- it is only when the first goes that the second one surfaces. Fulfill it and behold- the third is waiting for you!
This just goes on and on. The root of all sins is this greed.
Needs vs. Desires
In our life, we must distinguish between our needs and our desires . We have natural, physical needs- when you are hungry, you want food; when you are thirsty you want to drink something. These are natural needs; they cannot be categorized under desire or kaam.
Categories of Desire
The desire for realization of truth , for liberation, or desire for God, are all desires and there will be some agitation until the desire is fulfilled. This type of desire which is for one’s own upliftment will not make you engage in sinful acts. Such a desire cannot be said to be mahashanah or mahapaapama,!
The desire that should be considered as your enemy is the desire for more and more sense pleasures, indulgence and gratification of the senses. Greed for more power, wealth and pleasures can never be fulfilled. These desire are very different from fulfillment of our natural needs. Here we are talking about the extrovert mind and the consequent seeking of pleasure in sense objects. Such desires only go on multiplying. Sri Krishna says viddhienamihavairinam understand this to be your enemy. It makes you do wrong things.
Overcoming Harmful Addictions
It is true that some desires are very strong and difficult to overcome. They cause so much sorrow that you think, I don’t want to do this, ‘I don’t want to do this’. For example, someone suffering but addicted to alcohol or drugs, says, ‘I want to quit’. Unfortunately, by that time the habit has become so ingrained, the inclination(vasana) has gathered strength and become so deep rooted that it cannot be easily overcome. Just his saying that he wishes to give it up is very superficial; it is not a strong desire. Mark Twain said “Giving up cigarette smoking is the easiest thing to do. I have done it a hundred times”. We are just like him!
Another reason for ‘feebly’ wanting to give up something is because we like it. It gratifies our sense and we enjoy it, even though we know it is harmful. That is why Bhagwan says; ‘Kaameshe, krodhesherajogunasamudbhavah….’
Thus , we may say that we do not want to do a specific thing, but secretly we enjoy it. Sometimes I say, I want to give up a particular habit because it is considered wrong or undesirable by others. But the fact is that deep down, I do not think that it is wrong.
If you do not want to do a certain thing, nobody can force you to do it. Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda used to say that if somebody does not want to attend a Gita lecture, twenty horses cannot bring him here. Often in our lives we fail to do many things which may benefit ourselves or others, but we are unable to do so. Why? Because there is no real will or desire to do so.
So , the reason why we commit sin is because of ignorance, wrong notions or the power of habits which have gained such a strong grip over us that they push us into doing something that we may not want to do.