Desire Aspiration and Renunciation – M.S. Srinivasan

The process and stages of human growth can be described in many formulas, depending on the way we look at it. This article presents a perspective which is one way of looking at it but not the only way. There are many equally valid ways of presenting the same idea. Similarly, the terminology used here can be interpreted in a very different way from the one which I have adapted here for this article.

The first stage is the one driven by Desire where you strive hard to satisfy your desire for power, pleasure, wealth, ambition, achievement, success. In this stage we are more or less entirely ego-centric. However this stage helps the individual to raise from a state of tamasic inertia to the rajasic throb of life.

The second stage is that of Aspiration where we make a similar attempt to fulfill our nobler desires for knowledge and virtue, to be wise and good, to do something meaningful or creative or to contribute to the well being and progress of the society, to be someone great, noble, respected and admired. We may include here the spiritual desire for personal salvation or to be a great teacher or mentor or an instrument of God. This stage is also driven by ego and desire, but a subtler ego and nobler desires, which may sometimes pretend to be egoless, desireless and selfless, hiding behind a mask of saintliness. However in this stage our ego and desires are less narrow or gross because we include others or the larger life of which we are a part within the ambit of our ego or desire. But still, it is not entirely selfless. We include others or the larger whole in our purview because we perceive some benefit for us in it like for example our long-term self-interest or it gives some personal satisfaction for our moral ego. Nevertheless, this stage helps the individual to progress further from a state of feverish rajasic pursuit of desire to a more tranquil sattwic satisfaction.

The third stage is Renunciation. In this stage we let go all the desires of the earlier stages. We let go all the desires of our body, sensation and emotions for pleasure, happiness, ease and comfort. We let go the desires of our will and vital being for power, achievement and success. We let go the desires of our mind for knowledge and understanding. We let go the desires of our moral being for nobility and virtue. We let go the desires of our personality to be something unique, special and different or something great or extraordinary seeking for attention, respect or admiration. We let go the desires of our spiritual ego for personal salvation or to be a great yogi, guru or an instrument of God.

And finally we let go everything which makes our individuality into a person distinct and separate from others. I have written this sentence so easily in paper within a few minutes. But this process of dissolving our separative individuality is the most difficult part of the spiritual discipline which may take an entire life-time or many births depending on the level of our inner development. And when we are able to do it we have reached the end or goal of our journey on earth.

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