July 4, 2013

Why Following Our Desires Is the Path to Spiritual Suicide. ~ Maya Yonika

Photo: Lamazone

P.S., our desires are our most valuable resource.

“Know that the Self is the lord of a chariot,

And the body is that chariot.

Reason is the driver and mind the reins.

The horses, it is said, are the senses.”

Katha Upanishad

Over 2,300 years ago, The Buddha discovered that craving or desire was the cause of all suffering.

He was referring to the hamster wheel on which we find ourselves searching for external things to make us happy, and no matter how successful we are, ultimately we end up unsatisfied. Yet the very fabric of modern society is woven with the belief that success and happiness are to be found through materialistic pursuits and external endeavors.

Like fish in water, we are unaware of the very substance in which we live and breathe.

Regardless of our personal claims against social norms—our Burning Man, neo-tantra, and flying spiral yoga classes—we have no idea how deeply the collective mindset resides within each of us and reaches into the subtleties of our thoughts, speech and action; indeed, within every aspect of our lives.

If we reach back in time, we come to find that our present culture of objectification and desire was literally planned and created by some extremely brilliant minds. In the face of severe struggles in the 1920s between government and business, Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, combined Freud’s ideas about humanity’s subconscious drives, and linked them with the marketing of products.

Using psychological techniques, Bernays created the first public relations aimed at convincing people that their happiness would be found in the acquisition of their desires.

“We must shift America from a needs—to desires—culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed (…)man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”[1]

Bernays’ methods were profoundly successful; the link between sex, happiness and acquisition was forged. The Western collective shifted into a desire and gratification based society. Accordingly, the more nutritious needs and qualities of humanity: love, family, affection within community, etc., have become ever more overshadowed by individualistic, ego-based acquisitions. From our disconnected state, an inhuman collective of fear, mental illness, spiritual poverty and isolation has become standard and normalized. Millions of people experience their entire lives believing this is how life actually is.

Today, many of us have stirred, knowing something’s amiss.

Our first move is to seek new perspectives, ways of being and spiritual healing. But in lacking guidance and discernment, too often we become trapped when the bulk of modern ideals and modalities actually steer us right back onto the hamster wheel.

We’re encouraged to look into the initial layers of personal pain and traumas—a reasonable enough endeavor for a time. Few, however, move beyond what can turn into a rather self-centered focus on ‘healing our past wounds’ in order to observe from a wider lens and discover the essential mindset from which our traumas were literally conceived. The root cause is rarely observed in earnest, never mind addressed.

Rather, ideals portrayed through modalities such as The Secret, neuro-linguistic programming, and sacred sex, to name a few, implicitly value the following of desires Although they may be excellent recourse to adjust to our domination society by teaching methods to gain abundance, power, and material success, they are borne from our socially conditioned McMindset and at their core, are an exacerbation of the root issues within the collective.

Each of them encourages acquisition and spiritual materialism by aiming toward gain, achievement, I, me, mine, indulgence in pleasures and egoistic reinforcements. In modern society, our desires are worshipped. Look around; we are endlessly encouraged to follow them.

If we take a moment to step back and observe the classic polarity of East versus West (Eastern conservatism and repression versus the Western obsession and acquisition), and the results of either perspective, we can observe that each polarity is one side of the very same coin and mindset. Most people split off into one or another school, either turning into nuns or monks and pushing desires away or completely going into them, swimming within a sea of obsessions and addictions.

It’s time we evolve from such polarities and become responsible with our desires—find balance.

Desire is an intense energy that arises within us and we desperately want the thing or the person or the product.  In fact, we may have no doubt whatsoever that we want that thing, and yes, we want it right now. Yet, it is our conditioning that has us believe our desires are innately about the acquisition of things. We focus our desires on a bag of chips, a sexual opportunity or a relationship… that new luxury Jaguar.

The truth of our desires is much deeper, more nutritious and valuable than as a means to obsess over superfluous gratifications.Desire is energy itself—a call to pay attention to our truth and awakening. Much like our dreams, they are messages from our unconscious, dark or feminine side and she communicates via intuition, feeling and symbol—not the ideas and logic of the mind.

Yet it is our mind that must translate our impulses and desires. Here’s where we become most stuck and confused:

The mind—in our present state of consciousness—tends to override the wisdom of our feelings, intuitions and emotions. 

The mind of the average person is like a computer board that translates based on what it has heard, known, or experienced; the input and output in which it has been trained. For most westerners who have not yet taken on a practice which creates deep intimacy with psychological processes, this means we are still run by the societal conditioning to acquire more sex, money, certifications, spiritual modalities—whatever external means we think will save us or bring us more love or happiness. But what if that thing, whatever it appears to be, is just the surface level appearance—a mask or symbol, if you will, of a much more deep and profound and yes, healthy soul yearning?

I was once very much stuck on my own hamster wheel; searching for my place and purpose, the right man or spiritual modality, I endlessly followed the whims of my desires.



Photo: indiewench

Yet my internal world began to drastically shift and change after living out of the United States for years. Out of the collective pressure and spin, I could focus on an intensive practice of yoga and meditation and remain celibate for long periods. During this time, as desires arose, rather than moving on them or allowing them to occupy my head in fantasy or obsessions, as was my past pattern, I observed and channeled my desires into art, writing, poetry, dance—whatever creative means suited me at the time—and discovered something very interesting:

The truth of my desires was rarely the same as my initial translation.

I discovered that if I didn’t follow the initial translation and whims of my desires, I was allowing space.

Without the distraction of acquiring or focusing on the object of desire beyond creative channelling, I was able to access the deeper qualities of the right brain—otherwise known as the feminine.  Time and time again, I came to understand that to follow my initial impulse without giving space for deeper wisdom and discernment was actually a form of domination over her, the feminine, that moves on her own time.  To move quickly was a violation which overrode the deeper and more real desires that can only be translated through a relaxed, centered inner stillness—the key to self-dignity.

When we simply follow the whims of our desires, we become caught in the world of false satisfactions translated by our social conditioning—the sex or product or little red pill.  We may acquire the thing we think we want, but eventually, without finding true satisfaction, the cycle begins again and we end up wanting more. This is the cycle of addiction.

Channelling our desires into creativity is a profound way to connect to our inner selves and to the world in a profoundly present and loving way.

Through allowing my uniquely creative flow, I could finally see the purpose and beauty that I’d been searching for all along. I had hidden it from myself by sacrificing my inner energy, power and creativity over to that which I thought I desired.

This was especially true when it came to sex and relationships—even the perpetual energy spent in hopes of one day acquiring ‘the right one.’ Ultimately, ‘on the hunt,’  I was never truly satisfied; I never knew the depths of my inner world and creative impulses. But now, I could safely and lovingly share of myself, making love with the world in a deep, rewarding and truly unconditional form of polyamory.

The results of my own personal study: no more hamster wheel—inner peace and a deep sense of accomplishment via my own creative processes. In other words, true contentment and satisfaction.

What if we were each to follow such a path—offering ourselves room to become intimate with the deep, inner truth and brilliance or ourselves rather than forever running after the next best thing or pleasure or knowledge that will save us?

What would happen if we, as a society, decided to step off of the wheel and gained access to the higher mind and inner creative process?

As Jesus stated, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within.”


1.Wall Street Banker Paul Mazur; Century of Self.


Maya Yonika is the author of No Mud, No Lotus: a Memoir of Sex, Betrayal and Spiritual Awakening, and offers sessions in Personal Empowerment and Integral Self Development.

Like elephant journal on Facebook.


Assistant Ed.: Stephanie Sefton/Ed: Brianna Bemel

Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,590