August 12, 2017
As in disease, so in life: the diagnosis is the most important and the most difficult part of treatment. If we concede that our sufferings spring from causes outside us, we try to remove those causes by reforming the world. If we feel that it is the heat of the summer that worries us, we air-condition our room. If we find that someone criticizing us worries us, we try to silence him. If we think our suffering comes from the policies of a certain government, we work against it and topple it. But soon we realize that the remedy is worse than the disease! As my Gurudev Sivananda used to put it humorously, "The operation was successful, but the patient died!"
The air-conditioned room makes our bodies too sensitive to even a slight change in the temperature. In trying to silence our critic, we create more. We discover that power conferred by position and authority corrupts all, and that one government is as good or as bad as another. We continue to suffer, groping for the real cause which is not outside us, but within us. It is 'desire', 'craving' in all its shades right up to its subtlest form as 'will to live'.
Looking at the functioning of our own bodies, we can easily arrive at the conclusion that conscious desiring is unnecessary (and is perhaps a hindrance) to the proper functioning of our vital organs. It is enough for us to realize that food is not digested and blood does not circulate because we desire these. In our own body, there are certain functions which are voluntary (e.g. movement of our limbs, speech, etc.), others which are involuntary though to a limited extent they can be voluntarily controlled (e.g. breathing and elimination) and yet others which are completely involuntary.
In the same way, life in the world goes on whether we will it or not. The major part of it is beyond our control. We have some power to modify some phenomena and alter a few. By systematic training it is possible to so tune our conscious being to bring it into perfect alignment with Nature. We shall then entertain no desire at all, and yet be as active as our own heart which beats day and night without our desiring it and perhaps without a personal desire of its own. First, all evil desire should go, then personal desires and ultimately all desire. Then there will be an end to suffering.