Does the Spiritual Journey Require Giving Up My Desires?

One of the pitfalls on the journey of spiritual growth is mistaking the fruits of spiritual development for practices to be followed. An example of this is desire. All the great mystical traditions talk about desirelessness.

The sages speak of releasing desire or having no desire. This state is reached at a certain point in the spiritual journey, but it has been turned into a practice that aspirants earnestly attend to, giving up their desires. In extreme forms, these practices might take the shape of vows, such as poverty, chastity, and obedience, which were prevalent in the Roman Catholic religious period, or the bodhisattva vow of the Buddhists, wherein one commits to staying on the wheel of suffering and incarnation until the very last soul is liberated.

Your Spiritual Journey and Your Desires

Seekers attempt to give up their desires, renouncing things like smoking, sex, or alcohol. These practices can be useful in helping us identify and release habits that hinder our happiness. However, desirelessness is not a habit, but rather a consequence—an effortless consequence—of spiritual practice. It is not something one needs to achieve or practice; it naturally occurs at a certain stage of the journey. Desirelessness is not a desirable goal; it is simply a byproduct of progress along the path. When you desire nothing other than oneness with the infinite, all other desires vanish. Having all desires vanish is a sequel to the insatiable desire of the mind, body, and heart for oneness with the infinite. Therefore, the release of desire is a natural and automatic result of single-minded focus on the infinite.

When you love the divine beloved with all your being, love for all other objects is consumed in that infinite love. There is no need to strive to be desireless or give up any of your desires, whether they are for food, alcohol, sex, fame, money, status, position, intimacy, family, community, strength, beauty, wisdom, possessions, or anything else. When your attention is consumed by the focus on the infinite, there is no room for any other desire. Desires for worldly things automatically vanish when all capacity for desire is consumed by the obsession with oneness with the infinite. When you are one with the infinite, you have everything. You don’t need anything else. There is nothing else to want or seek. You have everything you need, and there is no concept of needing or wanting anything else. Nothing else could conceivably satisfy. The bottom line is that you don’t need to give up any of your desires; you simply need to single-mindedly pursue union with the infinite. Desirelessness is a natural and inevitable consequence of focusing on what is real, endearing, and eternal.

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