The right desire…

सर्वं परवशं दुःखं सर्वमात्मवशं सुखम् ।
एतद् विद्यात् समासेन लक्षणं सुखदुःखयोः ॥

sarvaṃ paravaśaṃ duḥkhaṃ sarvamātmavaśaṃ sukham |
etad vidyāt samāsena lakṣaṇaṃ sukhaduḥkhayoḥ || 

Manusmriti 4.160

All that is dependent on others is painful; all that is dependent on oneself is pleasing; he shall know this to be, in short, the definition of pleasure and pain.

A very simple, but profound way of looking at pleasure and pain, at happiness and unhappiness. A lot of times, we look for complicated answers, when the solution can be quite straightforward. As succulently put by Manu, thousands of years ago.

The root cause of all misery is desire – so says the ancient Vedic texts and the Buddha. A lot of us tend to misunderstand this to be a call to asceticism. If desire is the root cause, then it must be evil, isn’t it? Well, the pillars of Vedic Indian thought are four goals of human life, or Puruṣārtha – dharmaarthakāma and mokshaKāma, or desire, is very much a part of our lives. The right desire is what is referred to here – desire that creates life, that improves oneself – and not the desire for mere materialistic things.

The wrong desire causes heartburn – a sense of anxiety and unfulfillment when we do not get what we want. This also extends to our feelings – the more we are dependent on external factors for happiness, the more we are likely to be disappointed. Manu advises us to look inwards – and understand what makes us truly happy is within us. This will lead to freedom of thought and action, and in turn lead to lasting happiness and peace.

See you tomorrow!