Sunday, June 12, 2011

Desire of the Boddhisattva

Our human society, with all its intricacies, has been created by the interplay of human desires. In mathematical terms, it is the resultant vector emerging from a field of vectors where every desire of every human is a vector. These various desires of countless humans have interacted in complex ways to produce the world as it is today. Hitlers desire, obviously, was a major force that led to the second world war. Edison's desire led to the invention of the light bulb. None of these desires stand by themselves. They have been assisted and shaped by countless other desires, from within the same individual and from other individuals. It is interesting to study the characteristics of these desires. While some of the desires lead to a change in the external world, others do not. There are many factors that are involved here. The most important one is the strength and depth of the desire. Other factors would be the external situation that the individual finds hirself in, competition from other desires (from within the same individual and from others) etc.

Now if we observe the desires of most human beings impartially, it would be fair to conclude that most of them are not deep. Most desires of most people are simply social software - starting from good marks, to good looking spouse, to well paying job, to intelligent kids, to fear and desire of opinion of others. Unfortunately, much of our society is shaped by such shallow desires. This is not to denigrate these so called 'simple' desires of the average man but to point out the unhealthiness of the same (much like how a doctor points out that eating junk food is unhealthy as it leads to obesity). When an individual is driven by these desires, there is constant drama and conflict in the individuals life caused by conflicts of these desires with the desires of others who cross hir life path and/or by the failure of these desires to materialize. This generally only leads to a negative spiral of unsatisfaction and unhappiness. The way out is to understand the nature of desire. The reason for most desires is some form of gratification, of the mind or the body. Inability to live without a certain form of gratification is commonly referred to as addiction. The most general description of the addiction of socially programmed desire is a feeling of incompletion and the need to feel complete by the arrival of something external. The more intensely an individual sees this, the more the social software will fall away. The more the social software falls away, the more the deeper wants and needs of the individual surface.

Usually, its the people with these deeper wants and needs who shape the human society at a bigger level. They tend to become the, so called, 'leaders' of the society. There are quite a few such contemporary leaders in varying disciplines today. We will have to wait for history to judge the extent to which the deeper desires of Narayanamoorthy have affected the Indian society. The impact of these deeper desires are sometimes favorable and sometimes unhealthy, unlike the desires caused by social software. At least some sections of the society will benefit in a few ways from these deeper desires.

The separation of these desires into those caused by social software and those that are deeper is obviously not black and white. The deeper ones are many times influenced, and in the worst case, even hijacked by social software. This can be seen in how people try to optimize doing what they like and at the same time attempt to maximize their income (doctors who like their job but working in high paying hospitals and software folks who like software engineering but working in high paying IT firms are two examples that come to mind immediately). The question here is obviously not about earning an income for livelhood but about continously amassing wealth (of course, there is almost no one who things (s)he is in the latter category). Most often than not, in order to satiate ones deeper desires, one needs to play with and manipulate the base desires of others. In order to run a company, it is (almost?) necessary to offer 'competitive' (euphemism for up to the mark of greed) salaries and profit by taking part in the ruthless capitalistic machine. This requirement to manipulate others ego in order to satiate ones deeper desire is the reason why many of these deeper desires also, many times, fall into the realm of egoic desires. Hence, the actual benefits accrued from actions arising out of such deeper desires are questionable.

But this need not always be the case and it may often be possible to direct these deep desires into the right path. The right path is not a collection of rules that can be specified from outside but a direction that comes from within when the ego has completely left. Such a person can then effectively let their deeper desires flower in a way that is most fulfilling to them and most useful to the world. They may even continue to work in the so called 'capitalistic machine' or any other 'machine', but their reasons will be entirely different from the usual reasons of most other individuals within the same 'machine'. Though, I suspect, it will be increasingly harder as the pressures of the machine would be immense.

Bodhisattvas Descending from Heaven. Japanese painting, c. 1300.

There are other individuals who do not fit into the above described categories. These people do not have any desires of themselves. They are perfectly content with 'what is' and have no resistance to that at any time. They are truly the people who have discovered the state of completion within and thereby are beyond the need for desires. But, they consciously retain one desire, which is the complete and total reformation of the human society. They are the Boddhisattvas (individuals in dharma megha samadhi, in yoga terms). Since this is the only desire they have, all their energies are spent towards this. Consequently, it is amongst the strongest desire a human can experience. In addition, since this desire is motivated by compassion, it is amongst the deepest desires a human may experience and the way such desires shape the world is tremendously of a different quality than how any other average human's desire may shape the world. The desire of the Boddhisattva is unchanging and unrelenting, despite intense opposition from the very society which they intend to change. All desires of other humans vary in intensity and will eventually fritter away, depending on external and internal circumstances of the human(s) hosting those desires. Only the desire of the Boddhisattva is exempt from this increase in entropy. There are no internal conflicts within the Boddhisattva. There are no external circumstances that are too much for the Boddhisattva. Under these circumstances, the desire of the Boddhisattva will remain until the desire is satisfied.

In a world shaped by varying desires, when one desire holds its position firmly and is stronger than any other desire, slowly all other desires will start to align themselves with this desire. Gradually, the strength of this group will increase and over a period of time, it is inevitable that all human desires align themselves with the desire of the Boddhisattva, though the duration this process takes may have have to be measured in evolutionary terms. The desire of the Boddhisattva outlives the physical presence of the same. According to the Hindu theory of rebirth, as long as any desire is held, rebirth is inevitable. If this is to be accepted, then the Boddhisattva will be born again until hir desire of the evolution of the human race is met! But, if rebirth theories are not to be considered, it can be clearly seen how when an individual has the meme of selfless action for the upliftment of human society with total integrity and internal peace, the meme continues to propagate effectively into other humans and thereby lives on!

So, even a single Boddhisattva is enough for social transformation. But, it may take a very long time and in the meantime many humans will have to undergo tremendous pain and sufferring. But, instead, if more and more people align themselves with the desire of the Boddhisattva, the society may transform faster and thereby a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering may be brought down. If one sees this, will one not align ones life with the desire of the Boddhisattva?

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