When you ask people what they want in life, most would say that they want a million dollars, or an unlimited supply of beautiful partners, the finest food and drinks, or the fastest cars. Almost all of them would pick at least one of these if they’re granted the power to get anything they desire in life.
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This is an answer that we would receive from someone who has not enquired within themselves about what they really want. The apparent inexperience in such an answer reflects that what you want is to control everything.
But a self-enquiry is where everything aligns itself. If you pause for a moment, become very quiet and ask your inner self whether that is what it really wants – to be in complete control and have the world at your feet – you will soon realise that it is not what you truly desire.
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All possible futures become predictable if you are in complete control. And that is not something your soul would desire anymore. You would then crave for some excitement beyond what you already have.
So out of your self-enquiry, you will realise that we are disillusioned with the idea of power. Anyone who has understood this through their inner-self will have no desire to be in such type of control. But modern society is obsessed with the idea of control and it has not thought it through. This is one of our greatest lessons.
In this self-enquiry of what you want, when you have all the worldly pleasures at your fingertips, you will eventually get bored. Your mind will then seek new sources of pleasure to keep itself stimulated. Perhaps this is best seen in ancient Rome.
Ancient Romans were the prime example of hedonism. They pursued pleasure to an extent that is only imaginable in our times. They had the most exotic food and drink that they would binge on, and once they were full, they would vomit it all out so that they could continue eating even more. The most beautiful women were made slaves as prostitution was a part of the Roman culture. The streets had public baths, brothels and spas were a place for entertainment for men. As they had explored every possible sense of pleasure, the barbaric crowd had to be given a different stimulation to keep their pleasure levels at a high. The colosseum hosted shows for these madmen, where slaves or the condemned were brutally killed and eaten by hungry lions or other big animals as the crowd cheered. This was called ‘Damnatio ad bestias’ and was justified as capital punishment, but it was nothing short of a sadistic pursuit of pleasure.
As ancient history tells us, seeking pleasure beyond a certain point only takes you towards pain. It takes you to hell. This is why hell is depicted as a place where one gets tortured for eternity. You will only get a kick out of pain once you have experienced all kinds of pleasures to its ultimate limit.
People enter this sort of hell because they do not enquire within themselves about what they really want in life. Their thoughtless pursuit of the pleasures of life eventually end up in the pursuit of pain at some point.
This is why you see Hindu and Buddhist monks renounce worldly attachments and all forms of pleasure on a path towards Spiritual awakening. That does not mean that renouncing everything is the ONLY path towards it or that you have to renounce everything. What it means is that it is a path that monks choose because they have enquired within themselves and understood that the world is an illusion and a mindless pursuit of pleasure is a road to hell.
In everyday life, you are in the constant pursuit of some form of pleasure. You may think that this is what you want, but pause for a moment and ask yourself: What do you really want?
A monk was once famously asked, “What do you really want?” And his answer was, “I know not.”
This does not mean that the monk has no idea what he wants and is stupid. But what it means is that he has attained a state of desirelessness. He has no longing for the physical world anymore because he dwells in a place you cannot see, at a higher vibratory level.
Before you begin your self-reflection, if you do not know what you want, it is usually because you haven’t thought about it. Once you do think about it, you will find that there are certain things you like and you desire those things in life. But when you really reflect on your inner-self and ask whether that is really something you want, you will realise that even though something gives you a temporary illusion of satisfaction and pleasure, it is not what you want.
When you stop clinging to your desires and achieve a state of desirelessness, you realise that you have finally let go. You no longer try to stay in constant control of what you desire. By surrendering this control, you access a power much greater than yourself. This is when you are in touch with the divine.