Increase your reserves of
energy, will power and creativity
by sacrificing habitual desires
The Upanishads have been called the oldest and purest source of spiritual wisdom known to humanity. These ancient scriptures share profound revelations on the nature of the eternal Supreme Reality–wisdom that the great sages realized in the depths of their meditation. These same sages promise that when an earnest spiritual seeker manifests this wisdom in his or her own life, peace, happiness, creativity and freedom from fear become constant companions.
The word Upanishad comes from the Sanskrit, “to sit down near” the feet of the Guru in order to receive an important teaching. One of the most well known and practical Upanishads (Brihadaranyaka) states, “You are your deepest driving desire. As your deepest
driving desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
When we reflect on these straightforward words, we marvel at the genius behind them. Modern science has produced many tools that enhance the quality of life, but even the most brilliant scientists have not suspected this subtle law of physics: real creative power comes from desire.
The sages of the Upanishads explain that if we can find a way to harness the most powerful desires in the depths of our consciousness, we will live a life that is an inspiring and rewarding work of art–one that far surpasses our present capacity to imagine. Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, always claimed to be just an average man of less than average ability, yet he attained greatness. Furthermore, there was no doubt in his mind that any person could achieve the equal of what he did–if only he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same determination. “Strength,” Gandhi insisted, “does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
When we look at our modern culture with the detachment and objectivity of a scientist, we can see just the opposite belief at work. There’s an unspoken, pervasive assumption that cultivating many desires for objects and relationships will bring us the happiness and the fulfillment we seek in life.
Process for Transforming the Power of Desire
1. Center yourself in the Eternal Witness within and welcome, acknowledge and honor the thought, desire or emotion.
By the willing and conscious removal of your attention from the preya, the inherent contractive and debilitating power of the preya is automatically transformed into strategic reserves of energy, will power and consciousness that can be used to fulfill any other desire or relationship.
The spiritual life requires gentle, conscious opposition to this modern conditioning. In the practice of meditation and yoga science we learn to unify the power of our many, various desires so that they serve our deepest driving desire. By recognizing that desire is the fuel for all human action, the sages conceived a scientific formula that might well be called the spiritual equivalent of Einstein’s E=MC2. The formula they discerned was: D = E + W + C.
Every DESIRE is composed of three basic components: Energy, Will power and Creativity (consciousness). When you follow your intuitive wisdom and willingly surrender your attachment to habit, you really give up nothing of value. The intrinsic power of the particular desire is not lost. Instead, your voluntary act of renunciation and sacrifice automatically transforms the power of that desire into strategic reserves of energy, will and creativity. Conversely, when you go against the advice of your intuitive wisdom, your energy, will power and creativity are diminished.
As the modern day sage Eknath Easwaran insightfully observed, the major crisis of our culture today is not one of IQ–intelligence quotient. Rather, the problem we face individually and collectively is one of WQ–will quotient. In twenty-first century America countless people possess the intellectual capacity to make brilliant decisions, but because they are habituated to serving a vast array of desires, their reserves of will power have become bankrupt. Without sufficient will power to exercise discrimination, their reserves of energy and creativity are similarly diminished. The more these reserves are depleted, the more pervasive and severe the tension, stress, anxiety and pain become.
As in banking, our personal balance sheet always reflects whether deposits or withdrawals have been made. The choice of solvency or bankruptcy is up to each individual.
During the early days of our sadhana, Jenness had lingering doubts about the mechanism that transforms the power of desire into creativity, will power and energy. Could it really be so simple? As a yoga scientist, she decided to set up an experiment to determine if, by consciously giving up some small habitual indulgence, the energy of that habit could be transmuted into a creative resource in her life.
Jenness had developed the pleasant habit of enjoying a cup of hot tea with sugar and milk every morning. After consulting the buddhi regarding the effects of the sugar, caffeine and irritating tannins, she chose this as her test of the yogic formula D = E + W + C. She renounced her attachment to the gratifying tea ritual, began substituting theshreya of plain hot water and patiently watched for evidence of transformation.
Weeks later, she had a conversation with a close relative who possessed precise knowledge of how to push her emotional buttons and always enjoyed doing so. During this particular exchange, however, Jenness suddenly found herself relaxed and loving, skillfully evading the usual pitfalls and frustrations. The meeting was actually quite pleasant and enjoyable, despite the fact that many sensitive issues were discussed.
She quickly realized how the conversation had become so unexpectedly satisfying. Remembering her attachment to the tea ritual she had consciously renounced, Jenness experienced an epiphany. “Aha,” she humbly mused to herself, “now I know the transformative power of sacrifice through my own experience.”
Consciously releasing the power tied up within small desires increases your energy, will power and creativity–in the ways and at the times you most need help. The simple yet courageous act of letting go automatically activates a mechanism that transforms the mental energy of attachment.
Yoga science urges you to recognize that you always have choices, and that there are definite and specific consequences for each and every action. The sages advise you to serve your own intuitive wisdom moment by moment. Only then will life become truly meaningful, creative and fulfilling.