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The Power of Desire



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What is Desire? Let us see! Webster tells us that it is:"The natural longing to possess any seeming good; eager wish to obtain or enjoy," or in its abnormal or degenerate sense:"excessive or morbid longing; lust; appetite. " "Desire" is a much-abused term – the public mind has largely identified it with its abnormal or degenerate phase, just mentioned, ignoring its original and true sense. Many use the word in the sense of an unworthy longing or craving, instead of in the true sense of "aspiration," "worthy craving and longing," etc. To call Desire "aspiration" renders it none the less Desire. To apply to it the term "laudable aim and ambition" does not take away from it is character of Desire. There is no sense in endeavoring to escape the fact that Desire is the natural and universal impulse toward action, be the action or good or bad. Without Desire the Will does not spring into action, and nothing is accomplished. Even the highest attainments and aims of the race are possible only when the steam of Will is aroused by the flame and heat of Desire.

Some of the occult teachings are filled with instructions to "kill out desire," and the student is warned to beware of it even in its most insidious and subtle forms, even to the extent of "avoiding even the desire to be desireless – even desire not to desire. Now this is all nonsense, for if one"wishes," or "wants," or "is inclined," or "thinks best to," or "is pleased to" Kill Out Desire – in any of these cases he is but manifesting a Desire "not to desire," in spite of his use of other names. What is this "wishing to; wanting to; feeling like; inclination; being pleased to;" and all the rest, but just plain, clear, unadulterated Desire masquerading under some of these names. To proceed to "kill out desire" without "desiring" to do so is like trying to lift oneself by pulling on his own bootstraps. Folly. What is really meant is that the occultist should proceed to kill out the lower desires that he finds within his nature, and also to kill out the "attachment" for things. Regarding this last we would say that all true occultist know that even the best "things" are not good enough to rule and master one-nothing is good enough for the soul to allow itself to be unduly attached to it so that the thing rules the soul instead of the soul mastering the thing. That is what the teachings mean – avoidance of "attachment. "And in this the occult teachers are clearly right. Desire is a frightful master – like fire it sweeps away the supports of the soul, leaving nothing but smoldering ashes. But, also like Fire Desire is a splendid servant and by its harnessed power we are able to generate the steam of the Will and Activity, and to accomplish much in the world. Without proper Desire the world would be without activity. So do not make the mistake of using Desire any more than you would refuse to use fire – but in both cases keep the mastery in your own hands, and avoid allowing the control to pass from you to Desire.

Desire is the motivating force that runs the world; as little as we care to admit it in many cases. Look around you and see the effects of Desire in every human act, good or bad. As a writer has said:"Every deed that we do, good or bad, is prompted by Desire. We are charitable because we Desire to relieve our inner distress at the sight of suffering; or from the Desire of sympathy; or from the Desire to be respected in this world, or to secure a comfortable place in the next. One man is kind because he Desires to be kind – because it gives him satisfaction to be kind; while another man is cruel from precisely the same kind of motive. One man does his duty because he Desires to do it – he obtains a higher satisfaction from duty well done than he would from the neglecting of it in accordance with some weaker desires. The religious man is religious because his religious desires are stronger than his irreligious ones – because he finds a higher satisfaction in religion than in the pursuits of the worldly-minded. The moral man is moral because his moral desires are stronger than his immoral ones – he obtains a greater satisfaction in being moral than in being the contrary. Everything we do is prompted by Desire in some shape or form – high or low. Man cannot be Desireless and act in any way. Desire is the motivating power behind all actions – it is a natural law of life. Everything from the atom to the monad; from the monad to the insect; from the insect to man; from man to Nature, acts and does things by reason of the power and force of Desire, the Animating Motive. "

All the above at the first glance would seem to make of man a mere machine, subject to the power of any stray desire that might happen to come into his mind. But this is far from being so. Man acts not upon EVERY desire, but upon the STRONGEST Desire, or the Average of his Strongest Desires. This Average of Desires is that which constitutes his Nature or Character. And here is where the Mastery of the "I" comes in!Man need not be a slave or creature of his Desires if he will assert his Mastery. He may control, regulate, govern and guide his Desires in any directions that he pleases. Nay, more, he may even CREATE DESIRES by an action of his Will, as we shall see presently. By a knowledge of psychological laws he may neutralize unfavorable Desires, and grow and develop – yes, practically Create New Desires in their place – all by the power of his Will, aided by the light of his Reason and Judgment. Man is the Master of his Mind.

"Yes," but some close reasoning critic may object; "yes, that is true enough, but even in that case is not Desire the ruling motive – must not one Desire create these new Desires before he can do so – is not Desire always precedent to action? "Very close reasoning this, good friends, but all advanced occultists know that there is a point in which the Principle of Desire shades and merges into companion Principle, Will, and that a close reasoner and mental analyst may imagine a mental state in which one may be almost said to manifest a WILL to Will, rather than to merely Desire to Will. This state must be experienced before it can be understood – words cannot express it.

We have stated that it was in the power of man to Create Desire – not only to be its master when created, but also to actually Create it by bringing it into being. And the statement is absolutely true, and is verified and proven by the most recent experiments and discoveries of modern psychology. Instead of man being a creature of Desire – and this indeed he is in many cases – he may become Master of Desire and even a Creator of it. By knowledge and Will he may reverse the ordinary order of things and, displacing the intruder from the throne, he may seat himself there in his rightful place, and then bid the late occupant do his will and obey his bidding. But the best way for the new occupant of the throne to bring about a reorganized court is to dismiss the old objectionable creatures of his mind and create new ones in their places. And here is how it may be done: In the first place, one must think carefully over the tasks that he wishes to accomplish, then, using his judgment carefully, judicially and impartially – impersonally so far as is possible – he must take mental stock of himself and see in what points he is deficient, so far as the successful accomplishment of the task is concerned. Then let him analyze the task before him, in detail, separating the matter into as many clear defined divisions as possible, so that he may be able to see the Thing as It Is, in detail as well as in its entirety. Then let him take a similar inventory of the things, which seem necessary of the accomplishment of the task – not the details that will arise only as the work progresses, day by day – but the general things, which must be done in order that the task is brought to a successful conclusion. Then having taken stock of the task, the nature of the undertaking, and one’s own qualifications and shortcomings – then Begin to Create Desire, according to the following plan: The first step in the Creation of Desire is that of the forming of a clear, vital Mental Image of the qualities, things and details of the undertaking, as well as of the Completed Whole. By a Mental Image we mean a clear-cut, distinct mental picture in the Imagination of the things just names. Now, do not turn away with an impatient motion at the mention of the word Imagination. That is another word that you have only a mistaken idea of. Imagination means far more than the mere idle, fanciful use of that part of the mind that is believed by people to be "all there is to it. "It isn’t all, by a long way – in fact, the fanciful part may be said to be merely a shadow of the real Imaginative effort. Imagination is a real thing – it is a faculty of the mind by which it creates a matrix, mold, or pattern of things, which the trained Will and Desire afterward, materializes into objective reality. There has been nothing created by the hands and mind of man which did not have its first origin in the Imagination of some one. Imagination is the first step in Creation – whether of worlds or trifles. The mental pattern must always precede the material form. And so it is in the Creation of Desire. Before you can Create a Desire you must have a clear Mental Image of what you need to Desire.

You will find that this task of creating a Mental Image is a little harder than you had expected at the start. You will find it hard to form even a faint mental picture of that which you need. But be not discouraged, and persevere, for in this, as everything else. Practice makes perfect. Each time you try to form the Mental Image it will appear a little clearer and more distinct, and the details will come into a little more prominence. Do not tire yourself at first, but lay aside the task until later in the day, or tomorrow. But practice and persevere and you need, just as clearly as a memory picture of something you have already seen. We shall have more to say on this subject of Mental Imagery and Imagination in subsequent lessons.

Then, after having acquired the clear Mental Image of the things you wish to Desire, and thus attain, cultivate the focusing of the Attention upon these things. The word attention is derived from the Latin word "Attendere," meaning "to stretch forth," the original idea being that in Attention the mind was "stretched forth," or "extended" toward the object of attention, and this is the correct idea for that is the way the mind operates in the matter. Keep the ideas before your attention as much as possible, so that the mind may take a firm grasp upon them, and make them a part of itself – by doing this you firmly impress the ideas upon the wax tablet of the mind.

Thus having fixed the idea clearly in your mind, by means of the Imagination and Attention, until as we have said, it becomes a fixture there, begin to cultivate an ardent DESIRE, LONGING, CRAVING DEMAND for the materialization of the things. Demand that you grow the qualities necessary for the task – demand that your mental pictures materialize – Demand that the details be manifested as well as the Whole, making allowance for the "something better" which will surely arise to take the place of the original details, as you proceed – the Inner Consciousness will attend to these things for you.

Then Desire firmly, confident, and earnestly. Be not half-hearted in your demands and desires – claim and demand the WHOLE THING, and feel confident that it will work out into material objectivity and reality. Think of it, dream of it, and always LONG for it – you must learn to want it the worst way – learn to "want it hard enough. "You can attain and obtain many things by "wanting them hard enough" – the trouble is with most of us that we do not want things hard enough – we mistake vague cravings and wished for earnest, longing, demanding Desire and Want. Get to Desire and Demand the Thing just as you demand and Desire your daily meals. That is "wanting it the worst way. "This is merely a hint – surely you can supply the rest, if you are in earnest, and "want to hard enough. "