Desire-The Abyss

It feels like ages since I last wrote. I have been up & about doing so much that left me with very little energy & inspiration to write. Ironically, as soon as I woke up today I felt the urge to write due to my energy being at an all-time low last night. So, lesson for today – Indulging in any form of creativity gives energy.

I was trained by the Positive Psychology Association of Kenya to be a Character Coach. I learnt that the Love for learning also known as Curiosity is a character strength and this determines how much we will grow throughout life. I take pride in being big on this character strength. But I also learnt that any virtue becomes a strength when it lies in the middle i.e. moderation. Therefore, the key to leading a fulfilling life is having a harmonious passion not an obsessive passion which basically means leading a balanced life.

Clearly, I got work to do in this area because whenever I set a goal I pressurize myself too much to achieve it within unrealistic timelines to the point of getting drained. This also comes from my conditioning of always ‘doing’ not ‘being’. From what I know, this is what overachievers do and we all know that each one of us would rather be known as overachievers than die an average common man- a nobody!

Not only that, even our motivational speakers preach that we should make a difference in the lives of others so at least we leave many more people than our family to cry after us.

Why do we have such desires? Are these our personal goals or something that has been taught to us?

The dictionary meaning of desire – want, longing. So, ‘desire’ simply means wanting something that we lack but wish to have.

The word itself signifies ‘discontent’ and means that if we base ‘lack’ as the reason for pursuing our goal then we will never be happy since the goal post will keep changing because we will always lack something. That is why we always find ourselves in a never ending chase of something or the other.

The opposite of ‘desire’ is ‘fulfillment’ which is about having a mindset of gratitude, of appreciation for all that we have. And where there is gratitude there is not much room for longing. Desire is a bottomless cup whereas Gratitude is a full cup.

Michael Singer says we want ‘things’ to compensate for the fact that we don’t feel whole and complete within ourselves.

I often wonder what we humans would do if we were just happy, fulfilled, and complete with ‘curbed desires’.

Would we ever go to work? What would motivate us to keep going?

I have asked these questions in different ways so many times over the past few years but each time I find the same answer.

The answer is that happy and fulfilled humans create more, give more, leading to happy relationships, productive work, because one is filled with love to ooze love to the surroundings in every area of one’s life. We do not need the motivation of desires, our own existence is the reason for carrying on and exploring life. Hence, the impact we create is not intentional, it is just a by-product of our being.

The problem is we don’t have role models of fulfilled people who aren’t running behind obtaining a label or looking for followers.

We glorify being busy and accumulating things. Our role models are the ones who work 24×7 and have changed the world to give us better technology, better comfort or glamorous celebrities who have paparazzi following them.

Yes, they did give the world so much, but have we ever tried to distinguish between the improvisation that the human race indeed ‘needed’ and the ones that are ‘extras’ to the point that they aren’t serving the human race but individual interests?

We have better living conditions than ever before but why does it accompany higher rates of depression? If material possessions & fame is the ultimate goal then why do celebrities commit suicide? May be because in all this development we lost true intimate human connections. May be in so much external chaos we lost the opportunity to connect to our soul.

I live in Nairobi and the much talked about expressway is finally built & ready for use. When I came to Nairobi 12 years ago, it was beautifully surrounded by nature. We had hills in most parts of the city and trees everywhere, even along the Mombasa road (above which the expressway has been built). Then the government decided to cut down trees and build the expressway. I understand the business sense in doing this, but it is accompanied by the desperate attempt of bringing in the lost greenery by cladding the huge columns with countless planters hanging from tiny plastic trays. Even in other parts of the city I see loss of nature substituted by similar development. Greenery and nature was never our problem but now it is slowly becoming our problem. The climate change is quite noticeable. When will humans learn that development cannot be at the cost of the well-being of an individual or a nation? Soon we will have to make a choice between the ecosystem and economic growth. We are forgetting that we can survive only if the ecosystem remains in balance.

Sadhguru is riding his motorbike across 26 nations to bring awareness about the deteriorating nature of soil which will cause a food crisis by 2035, not far away. The day we run out of natural resources is when we will realize that we can’t eat money and there could be civil wars for natural resources. Is that the end of the human race we are working ‘hard’ towards?

According to Girard’s theory of ‘Mimetic desire’, a lot of our desires don’t emerge from within, but from ‘outside’. “We import our most powerful desires from imitation of the desires of other people. In fact, the entire advertising industry is founded on the exploitation of borrowed desire. Human desire is not a linear process where a person autonomously desires an inherently desirable object. Rather, we desire according to the desire of others”.

French thinker Montesquieu explained it beautifully “If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think of them as happier than they are.”


Our soul takes birth life after life to experience the karmic cycles aiming towards the ultimate freedom known as ‘nirvana’ or ‘moksha’. Irrespective of the religion we follow I think we can agree that the soul knows it all, it has no clouded judgment, ego, envy or any other worldly attributes & desires that the human form has. Do you think it will seek satisfaction in obsessing over and getting caught in the Abyss of Desire?

Much Love,

Rashmi Yadav

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