Eliminating the Force of Desire As the Motive of Action

When the individual seeker is moved to take up the practice of Yoga, the original basis of action in the vital and physical realm, the working of desire, must eventually be eliminated and replaced. Looking at things from the normal human standpoint, we have a hard time understanding how there can be any will to action at all without desire. This is due to the deeply ingrained habits of life that we accept as axiomatic for humanity. Sri Aurobindo explains that desire, while prevalent at a certain level of evolutionary development, can and in fact must be removed if any true progress in the yoga of works is to be attained. This comes about through the shift from the human standpoint to the divine standpoint. From the divine standpoint, all individuals are a nexus for the divine expression, with the impulsion coming from the Divine in order to carry out the work to be done. Individual preference, and the attaining of specific fruits of action for a specific individual, are deformations rather than essential forms of action.

“Only the pure force of action in them (pravrtti) justified by an equal delight in all work and result that is inspired or imposed from above will be preserved in the happy harmony of a final perfection. To act, to enjoy is the normal law and right of the nervous being; but to choose by personal desire its action and enjoyment is only its ignorant will, not its right. Alone the supreme and universal Will must choose; action must change into a dynamic movement of that Will; enjoyment must be replaced by the play of a pure spiritual Ananda. All personal will is either a temporary delegation from on high or a usurpation by the ignorant Asura.”

Of course, determining to be rid of desire as the impulsion of action, and actually accomplishing it, are two different things. There is required a persistent and alert effort to reject desire. There are various methods that can be used to accomplish this, but care should be exercised as pure suppression tends to make the force of desire stronger and it rebounds with an incredible energy when that occurs. The being may swing between the uneasy state of desire and the calm state of peace, and over time, learn how to choose the one over the other as the natural and proper state of existence. Through reflection, through careful modification and re-directing of the energies, through creating a new reference point from which to judge choices and actions, eventually the force of desire is weakened and can be replaced by the individual acting as a conduit or nexus of the action of the Divine Force.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 8, The Supreme Will, pp. 198-199