“The biggest threat to the environment is humanity’s need to generate,
consume and discard with little regard for the external threat of our desires.”
young Environmental Defense Fund economist
Desires are significant in all of the Western and Eastern religious traditions and in the spiritual tradition of Yoga. In the western religious traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, desires are considered temptations that move us away from God. Members of those traditions often feel tremendous guilt when they give into those desires. In the eastern religious traditions, desires take on a much different flavor. They are considered the cause of suffering and unhappiness because one can rarely satisfy all the desires that one has.
In the spiritual tradition of Yoga, which is also from the eastern cultural traditions, desires become afflictions, called “kleshas.” They become barriers to our experience of union with “Ishvara,” the highest goal of life. In English, Ishvara is often translated as “God.”
Ms Beia Spiller, in the above quote, points out the destructive nature of some of our desires. However, all religious traditions and a spiritual tradition like yoga would somewhat disagree with her. Ms Spiller is talking about some of our desires, not all of them.
Imagine what it would be like if we consciously desired love and peace, harmony and truth, knowledge and the well-being of others! We all have these desires. They are our highest desires and the external consequences of such desires would revolutionize our place in the universe. We would consciously do things that not only protect ourselves but everyone and everything else on the planet. We would consciously work for the benefit of the whole instead of just our individual selves. We would consume only what we need, not what we greed. We would search for ways to take care of each other; ways to learn more about ourselves and the world in which we live without harming ourselves or our world.
I am all in favor of working hard to fulfill our highest desires!
We must fulfill our desire to love all people.
We must fulfill our desire to learn as much as we can.
We must fulfill our desire to live life to the fullest—not live out of our desire for security, or our desire for pleasure, or our desire for power. No, we must fulfill our desire for love, knowledge, wisdom, and finally union with the Source of our Life, God.
I’m in favor of working hard to fulfill those highest human desires!