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Above the Clouds 02 - Transforming Desires

Welcome to “Above the clouds,” 2nd installation!

In this podcast we are looking at the teachings of the Bhagavatam in order to apply them! Last time I left you with three tasks which we extracted from the Bhagavatam:

First, read or hear every day something about Krishna; therefore read at least for 5 minutes;

Second, have in some ways association of a devotee – the best is you discuss spiritual insights with them. You can do this also on the phone;

And the 3rd was: every single day sing the Holy Names of the Lord. Sing for Radha and Krishna who are there in the Holy Name.

Now, today, let us explore the next text that looks at the transformation of the desire. I quote:“The Supreme Personality of Godhead fulfills the material desires of a devotee who approaches Him with such motives, but He does not bestow benedictions upon the devotee that will cause him to demand more benedictions again. However, the Lord willingly gives the devotee shelter at His own lotus feet, and even though such a person does not aspire for it - that shelter satisfies all his desires. That is the Supreme Personality’s special mercy.” This is from Srimad - Bhagavatam, 5th canto, 19th chapter, text 27.

We will look at this text and find out how Krishna helps us to transform our desires a little bit later, but first let us ask the question: “What are desires, really?” Well, desires are impulses that come before any action which we do. Without desires you would not have made the step to come to Krishna consciousness. Without desires those of you who are married would not have married. Without desires those who have stayed single would not be single or monks. Desire is extremely powerful! In fact, in the Bhagavad-gita Krishna makes it clear that this world rests on desires. One of the Upanishads says: “As the person´s desire is, so is his destiny. For as his desire is, so is his will; as his will is, so is his deed; and as his deed is, so are it´s consequences, good or bad.”

Desires are on three levels:

1. Desires to satisfy the senses. I call these surface desires. They refer to desires when the mind just connects with the impulses and wants of the senses.

2. Then come the desires that define who we think we are – a musician, for instance, a monk, a cook… These come from a deeper level, from deep samskaras.

3. And then there are still deeper desires – desires for inner transformation and personal growth that originate from the soul or are Supersoul inspired. We think that there must be more to life, ‘I am not satisfied with what I have become so far’.

Now, if you remain unconscious of desires – they will dictate your life. You will feel drawn, most likely, to the surface desires which are very, very impactful, immediate, and very loud so to say. But if you look back at your life from the third level of desire where you are concerned with your personal advancement and growth, you will ask, “Wat became out of me?” The simple answer is: You have been pushed by desires that did not serve your highest or, let us call them – deepest aspirations.

The problem with desires at our stage is that we are divided souls. Srila Bhaktisiddantha Sarasvati said it very straightforward, “We are somewhere between Prahlad and Hiranyakasipu,” meaning that just like Prahlad Maharaj we have saintly desires and just like Hiranyakasipu we have very material desires - some of them are really bad desires. We are divided souls!

So, if you want to elevate your desires you need to understand the process of how your desires form. The helpful ones as well as harmful ones.

First is the state of thinking. We could call it the gestation state of desires. Here we first become aware of the possibility. For example, “It could be possible for me to eat an Italian pizza. At this stage, however, you are still detached and you may or may not go to the pizzeria.

Then comes, the next state (if you do not check the gestation process). It is the feeling state. We start to want something, it is an emotional awareness and emotions attach themselves to the thought, “Ah, it would be nice to eat pizza with my friends, I can make sure it is absolutely vegetarian!”

And from that forms a willing, an intention or firm resolve to make something happen for real - a commitment where we are relentlessly dedicated to our goal without allowing any hesitation or reservation to dominate our mind. We go for it, willingly!


It is interesting to note that once you know how your desires form, you can transform them. Let me take you through this process of transforming desires.

The first level was thinking. I could think, there is the possibility for me to become self-realised, there is the possibility to become a pure lover of Krishna. At that time, you need to strengthen your thought a little bit, therefore reading or hearing about Krishna or the lives of great souls is very important!

And then you can attach to this awareness of the possibility something which is stronger: feelings. These feelings become strengthened when you have contact with those who have those types of feelings. These feelings, once they are stronger, will naturally move you to form an intention, a sankalpa, a commitment – and then you will be dedicated firmly without any hesitation. And once Krishna becomes aware of your newly formed and strengthened desire He will help. Especially if you turn to Him and pray for help.

In the purport to this wonderful verse Srila Prabhupada writes: “A devotee may at first desire something other than service to the lotus feet of the Lord, but if he engages in Lord Krishna’s service - Krishna gives him shelter at His lotus feet, even though he does not aspire for it. The Lord says, “He is engaged in My service, but he still wants the benefits of material sense gratification. Such a devotee is like a person who asks for poison instead of nectar. That is his foolishness. But I am experienced, why should I give such a foolish person the dirty things of material enjoyment? It would be better for Me to give him the shelter of My lotus feet.”

Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura makes a very nice point regarding this. He says, “Those who desire mixed things are like Dhruva, but Krishna gives them His lotus feet nevertheless.” And he gives an example, “Just as a father gives the child sugar candy though the child does not want it, and in that way makes the child give up eating dirt - so the Lord gives his devotee His lotus feet and in that way the devotee gives up his material endeavours.”

We can only say: that is the special mercy of the Supreme Personality who helps His devotee by transforming his desire in the best way possible.

Thank you very much for listening! See you next week!

Sacinandana Swami

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