Glamor of Desire

Leonard Hodges

In a Sanskrit book already old when Christianity began, appears a remarkable statement, which assures us that once we have conquered that almost universal tendency to covet everything that seems desirable, we gain the power of acquiring all material wealth. The reader, dazzled by the glowing prospect, is tempted to resolve to rid his mind of every trace of personal desire and thus by an easy short-cut become the lucky possessor of what others spend long lives of labor to attain. But the subtle and intelligent laws that control human life are not to be so easily imposed upon, and we can never gain the end in view by simply persuading our desires to lie quiet for a time with the promise of indulgence later on. Thus it is very clear that that ancient recipe is open only to the man for whom the goal has lost its value, so that he who had all material wealth within easy reach would have no possible inducement to take possession of it.

The action of the curious principle involved is plainly obvious even on the low level of a commercial application. A man of business, wholly indifferent as to the result of his ventures, would occupy a standpoint far above his feverish competitors, now hurried onward by the mad delirium of an over-sanguine hope, now plunged into the depths of equally foundationless despair. His judgment would remain so cool and so deliberate as to decide unerringly between two closely balanced probabilities. His power to estimate the trend of markets and the course of values would appear almost miraculous to his excited rivals; and this simply for the reason that, having freed himself from the disturbing influence of desire, the clear discrimination of the Higher Mind would be the ruling power in his affairs. Even so, the author probably had far higher planes of human interest and activity in view when he set down the statements we are now considering.

In the sphere of the emotions we may trace the effect of this attitude of indifference every day. A man who is selfishly eager for love and sympathy is instinctively recognized as a vampire wherever he goes. Consciously or unconsciously he is always demanding that kind of psychic food preferred by his nature, and all with whom he comes in contact resent the selfish appeal and retire into their citadel in self-defense. That man on the other hand who freely radiates love and sympathy to all, careless of personal returns, is like the sun a universal benefactor and welcome in all companies. His mere approach calls forth a genial flow of kindly feeling which he returns with added force, since he is in his own person a living generator of such vital currents and not a mere absorber.

It often happens that the eager devotee of knowledge by his very impetuosity raises a barrier in the way of his attainment, while the man who quietly pursues his level course of universal helpfulness, will often light on unexpected truths while occupied with very commonplace affairs. To those intent on helping Nature, the grateful mother lifts her veil, and as to the inmost shrine, while selfish seekers tire themselves in vainly battering at the outer gate.

On a higher level still the action of the selfsame law may be observed. Religious — but none the less selfish — devotees who long to reach "that sweet and blessed country that eager hearts expect," will clamor for admission all in vain, because the very vehemence of their desire shows them as discontented with their lot, and hence rebellious in respect of that Good Law which places every man in that precise environment which is at once his destiny and his inevitable due. The man who glows with never-failing cheerfulness and sheds an influence of serene content already lives in Heaven, while discontented people even if admitted to that region (if it can be thought of as a point in space) would still be discontented.

Man is essentially divine and sits beside the secret spring from which all goodness flows, his deeper life inseparably blended with the heart-throbs of the teeming population of illimitable space, and with that cosmic energy that sparkles in the midnight sky feeding the veins of solar systems with exhaustless streams of life.

When man, forgetful of his high estate, stoops down to snatch some private gain, by his own act he makes himself an exile from his royal home and goes to swell the crowd of mendicants who wait expectant at the outer gate.

Thus everything of value is ours, yet so deceptive is the glamor of the separated life, that we suppose our welfare is promoted by acquiring and retaining private hoards of wealth. Appeal and exhortation are but insults to the man who grasps the situation as it stands. The sage has pointed out the way; this leads to the elimination of futile desires; the wise will scarcely hesitate as to the path to follow.

(From Sunrise magazine, December 1953; copyright © 1953 Theosophical University Press)

Each of us either adds to or diminishes the sum total of human happiness and human misery, 'not only of the present, but of every subsequent age of humanity.' — H. P. Blavatsky

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