On a cultural level, most social conditioning, focuses on either repressing desires or permitting only a certain strain of desires. All this results in distorted desires and completely maladaptive emotions like fear, shame, and guilt. As an organism advances in intelligence, so, too, does its desires. There are the basic desires of the body for food, clothing, shelter, sex, and social relationships. Then at a mental level, there are desires for more knowledge, creating art, appreciating music, and so on.
Then on an emotional level, there are desires for love, friendship, and happiness. Finally, on a spiritual level, there is the desire for discovering the meaning of life and exploring the possibility of a higher consciousness. It is the expression of all these desires that have created civilization as we know it today, and as these desires are allowed to expand, we will start to create even more refined and sophisticated expressions of ourselves. However, the outflow and expression of these desires are often resisted, which results in a distorted view of things, conflicting and agitating emotions, and behavioral outbursts that are destructive. What life seeks to do is express itself through desires. What various societies since the beginning of time appear to be doing is working to manipulate and control individual self-expression in favor of a collective agenda.
This results in resistance to the natural expression of desire, and these distortions create psychological aberrations, both mental and emotional. It has never been the desire of humanity to destroy itself, but because of the distortion of desires, this force has magnified to such an extent that the possibility now exists. On an extreme scale, this amalgamation of repressed desires, has resulted in individuals choosing suicide and homicide and cultures choosing some form of genocide.
This is not how nature intended desire to be used; it is an aberration of desire, where desire turns in on itself and becomes destructive. When the life force is resisted it becomes anti-life. A fallacy has often been spread by teachers and students of Eastern religions that desire is something to be repressed if one hopes to advance on the spiritual path. In Western religions, the tendency has been to try and channel the desires into certain chosen ideals.
Apart from the obvious point that it is itself a desire to be spiritually aware, this idea of repressing or selecting only favorable desires appears to have many other illogical features. While it is possibly true that our attachments and aversions, the desire for things and the desire to avoid things, can cloud our vision of cosmic meaning and distract us from the purpose of probing our inner understanding of life, it is not true that desire itself is our enemy. Everything that exists desires something because this is it's expansive drive. The instinct of a primitive life form, like an amoeba, is desire.
As life forms become more advanced, desires, too, multiply. In all animals, every animal has a strong desire to preserve itself. In human beings, a completely new hierarchy begins, and desires range from basic biological necessities to self-actualization.
There is a vital force in all of consciousness to express itself in a larger way, an expansive force, that over time evolves species. The consciousness behind life is seeking to express itself in larger ways through life forms. In human beings desires that have been thwarted result in all sorts of aberrations, like apathy, grief, fear, lust, anger, and pride. All these are, in fact, expressions of desires that have not been allowed to run their full course. They are desires that have been inhibited by individual and collective forces of will. In fact, one can even offer an argument that all psychological and sociological problems arise from distorted desires, desires that have turned in on themselves like ingrown toenails.
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