Guiding Light: Managing desires

One simple, straightforward way of managing desires is to live by our priorities rather than desires. Often we say – What is your priority at work? We mean the thing that we will do first. I am not using it in that sense. I’m defining a priority as the need behind the desire. Like, if a young man comes and tells me ‘Swamiji, I’m trying to get a job.’ I ask him, ‘Why do you want a job?’. He says, ‘…because I want money’. I say, ‘Why do you need a job for money? You could open a pan bidi shop or a vada pav stall. One of the owners of a vada pav stall had told me that before the pandemic he used to make 10,000 rupees a day. So, why don’t you open up a vada pav stall because what you want is money?’ The young man hesitatingly says, ‘No, there is no social standing in that.’ Let’s examine this.

The stated desire is a job. But, the need behind the job is financial independence, as well as social status. Now, this is a priority. So, when you’re living by your priorities, even if you don’t get that job, that desire for the job, remains unfulfilled, you can still fulfill the priorities of financial independence, and social standing. This is possible by another job or being an entrepreneur or a consultant or other ways.

Similarly, if a particular relationship does not work out nobody becomes a ‘Devdas’ in today’s world, and swears off love. Why? Because the need behind the desire is physical and emotional companionship. So, if it doesn’t work out with one person you could learn your lessons and work it out with somebody else. So, in this way, your desires can be managed by living a life of priorities. You could have a hundred desires but behind the hundred desires are half a dozen priorities. A hundred desires cannot be fulfilled but half a dozen priorities, definitely can be fulfilled. So, the most important way of managing desires, is to understand the underlying priority, and work towards fulfilling that.

(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at

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