Guiding Light: Raging Flames Of Desires

Guiding Light: Raging Flames Of Desires

Remember, while leaving the world, you'll have nothing. But the question is, do we ever think that one day we all shall have to go with nothing on our person?

Sumit PaulUpdated: Thursday, October 12, 2023, 08:11 PM IST
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We take nothing with us while we leave this world | Representational image

There's a parable from the great Iranian moralist Shaikh Saadi’s ‘Gulistaan’. A certain man earned a modest living as a carpenter. His wife and children were content with what he provided. But he was not so happy and craved more. He said to himself, “I’m too poor to be happy. If I possessed some gold, then I would be happy.” So, one morning, he dressed up and walked to the market. He went to a goldsmith's stall and stared at all the gold ornaments. Suddenly, he grabbed a gold ornament and ran off. The bystanders chased and caught him. He was thrown into prison.

A Sufi heard the news and went to see the carpenter in the prison. He asked the man, “Why did you steal that gold ornament in front of so many people?” The man replied, “At that moment, I didn't see the people. I just saw the gold.” Sufi then went to see the goldsmith and said, “That man is not evil. His heart made him blind; and like any blind person, he needs help. I beg you not to press charges against him.” The goldsmith agreed and the man was released. Sufi went to see him at his home every day for a month and taught him to be content with what he had.

Humans are never satisfied with what they’ve got. They want to jam on it. Desires have no end and longings have a long hand. And to think that craving for nothing is an attribute of a sage or a saint is erroneous. We all can budget our needs, colloquially called the “rationing of requirements” in popular economic parlance. The Central Asian mystic Jami broke his fast during the month of Ramzaan. He was eating a few dates. Seeing him eat dates and nothing else, one man asked him, “Don’t you feel hungry after the day-long fast?” Jami replied. “I've hunger for god, not for food or anything so quotidian.”

We must put an end to this undesirable instinct to amass and accumulate. Because, the impulse increases to a wish, the wish to a desire, and the desire to an uncontrollable longing. Sanskrit poet Bhaas said, “Icchha, abheepsa, lipsa, sarva Sursa mukham sadrishya” (Desires, longings, and lust are like the wide-open mouth of demon Sursa in Ramayan; who swallowed everything). How much do we need to live with contentment? Remember, while leaving the world, you'll have nothing. But the question is, do we ever think that one day we all shall have to go with nothing on our person?

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