The workshop aimed to understand our desires and where they come from, their purpose in the evolutionary scheme, and eventually transform them into their psychic counterpart – aspiration.
The first session was conducted by Dr. Monica Gulati on Burning in Desires - a Step to Intense Aspiration. Existence, she stated, was created from a state of rest, from inertia, from Inconscience. This state is heavy and dull and the only force that can move it is that of desire. So desire does have a place in the scheme of things. It was required to move from inconscient states to more conscient ones, over a period of time. The desire needs to fulfil itself and when that doesn't happen, pain and suffering are the results. This is where the need to avoid suffering and therefore, to need to manage and deal with the desires that come in. The mind goes through a beautiful experience of desire fulfilment and wants to repeat the experience for the sheer pleasure of it, it gets attached to the fleeting pleasure. This attachment brings nothing but pain because if the experience is not repeated it craves for it more and more. This craving is suffering. The true purpose of the desire was to shake one from the comfort zone, to motivate one to take the action, but not get attached to the fruits of the action. The attachment to the result of the action is suffering. The greater the intensity of desire, the greater the pain and suffering.
The second session was conducted by Dr. Yogesh Mohan on The Journey from Desire to Aspiration. It was a practical and meditative session, which urged us to check and observe the motive of our desires when they arise. The need for inner silence and a quiet mind was reiterated for it is only in this silence that we can fully observe the play of vibrations within ourselves. Any desire, any aspiration which originates from any part of the being we make it a habit of bringing that in front of the Divine Presence. Then the desire and the aspiration get purified and you will know the distinction between a desire which emerges from the outer being or aspiration which emerges from the deeper psychic. By concentrating more and more totally and completely on the Divine. It can't be done in a day. One must be vigilant for years. One must will it.
The third session was conducted by Dr. Alok Pandey on The Origin and Transmutation of Desire. Dr. Alok emphasised that throwing away desires isn't possible, it is a very difficult process, and that is why the desires should be transformed. The right course is from the desire to aspiration, transmutation of desires to aspiration. From desire what we are seeking is Delight. That is only possible when one aspires for the Infinite, the Divine.
The fourth session, working through our Desires with James Anderson, was practical and experiential. The speaker emphasised the need to transform our nature. And why would we want to do it? Because we have suffered enough from our desires. The only way to work on our desires in an integral manner is by bringing forth the psychic consciousness in us. Because the psychic consciousness alone is capable of looking at the whole and of simultaneously addressing every detail. First, we have to separate and differentiate different parts of our consciousness, get familiar with the true consciousness and different parts of other consciousness like body consciousness, vital consciousness, mental consciousness, we have to disentangle the psychic consciousness so that it stands in front so that it can directly look at the desires and indeed every other movement emanating from our nature. It keeps its station above the play of Nature.
The fifth session was held on Understanding Desires in terms of Consciousness with Dr. Soumitra Basu. All things that were there in the Superconscience became their polar opposites in the Inconscience. The light became darkness, knowledge became ignorance, life became death, joy became suffering. Similarly, the aspiration to progress which is not linked to ego became a movement of desire which is linked to the ego. Desire is that which gives you an initial motivation to progress from the state of chaos. He suggested practice to transform the desire to aspiration – to concentrate on the psychic being which is the Beyond-ego principle. Rely on the Grace that comes from the above. Meditate to bring down the Light from top of the head to the base of the spine and even below to the inconscient areas, to the darkness.
The sixth session was conducted by Dr. Debabrata Sahani on Transforming Desires. The session was marked by very practical advice that one can put in practice in the smallest details of day-to-day life activities, like eating, breathing, sleeping, outer movement, etc… To become aware of one's body, posture, stomach, movements. Eating food is a desire, make it conscious and even further, make it an offering. It is transformed. Eating then becomes a beautiful activity, a prayer. It becomes an offering to the Divine. The enlightenment happens in small steps, which we have to make daily. Eating, breathing, sitting (posture), moving, are the small areas. Make these conscious, the basic physical desires, to begin with.
Another beautiful Gita lesson he touched upon was as below:
So many times our desires have not been fulfilled and we have managed, there is a power within you that will manage. Be conscious of that. Your life is still going to be okay. Even if my desires are fulfilled, I will carry on. I will move on because I have done it many times. Once you become conscious of that capacity within you then you have really transformed your desire.
“What a wonderful workshop to end the year and to start the New Year! Six illuminating speakers each brought a different and profound perspective to this very important and pertinent topic, something that comes up every day in our lives. The common thread through it all is the importance of connecting with our deeper Consciousness, living within, and opening oneself more and more to the Divine Grace. Also, as James very astutely said, dealing with desire integrally, for desire does not stand on its own.
James and Dr. Yogesh both had deeply experiential sessions which were very powerful, Dr. Basu was so clear and engaging in shedding light on this very complex topic and the practical aspects of Dr Alok, Debu and Monica’s talks were all immensely helpful for me.”
“This whole workshop helped me really understand Sri Aurobindo’s statement “Desire was the helper; Desire is the bar.” As well as another of Sri Aurobindo’s statements that Dr. Basu mentioned: “Desire is at once the motive of our actions, our lever of accomplishment and the bane of our existence.”
These sessions have given me much inspiration to observe myself non-judgmentally, offer everything to the Inner Fire of Purification and pray to The Mother to help me each step of the way…
As always, much gratitude to all of you for your generous sharing.”
“The workshop 'shouted out' to me as soon as I received the email from Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham ashram in north California. I had been experiencing a great deal of mental turmoil mostly related to how I walk in relationship to others. My thought processes kept me in reaction mode and also ran down myriad paths of judgement both of self and others. My mental mind was in control.....again....given that life was giving me major challenges.”
What have I learned so far from these sessions? To once again strengthen my witness self to observe where my thoughts take me and to see how distorted are their messages.”
“The variety of speakers and the useful information presented by the presenters/leaders. Every class is useful and relevant. Every speaker brought their info and an experience to us. I will register for these classes. It is so helpful on my journey - so very helpful.“
“All sessions offered a different perspective and how to approach and deepen our practice.”
“Everything about the sessions was brilliant.”