Question 120: The management of tendencies, desires

floats on waterYoung Rama asks Sri Vasishtha about tendencies and desires that arise in the mind – usually unbidden. There are also intentions that arise from desires generated by this world of illusion. The sage instructs young Rama on attaining desirelessness.


anatma: unreal; opposite of Atma
anatma: different from the soul
anatma: not the spirit soul

moksha: liberation, for salvation, and of liberation, liberation from material bondage

prarabdha: destiny; store of karma selected for exhaustion in the present life

sankalpa – mental conclusions, intentions

vairagya: detachment

vasana: tendencies or desires
nirvasana desirelessness

vichar Hin. vichara San. m. deliberation, thought, reflection, pondering; discrimination, examination, self-enquiry: ‘Who am I?’


Question 120: Sir, if everything is an illusion, why is vasana (desire or latent tendency) aroused?

Answer: Ramji, tendencies or desires (vasanas) arise owing to the illusion. Therefore, you must abandon vasana so that your illusions vanish. The wise do not have the non-existent tendencies or desires (vasana) of the non-existent world. The ignorant, however, experience the non-existent world with tendencies or desires, and, therefore, they accept the world as real. According to the faith of a perfect, wise person, nothing exists except Atma. It is because of one’s ideation that the illusory universe is perceived. In truth, the individual soul – the Atma – is established in itself and it is always pure, even, non-dual and the self within you.

Ramji, you are neither a doer nor a non-doer. Both the words are used on account of the attitude of duality. Abandon both these false ideas and be stabilised in your true state. Accept the actions occurring naturally before you. Abandon your ego and give up the idea of being a doer or a consumer. All these objects are unreal like a magician’s show and it is vain to depend on these. The tendencies or desires (vasana) appearing as ideation in the mind is the cause of ignorance.

Ramji, ignorance, too, is non-existent, even though it is perceived in diverse objects and forms due to ideation (sankalpa). It creates the vast illusion because of the forgetfulness of Atma. As long as there is love for illusory gratifications, ignorance continues to increase. But when disinterest for gratifications is developed and these are abjured, ignorance is destroyed. Sinful deeds increase with the desire for gratification. When disinterest and renunciation arise and there is forgetfulness of pleasures, bliss is attained. Therefore, abandon tendencies or desires (vasana) with the force of self-enquiry and disinterest so that you may achieve the supreme bliss. Consider all ideas, except of Atma, to be unreal and illusory, and abandon them, so that you may attain the supreme bliss. Just as after seeing a dreadful dream, a individual is frightened in his waking state, so also does an individual suffer on the remembrance of the universe on account of ignorance.

Ignorance is very powerful and it creates and dissolves the three planes (physical, subtle, causal) in an instant. The conviction of the real in the unreal and of the unreal in the real is the result of ignorance. Vasana (tendencies or desires) is another name for ignorance. The perception of a long time within a short duration and vice versa is the result of ignorance. Even the conviction of Atma in non-soul and of non-soul in Atma is the result of ignorance. Vasana (tendencies or desires) is the cause of wanderings in the cycle of birth and death for ages. There is only one way of salvation from this, and that is a life of desirelessness (nirvasana). Accept without joy and sorrow what you get naturally according to your destiny (prarabdha) and do not create anything with your desires or intentions. When you practise awareness of the Atma for a long time, you will attain desirelessness and enjoy bliss.


floats on water
Desirelessness is like the lotus – with its roots in the mud – it floats on the water, undisturbed by water and mud, both.
Work done with no concern or desire for the profit therefrom, purely out of love or from a sense of duty, is yoga. Such yoga destroys the animal nature of man and transforms him into a divine being. Serve others, visualising them as kindred Atmas. That will help one to progress; it will save one from sliding down from the spiritual stage attained. Service (Seva) is far more salutary than even vows and worship (Puja). Service disintegrates the selfishness latent in you; it opens the heart wide; it makes the heart blossom.

So, work done with no desire is the supremest ideal for man and when the mansion of his life is built on that foundation, through the subtle influence of this basis of Nishkama Seva (selfless service), virtues will gather unto him. Service must be the outer expression of inner goodness. And as one undertakes seva more and more, one’s consciousness expands and deepens and one’s Atmic reality is more clearly known.

This ideal of seva and the urge to practise it, form the very heart of education. Pure Love, its chief manifestation – that is education. Nothing else can be. God loves those who do good to mankind as His dear children. They are ideal brothers for their countrymen. They deserve and achieve the awareness of the Atma.


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”