Fear and Desire

The more we Desire, the greater the Fear that those desires will remain unfulfilled.

“Africa Rising” by Mark Abouzeid. Model: Alex.

Every Monday night, Sophie and I host a yoga and mindfulness meditation group in our home. This week, the discourse on Fear and Desire provoked confusion, disbelief and a long discussion. The role of Fear was never in question but many could not or would not accept that Desire is as dangerous and destructive as Fear.

If you say, “I want to be loved,” it’s the same thing as saying “I’m afraid I won’t be loved.” If you say, “I want to have someone around me,” it’s the same as saying “I’m afraid of being alone.”

The truth is that fear and desire are at the root of each other. Rather, than leading us to fulfillment, desires take us away from it. The more desires we have, the greater the fear that those desires will be unfulfilled.

We desire good health and vigor; we fear disease. We desire a loving relationship; we fear loneliness.

If you say, ‘I want to live’ it’s the same as saying ‘I’m afraid I will die’?

To accept this concept, we first have to understand the difference between needs and desires. A need is something that is required to survive. What we truly need for survival is oxygen, water, food, sleep and the right temperature. On the other hand, the things we desire — a nice house, a new car, a loving partner and a great job, are not needed to sustain our bodies.

For example, you may want a new coat. If you have no other coat and winter is coming, you may actually need a new coat, however, if you already have three coats in your closet, you desire the new one because it’s the latest fashion. You want to impress people and because you think people will like you. Why do you want them to like you? So there will be someone around to take care of you.

The fundamental problem? Desires cannot be fulfilled.

In the case of the new winter coat, you may buy it and it might seem that your desire has been fulfilled. But since every desire is attached to an earlier, unfulfilled desire, buying the coat is not enough. After about a week, you get used to your new coat and then that energy will be focused on desiring something else. “I need some new boots to go with my new coat.” You’re still not complete; you’re still not satisfied. You’re still frustrated. The program in your head still says, “I need; I desire; I must have,” but no matter how many desires you fulfill, you will always feel empty.

Rather, than adding to our sense of fulfillment, desire creates longing, fear and dissatisfaction.