Friday, January 12, 2007

Those Desires That Drive US

by Shaun Michael Samaroo
Why do people do the things they do? Why do you make the choices you make? Desires. Desires fuel the most powerful driving force that propels people towards their action. Our desires move us like engines move machines.
Under the commanding hand of our desires, we become like robots, unable to exercise our free will. Desires burn in our beings like flames that bring us the pleasure of warmth on a cold dark night.
Just like a baby lying unprotected in a wintercold brickroom, people live in this world as lost souls - looking for a harbour to find shelter from the storms of this daily existence. And we find solace in satisfying our desires. We feel a sense of belonging if we give in to these cravings, our desires.
Our desires form the innermost, deepest force that defines how we live.
How do desires take root in us? See, as a person, I am like a tree that bears certain fruits. These fruits comprise my thoughts, my words, my actions. My fruits affect the people around me, the way I shape my space, my environment. So my innermost desires become important because I play a significant role in the lives of others - family, friends, my community. If my desires dictate how I live and influence others, then these inner forces deep within me become of utmost importance.
Contemporary education emphasises the development and deliberate shaping of brain-power. Neuro-training embraces a huge global social-engineering service that pervades the mass media and education industry. The global education system and world pop culture play key roles in shaping the neural behaviour of people.
All this is done through language. And we cannot discount the deep impact language has on us. Language more than anything shapes our desires.
Out of our dependency on language we develop our connotations and presuppositions. Connotation is the name given to the real impact that words have on us. Words develop in us certain emotional responses in our sub-conscious selves. The average human being lives emotionally, under the influence of these connotation values of words.
Deeper than connotation, people respond to life based on their presuppositions.
Presupposition is the unconscious assumptions I make about the world around me. A large part of my connotation value system and my presupposition value system - those values deep in my brain-mapping that cause me to react in a particular way - come from my experiences, the impact of my world on my physical and soul senses. I react and respond by reflex action to my world. And what causes my reflex response or reaction? My desires.
It is these connotation and presupposition values that shape my desires. If a person can be compared to a massive tree with flowing green branches bearing all kinds of fruit, then the roots would be those desires. And the nurturing of those desires, the watering and feeding and sunlight fuelling the growth of those desires, would be the connotation and presupposition value system.
The fruits of my life burst out of this wellspring of desires that churn almost uncontrolled in my soul.
So it becomes necessary to first of all recognize that these values fuel certain desires in me. Then I can do either of two things: I can work to change the connotation and presupposition values in me that fuel these desires, or I can channel the existing desires into ways that would bear fruits that are wholesome, good and enjoyable to everyone who comes into contact with me.
If the desires in me bear bad fruit, then I need to change where I am planted. I cannot remain planted in a ground that feeds me those bad values.
So my external environment becomes important to my internal health. If I am in the wrong space, bombarded with wrong language, then I am feeding my brain and my soul wrong values, and these shape my desires. And when my desires take control of me, I am a lost soul, drifting out at sea with no map or compass. Though I know that I am lost, and I want to find a safe harbour, I nevertheless drift into dark ugly storms. Yet the desire to be lost in the raging excitement of the storm pumps my blood with adrenalin, and I gleefully embrace this destructive force.
This is what desires do to us: push us on into the anticipation of pleasure. Desires fuel in us the raging flame of warm pleasure, flooding our groins with warm blood, our heart bursting with excitement and our brain numb from the rush.
How prone is this generation to such an existence, constant in its quest for 'highs'. People seek pleasure, highs, surging excitement - an electric lifestyle.
Desires command us to live for fantasy wants. We want to know the pleasure of satisfaction. That in itself, we presuppose, is a worthy end to our experiences.But, really, man should live for his needs. Then life on this earth would be peaceful, rich, rewarding, joyous and worthwhile. Our needs, according to the great economist Adam Smith, are simple: food, water, shelter, air to breathe, development of the mind and a little entertaining (to paraphrase the great man).
The ideas that people pick up from their peers influence their mindsets, their worldviews and their presuppositions. These ideas form the building blocks of our desires. So it seems to me that our desires can be re-designed and re-created and re-shaped and re-formed.
How do we re-design our desires? Suppose I was born in the wrong society, with the wrong ideas, with people who influence me by depositing in me wrong desires, can I jump out of this prison? I believe I can.
We can re-design our desires through the renewal of our minds, by filling our thoughts with noble, right and good, wholesome thoughts. But who decides the quality of thoughts? What's my measuring rod for what is good, noble and wholesome? I believe that I need to examine history and decide what has proven itself good and wholesome over time.
In my case, I did this examination and decided that the Judeo-Christian historical lifestyle has proven to be the most noble, good and wholesome life any human being can live today.
Many other religions aspire to this task of re-shaping mass desire, by changing individual desire, one at a time. But I do not think that doctrine, or religious dogma, or blind obedience to tradition and ritual can fill a person with right desires. Instead, desires may become extreme and dangerous.
So I have learned to question my own desires, to analyse why I do the things I do. And I have realized that now all I want is to live in a quiet little place in a humble home with my loving family and pass my days reading and writing under a soft breeze in the warm sun with lots of trees around. This, I believe, is God's desire for us when He created our race. Me living like this would see my life, that big green tree, become fruitful and not barren, become a living shade for those seeking shelter, become a hand of comfort and a voice of joyous words to the people of my world.
Full copyright Shaun Michael Samaroo 2006