Icca Shakti: the power of desire

Everywhere we turn, advertisements are working to convince us that a product will finally satisfy our desire… until the next one. In a world where empty promises are as plentiful as drops in the ocean, many of us have become disenchanted with quick fixes and seek more meaning for our lives.

As we delve into seeking for this meaning, many teachers caution us to beware our desires. This caution makes sense when we see the illness of the world caused by greed and thoughtlessness. But trying to ignore, suppress, or quell desire is not the answer either. Leaving aside the question of if it is even possible to transcend desire, it also serves a valuable purpose.

Without desire, there is no action. What makes us get out of bed in the morning? What gives us the discipline to meditate or practice yoga? Desire calls our attention and spurs us to action. Desire is what brings us to life.

Even the most shallow desires (a fast car, fame, sweet foods) point to deeper desires (freedom, recognition of our light, the feeling of being fully alive). Instead of moving mindlessly towards our shallow desires, if we practice inquiry and discover what deeper desire is behind it, we will be pulled towards our true nature. We can then begin to fill the emptiness that spurred desire with what our heart truly longs for: a connection with the divine, with our true nature.

This is how my teachers describe the beginning of life: In the beginning there was one energy. This one energy was everything. Supremely powerful and completely free, there was nothing that this energy could not do. However, being everything, it could not experience anything. There arose a longing within this one energy to experience itself. When the longing grew strong enough, the one energy stepped down into many energies and created the existence we experience. It became you and me and all that we see. Through us, this one energy is now able to fulfill its’ longing for experience.

In this story, desire itself is the “big bang” of creation. And so it is in our lives. As a part of the one energy that created everything, it is our birthright and dharma (sacred duty) to create. Each of us, as a unique and imperfect piece of that creation, will create in our own way. When we follow our passions into living fully, we are living with intention.

The word intention implies the strength of icca (will) but it is tempered by jnana (knowledge). These together lead to kriya – specific thoughtful action. Intention is patient and flexible. A clarity of purpose allows us to accept the world as it is. Rather than resisting, we use what is as a springboard for what’s next.

When we create intention, it becomes the backdrop for our lives. All the small decisions we make every day are measured against this intention. In fact, every action we take can be infused with meaning. To act with purpose, no matter how small the action may seem is a quietly powerful practice. Through it, we awaken to the sacred in the every day and our own power to create meaning for our lives.

2 Comments

  1. This is a beautiful essay on the depth and heart of desire.
    Everything has a light and a shadow side, and this is a rich interpretation of the value and importance of desire as spiritual path.
    Another buzz word that gets alot of bad press is “ego”,
    which can be harnessed for mindfulness or mindlessness depending on our orientation.
    It would be interesting to see a reading from you on this subject too.

  2. Thanks Heidi! I will put that on my list of possible blog topics. I am creating a list of ideas in the hopes that not having to come up with the ideas and write the post at the same time will make it easier to post more frequently. All suggestions are very much appreciated.

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