Embracing Desire

Audio meditation: The Temple of Desire

Our word desire is probably

from Latin desiderare "long for, wish for; demand, expect," original sense perhaps "await what the stars will bring," from the phrase de sidere "from the stars," from sidus (genitive sideris) "heavenly body, star, constellation"

- Etymology Online

If we look at these images, we can derive these associations: Follow your stars. Know the stars that guide you. See them. Feel them. Feel your feet on the ground and know your directions.

Another etymology of desire is from the same root, siderarex "to observe attentively."

The American Heritage on de·sire

1. To wish or long for; want: a reporter who desires an interview; a teen who desires to travel.
2. To want to have sex with (another person).
3. To express a wish for; request.
a. The feeling of wanting to have something or wishing that something will happen.
b. An instance of this feeling: She had a lifelong desire to visit China.
2. Sexual appetite; passion.
3. An object of such feeling or passion: A quiet evening with you is my only desire.
4. Archaic A request or petition.
[Middle English desiren, from Old French desirer, from Latin dēsīderāre, to observe or feel the absence of, miss, desire : dē-, de- + , -sīderāre (as in cōnsīderāre, to observe attentively, contemplate; see CONSIDER).]
Synonyms: desire, covet, crave, want, wish
These verbs mean to have a strong longing for: desire peace; coveted the new car; craving fame and fortune; wanted a drink of water; wished that she had gone to the beach.
DESIRE in The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Desire and Motor Imagery––how are they related?

When we conceive of a desire, and do not instantly act it out, then we are in the realm of rehearsal––visualizing, feeling the desire and lining up the actions to fulfill it or sublimate it. Mostly, we have to line up a sequence of actions to fulfill a desire.


"Just imagining a workout can make you stronger," by Jim Davies writing for Nautilus

“There is now compelling evidence that motor imagery promotes motor learning.” When you imagine exercising, your breath and heart rate actually increase. Mental practice is one of the few effective performance enhancing activities. For example, doctors who mentally practice before engaging in a virtual-reality surgery outperform those who do not. One study, by Rutgers psychologist Robert Woolfolk, and colleagues, had people simply imagine putting a golf ball into the hole before they took their shot. The people who imagined making it had 30.4 percent more successful putts than those who did not.

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

There is now compelling evidence that motor imagery (MI) promotes motor learning. While MI has been shown to influence the early stages of the learning process, recent data revealed that sleep also contributes to the consolidation of the memory trace. How such “online” and “offline” processes take place and how they interact to impact the neural underpinnings of movements has received little attention. The aim of the present review is twofold: (i) providing an overview of recent applied and fundamental studies investigating the effects of MI practice (MIP) on motor learning; and (ii) detangling applied and fundamental findings in support of a sleep contribution to motor consolidation after MIP. We conclude with an integrative approach of online and offline learning resulting from intense MIP in healthy participants, and underline research avenues in the motor learning/clinical domains.

Keywords: movement imagery, dynamic imagery, motor consolidation, cerebral plasticity, mental processes, sleep, motor learning


Motor imagery (MI) is the mental representation of an action without engaging its actual execution. MI practice (MIP) refers to the repetitive use of MI to improve performance (Jackson et al., 2001).


A review essay on visualization in sports.

The idea of visualizing, or mentally rehearsing, before an event is certainly not new. Some coaches even go as far as saying that sports are 90% mental and only 10% physical, and it is no secret that seasoned athletes already employ mental techniques. World champion golfer Jack Nicklaus quoted “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head”. Yet scientists studying visualisation research in emerging fields such as sports psychology are still exploring how exactly mental practice can affect physical performance.

Primal Desires Kama

Pasted Graphic 2

Pasted Graphic

Pasted Graphic 1

Audio meditation, The Temple of Desire and Sutra 74

Dropbox, Temple of Desire

Sutra 73 desire leaps

A Meditation On Desire From The Radiance Sutras

A New Version of The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

The English word desire means: “To want something very strongly; to long for; to crave,” and it comes from the Latin phrase de sidere, “from the stars.” Sideris is a “heavenly body, star, constellation.” Desire is from the heavens, and to follow your desire is to follow your star.

We all have a dozen or more desire-stars to follow, our own personal constellation. These may include: friendship, exercise, food, sex, play and power. Desires often come as a sequence – we want to eat good food, in a great place, while feeling love and laughing with our friends. It takes skill to line up a day so that even some of our desires can be fulfilled. When we apply ourselves to this skill, we are practicing a Yoga of desire, kamayoga, (kama = desire), and flowing through kamakrama (krama = ordered sequences).

Embracing desire is intense and challenging. The ultimate source of desire is the soul’s impulse to express itself in the world. That doesn’t go away. What do we do with ourselves when a particular desire is not being fulfilled? Where does the energy go? Misplaced energy can be the source of compulsions and addictions. When we feel we can’t express our energies, or we don’t know how to do so, we get into trouble. Overeating, for example, can come from a frustrated craving for love, acknowledgement, comfort or solace.

Yoga offers many practices for investigating, shaping, redirecting, and delighting in the flow of desire. In The Radiance Sutras, a translation of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, Shiva sings of one such technique.

Just as a desire leaps up,
And you perceive the flash,
The sparkle of the urge,
Quit from its play,
And maintain awareness
In that clear and shining place
From which all desire springs.

- Sutra 73

jhagitīcchām samutpannām avalokya śamam nayet
yata eva samudbhūtā tatas tatraiva līyate

Inserting word boundaries, giving the letters a haircut to remove the diacriticals - (ś) - then looking at the individual terms in the superb Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English dictionary (created to help Christian missionaries convert the heathen Hindoos), we see:

jhagit – a sparkle, flash; ichcham – desire, wish, hankering, longing, craving, urge, will; samutpatati – rise, ascend, spring up; avalokana – observe, glance, view, see; shamam – equanimity, tranquility, to end; nayet – brings, carry; yata eva – verily, wherever; samudbhuta – arising, springing up; tata-tatraiva – there! (put your attention) there!; leyate – become absorbed.

“When a desire arises in you, let it flow. Sense the sparkle and flash as the desire springs up. Put your whole attention into that flashing energy. Seeing desire in this way brings tranquility and equanimity. As you absorb the energy of the desire, you glow with satisfaction.”

Give the desire space to live in your inner world before you go for it in the outer world. The technique here is to savor the energy of desire and use it as you would a mantra, a focus for meditation. Desires flow, like an electric current – let that flow of juice nurture and energize you. Imbibe the sparkle, dissolve, transcend with that desire and be fulfilled. “Relax, don’t do it, when you want to go to it.” (Thanks, Frankie Goes to Hollywood.)

When I relax into a desire and investigate it, a world of opportunities opens. In a heartbeat, I can change directions, take that energy and do something else. I can go ahead and go to it, with more power behind my action. I can wait for a better opportunity to live the desire, and I can also reshape it, turn the volume down or up so that it fits my life.

Desires pop up quickly and you can do this technique in the space of two breaths, perhaps ten seconds.

The next time you become aware of a desire, inquire, “What do I really want? What am I really craving when the picture in my head of what I want is a beer, a joint, sex, another slice of chocolate coconut cake or to go shopping?” By staying closer to the current of desire, you can steer your life force into healthier directions. This kama Yoga allows the body to be illuminated by the sparkle of desire, even those that are not manifest in the outer world yet.

Notice that this practice is not nirodha, defined in Sanskrit as “confinement, locking up, imprisonment, restraint, check, control, suppression, destruction.” You can look up the definition of nirodha here, and here, in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit- Dictionary.

Yoga is often associated with nirodha, possibly because for the past several thousand years most of the historical or mythical yogis, the yogis who were prolific writers, were renouncers – their path was to renounce desire. They took vows of celibacy and poverty, and often wandered around the countryside naked, covered in the ashes of cow dung, stoned on hash.

The path of a householder yogi – with a job, friends, and a family – is very different from that of a renouncer. We have to continually keep track of our desires, work with them, put some into play and put others aside. No one, no matter how much they’ve got it together, can live all their desires everyday, so some cravings have to remain a sparkle on the screen of our inner vision. We are always praying, “God grant me the courage to live the desires I can, the serenity to let go of the desires I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Pasted Graphic 3

Blake: Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.

Full quote: “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling.
And being restrain'd it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.”

Desire-Related verses in the Radiance Sutras

Devi's banter: verse 22 and 23 from the beginning. Also her whole impetus.
Sutra 38 73 74 75 78 82

Desire Words in Sanskrit - there are more than 700, here are a few



wished, desired
liked, beloved
reverenced, respected
a lover, a husband



wish, desire, longing, desire for, longing after (gen. dat., or loc.), love, affection, object of desire or of love or of pleasure RV.
pleasure, enjoyment
love, especially sexual love or sensuality
Love or Desire personified AV. ix, xii, xix (cf. RV. x, 129, 4) VS. PārGṛ.
N. of the god of love AV. iii. 25, 1 MBh. Lalit.
N. of agni SV. ii, 8, 2, 19, 3 AV. TS. KātyṠr. ṠāṅkhṠr.
a stake in gambling Nār. xvi, 9
a species of mango tree (= mahā-rāja-cūta) L.
N. of a metre consisting of four lines of two long syllables each
a particular form of temple Hcat.
object of desire L.
semen virile L.



one who has attained an end or object or has accomplished a purpose or desire, successful, satisfied, contented

whole body meditations cover

Crossing Thresholds

We encounter a threshold whenever we do more of something than we are used to. In daily life, there are many thresholds we come up against: how hard can we work, how many things can we mutitask, how much responsibility can we handle. Thresholds are not always unpleasant, they can be intensely pleasurable: how much love can you feel, how much joy can you stand, how much gratitude can you tolerate. And even when love is on the other side, the threshold is terrifying in some way. Meditation is very much like falling in love with life, and it has all the attendant intensifications of your senses and many thresholds to cross.

In mythic imagery, there are Threshold Guardians, fierce entities that make vast amounts of noise or rattle their weapons threateningly when we cross into their turf. They have to be outsmarted or dealt with somehow if you are to proceed. These threshold guardians present themselves as obstacles, but when you accept them, a way can be found around or through them. Whenever your leave your familiar territory and enter unknown terrain, there are various warning signs and signals. The signs say some version of VERBOTEN or TABOO or and the signals go AH-OOO-GAH or RING RING RING. They are asking you, “Are you sure you really want to cross this line?”

In this chapter, I am giving the name Taboo to some of these Threshold Guardians.

In our Quest for healing, often we have to push through a threshold and do what we don’t like to do – we may have to take some time off, take a vacation, or share with a friend that we feel like a failure even though we look successful. Everyone can laugh at the other’s person’s threshold, but some people are very afraid of what would happen if they took a vacation. If there is a medical problem, we may have to go see a doctor, confess how much we hurt, let ourselves be probed, submit to being tested, read about illnesses, make decisions about which treatment is less horrible, join support groups, take medications. Each one of activities is uncomfortable in its own way, and constitutes a Threshold. Most people I know don’t like to do these things unless they really, really have to.
Meditation is attention, and we start at the threshold of inner and outer, which we know. We then plunge into ourselves, into territory which is ourselves but feels unknown. Our bodily sensations become intense in unusual ways, and that is a Threshold. Thoughts zoom everywhere when we release them from control, and this is a different Threshold. Because of this, breaking taboos makes for richly textured attention. Once you get used to it, it’s quite entertaining.

For example, in meditation you will find yourself resting more deeply than you do in sleep, and yet being conscious and enjoying it. This is going across several thresholds, because you are extending the range of your rest and the range of your attention. You will be paying conscious attention to things that usually only occur in your body during sleep.
In meditation we deal with things by going right through them. In myths there is often a lot of sneaking around things, but in meditation if something comes up, just face it, whether it be a demon or an angel. You transcend by going directly through. If pain comes up, attention is called to the pain. Attention wants to go right into the heart of the pain. If noise comes up, attention goes right to the noise, inner or outer.

One more tip. Never blame yourself when you encounter the Taboos, or other Threshold Guardians in meditation. Their purpose is to warn you that you are leaving familiar territory – be alert! Watch where you are going! Take conscious charge of balancing your impulses! When you accept this, the noise of the Guardians is transformed into awakening energy you will need on your journey.
Some people have a taboo against self-care. Meditation is caring for yourself. To have meditation be self-care not self-abuse, you have to confront these taboos. Against rest, intimacy with the self. The body likes to meditate.

Although meditation is healing in a general way, it is more healing if you make it responsiveness to your needs, not an imposition.

A common taboo we all run up against is the Taboo Against Rest.

The Taboo Against Rest

Meditation brings us face to face with the Taboo Against Rest in several ways. When we meditate, we usually do it at times when we would ordinarily be up and active – early in the morning and before dinner. It is unusual to be sitting with the eyes closed at those times. Everyone else is running around, watching people being murdered on TV, or sitting in traffic. There may be voices, sensations, impulses saying, “What are you doing resting? You should be doing chores!”

Our jangly culture often denies the need for rest. It is a time sickness, an incessant hurrying, which manifests in overloaded schedules and a continual flogging of the self to do more. We are a work-oriented society, worshipping adrenaline, and being busier than thou is the epitome of virtue.

An incredibly successful businessman came to see me. He had stomach trouble and joint aches. He had a real facility for meditation. The same brilliance and instinctiveness that led him to be so good in business gave him powerful access to his inner world. But he would fall asleep, every time we sat together. When he woke up, he felt peaceful, but he had a big sleep deficit and no record, in his entire life, of taking naps. Not only did he not take rest breaks, he had always worked through lunch, ordering something like sandwiches delivered, and sitting at his desk. If they would go out, they would talk and strategize over food. His day was always an unbroken series of meetings. He never got through the obstacle of sleep, which would have required a big shift. His whole identity was built on pushing through. Previously, he did this to provide for his family, but they had all long since been taken care of.

I know people who have made it through the sleep deficit threshold. It seems to require about 20 hours extra sleep, over a two or three-week period. As one woman said, “I thought I was going to sleep forever. I fell asleep in every meditation and when I woke up half an hour later I couldn’t move. I was totally gone. But then I started feeling lighter all day. My face looked much more rested too. The dark circles under my eyes went away. After about a month, I stopped being so sleepy in meditation and I felt really good.”

Meditation is about the laziest thing you could ever do. You are sitting there making a science out of doing absolutely nothing. You can read all the Zen you want, but when it’s your body, and you are as idle as you can be, sometimes you run head on into the taboo against laziness or rest. It’s the Deadly Sin of Sloth.

Rest is one of the body’s most potent resources to accelerate healing. When we are resting, the body can give over its energies to repair. We rest every night in order to rejuvenate and recharge for the following day. Sometimes a good night’s sleep feels miraculous, because of the way we feel when we go to bed and how fresh we feel when we wake up in the morning. When we are sick, we often have the urge to sleep more, take naps, and doctors often tell us to rest.

During meditation we are conscious, fully awake, and sometimes superlatively awake, in a heightened state of awareness. So we are in a situation of restfulness with alertness, and every thought stands out. We are not anesthetized, as we would be if we were drinking alcohol or imbibing some other drug.

The body enters a state of rest much deeper than deep sleep, and it does so very quickly, and this in itself brings up several aspect of the taboo against rest. This is often the deepest rest you have ever gotten, and it feels incredibly luxurious, just over the top luxurious. And it is, literally, the laziest thing you can ever do. It is not physically possible, unless you know how to hibernate somehow, to be more restful than in meditation. You are quite literally doing as little work as possible. That is why the body is so restful. So a variation, “the Taboo Against Laziness” has to be faced.
Something you can do to help your meditation practice is to catch up on your sleep or at least reduce the amount of sleep deprivation you suffer from. Go to bed a little earlier, take naps, take little rest breaks during the day.

The Taboo Against Pleasure

Along with the Puritanical work ethic, many people also experience a taboo against simple bodily pleasure.

As you relax in meditation, you will experience pleasurable sensations of many kinds as your nerves and muscles melt into relaxation. This often feels like being massaged and drifting in and out of a luxurious sleep. Lying down or sitting when you are tired is one of the sweetest sensations there is, and in meditation you are awake to enjoy it. There is an entire world of sensations there, as rich as what gourmet wine tasters experience with wine. This world of sensation is as rich as art and music, infinite nuances of deliciousness. Sometimes you response, from somewhere in your brain, will be “No, stop, you can’t enjoy this. This can’t be right.” These sensations often will seem like they are “too much.” Also it feels very odd at first to be sitting in a chair one minute and the next you are suddenly very relaxed. Such luscious sensuality can feel like being seduced, and this is exactly what you want. You are being seduced by the life-giving energies flowing through your body. Learn to not resist this healing flow. Sensations are not a problem, simply enjoy them. They will change continuously anyway.

Human reaction time is less than a second, and in that second, you may find yourself trying to fend off your own sensations. If you just breathe with the sensations for a minute, they will come to feel normal, just the natural pleasure of existing. Gradually you will build up a greater tolerance for bliss.

On a daily basis, indulge in the myriad little pleasures you have available to you. Delight in several such pleasures as part of your preparation for meditation and remind yourself that it is OK to enjoy.

The Taboo Against Aliveness

Meditation is a bath in life’s essence. Even though you are just sitting there, you can feel yourself shimmering, bubbling with life impulses. Because you are more open to yourself, you are letting more sensations of electricity flow through your body and this results in greater intensity of sensation. As you let go in meditation, your muscles relax and circulation increases, and there are odd tinglings and gushes of life. This feels very taboo, and seems like “too much” to almost everyone at first.

The quiet intensity of feeling your impulses is like looking into a car engine firing. When you have the hood down, it’s a quiet purr, but if you put your ear right up next to it, an engine is loud and sounds like a series of explosions, which it is. Cultivate your love of explosions – that’s life. An explosion is a fuel consuming oxygen and expanding into space.

One quality which sometimes emerges right away from the contact with the self in meditation is a rebellious expressiveness. This is your raw self, the one who says yes and no, defining yourself. This spark is the perfect balance for the mellowness of meditation, and if you deny it, your vitality will suffer. In order to heal, you may have to risk being more lively than your tribe, family, job, or relationships allow. The people who know you may have to come to rely on you being low-key, or always kind, or always giving. You have to break your own and their taboos.

Whether your injury is emotional or physical, one of the elements you may need to reclaim is your rage to live, which you may have lost as a child, or in illness. I say rage to live intentionally, because there is a quality of utter demandingness combined with zest that healthy adults and children exhibit. Aggression is part of it, being excited about life and reaching out to grab what you want, and move away from what you do not want. To live, we have to dare to disturb the universe.

By the way, you can demand things of your meditation, and you can feel intensely alive when you are meditating. You can demand, request, desire, pray that in 1/2 hour you will be restored and vivified. Then let go totally and let your body repair and prepare itself.

The Taboo Against Spontaneity

Whenever you meditate, be willing to be surprised. The opposite of control is spontaneity, and in meditation it is very useful to have an informal, natural, unconstrained attitude toward your inner life. The transition from control, which may be your usual mode for going through life, to release of control, is another Threshold crossing, with its creepy sensations to endure.

When you close your eyes to meditate one of the first things that happens is every little thing you have forgotten comes to awareness. You might have several minutes of “Oh no, I left the laundry in the dryer,” “Uh oh, I forgot to call Jennie back, she’ll be pissed,” “Whoops, I was going to drop by the mechanic’s on the way home, have him listen to that noise the car is making.” There is no telling how long this will go on – it depends on how complex your life is and how good you are at organizing your time. By the way, I recommend that all meditators study time management and have good to-do lists, because it takes a load off your meditation time. When you release control, your brain’s backlog of unprocessed to-do’s will take over, and there is no honest way to stop the process. You just have to let it sort itself out. When we are walking around and we remember something we have forgotten to do, it feels like a little hit, a tiny shock going through the body. When we are sitting still in meditation, all relaxed and attentive, the sensation seems more intense because we are right there inside it. As you get used to it, though, these kinds of thoughts become like rain on the roof – you can hear the constant patter, and it’s actually pleasant.

The process gets worse from there. After your brain gets through your immediate to-dos, it will start to work on long-range desires, “Oh no – I forgot to have kids!” “I want a real home,” “Hey, I promised myself a trip to Europe and I never took it even though I had the money.” All those things you have forgotten or successfully pushed to the back of your mind for years.

You may also have forgotten to give yourself time to feel, in which case you may find yourself crying and not knowing why, or shaking, or getting angry. If you let yourself be taken by your emotions, you don’t know where they will take you. The more you let go of control, the more your body will just do what it has to do to balance itself.

One of the first people I instructed in Transcendental Meditation was a physicist from Cambodia named Hla. It was early 1971 and we were sitting in the room doing his first 10-minute meditation and he started vibrating. His legs were jumping around, then his torso got in on the act, then his entire body was vibrating as if he were dancing to Elvis. I was totally unconcerned. I had just come back from a year of meditating, and been through lots of shaking. The whole feeling in the room was peaceful; I didn’t detect anything wrong, and there was no sense that he had an illness. So I just sat there and looked at the Pacific ocean through the window, occasionally glancing over at Hla, who by now had fallen off his chair and was lying on his side shaking. This went on for about ten or fifteen minutes. I maintained my totally blasé attitude and eventually he stood up, took a breath, and said, “I must have been going through a phase transition. Now I feel very different.” Then he sat down and we continued. I acted as if this were the most normal thing in the world, and he had a lively and calm meditation. Over the next year, he would occasionally vibrate while meditating, but he never considered it a problem. He owned the vibrating as his own life force freeing itself up.

If you are afraid of the spontaneous, if you don’t trust yourself, then you will not let go as much during meditation – you won’t go very deep, and so you won’t be as surprised by catharsis. This itself is part of life’s self-regulation; you only get what you are ready for. If you are getting it, you are ready for it.

What lets you enter spontaneous mode is trust in your body and your nervous system. The fear of releasing control, just letting the attention wantonly go here and there feels like an immense taboo. Scandalous!

Because of this, you will notice, many people make up elaborate rules about what they can and can not think of during meditation, and the feeling is not of inner freedom at all. Take these sort of restrictive rules upon yourself only if you really feel you need them, because they limit of flow of life considerably.

There is another issue of spontaneity. Some people are wired so that they will not or can not admit a new experience unless they have seen the map of it first, thought about it, decided to go there, gotten a compass, taken reading, and then they set off, step by step. A friend of mine is like this. He is extremely perceptive, has done a great deal of self-exploration, and is a very lively guy. But I notice over the years that he never opens up to an aspect of breath, movement, or sensory awareness unless he decides to and scopes the entire process out in advance. For him, allowing even a relatively minor change in the way he experiences breath is like moving, as in packing up your house and moving. It’s a major operation. A lesser change is like remodeling, maybe knocking down a wall. It’s a mess, and you’d better have a damn good reason for proposing he make a change.

I call such people map-firsters or top-downers. They will Refuse the Call until the Call comes with maps, logistical details, cost/benefit analysis spreadsheets, brochures, environmental impact reports, insurance policies and American Express cards. The Call then has to wait while the map-firster think all this through. But then, when he or she decides to answer the call, they have done a great deal of the work in advance. They memorized the maps while they were mulling it all over. They have rehearsed what it will be like and given their nervous system permission to wire in the new levels of perception.

When a person is a map-firster, their nervous system has its reasons, which I suspect are protective.

The Taboo Against Descent

In dreams and myths, there is the recurrent image of descent into the next level below, the underworld. In meditation sometimes you may feel as if you are falling. The sensation is similar to that which you may have felt when taking a nap or falling asleep, only this time you are falling into meditation. Get used to it.

Sinking down into meditation can feel a bit like depression at times. It is as if there is a vast pool of blackness calling you, and you sink into it. This blackness, by the way, is real – much of the universe is vast empty space. Even the matter your body is made of is 99.999% empty space, so it’s not like reality is solid.

Descent is also literal, in that if you have been living in your head, in meditation the motion may be to move into your heart or your belly for awhile. Particularly if you are sitting up to meditate, this is a remarkable transition. If you have been at work all day, using your brain, it is very odd to notice, ten minutes into a meditation, that your center of consciousness is now in your belly. This is short-term descent, in which your body is giving your brain time off from being the dominant center.

There are other descents one has to face in meditation. If you are disabled, you may have the feeling that everything has been taken away. If you are hurt, injured, or ill, you may not be able to do your usual activities. Your motion and pleasure may be severely restricted. You may have a loss of function or capability, either permanent or temporary. This feels like a small death, a loss, and the feeling is depression.

If you have gotten a difficult diagnosis or prognosis, you may have had a sinking feeling, followed by an overwhelming sense of fear. There is a hidden gift in the sinking feeling, because the fear makes us want to run around in panic, which doesn’t help. Depression makes us feel like sitting still and doing nothing, which is at least restful.

Descent is also about facing death. In the short term, every outbreath is a death. The body senses the possibility of death at the end of each exhale. Death comes very quickly, in just a few minutes, if we do not breathe in again. We usually flee from facing this, it is too terrifying. But all spiritual traditions say that being aware of one’s inevitable death is one of the best preparations for living a full life. It makes you cherish the preciousness of life, however much you have left of it.

Depression is a Call into your depths. Meditation allows you to follow that call, safely and consciously so that you can reach to the very foundation of your being and gather to yourself the inner resources that are your strengths. In one of the ancient Babylonian myths, Gilgamesh had to dive to the bottom of the bottomless sea to pick a healing plant. Sometimes you will feel that you are sinking endlessly. As you learn to trust and tolerate these feelings, afterwards you will find yourself renewed. If you need help trusting your descent process, I recommend seeking out a member of the clergy, a therapist or a grief counselor. Let them help you, and then when you are meditating, you will be more skilled in accepting your inner experience.

I remember one day, one period of my life when my meditations took me into a place of darkness. I was used to light and electricity, surf and sunshine. This was like being in a cave. Although in the physical world it was light outside, in my inner world it was dark, silent, vast, and Other. Curious, I watched as the cells of my body pulsated in their own rhythm, contacted the darkness, and began to absorb nutrition from it. Slowly, slowly, over months my body began to make friends with the darkness and to rest in it. I learned that the darkness is restful and renewing like no other element. It is a vital element of life. It was as if I had built my body out of enthusiasm, light. This fed me in a completely different way.

Question and Answer about Abandoning Desire

Allie asked, "how does, "Quit from it's play' translation line in the sutra in your recent post relate (if at all) to
Sutra 1.2 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: "yoga chitta vritti nirodha?""

and I got into it:

Lorin Roche only a distant relationship

Lorin Roche Nirodha is a
mean word. Here is the dictionary listing:

  • m. confinement , locking up , imprisonment (-tas Mn. viii , 375)
  • investment , siege Cat.
  • enclosing , covering up Var. Ka1v. &c
  • restraint , check , control , suppression , destruction Mn. MBh. &c
  • (in dram.) disappointment , frustration of hope Das3ar.
  • (with Buddh. ) suppression or annihilation of pain (one of the 4 principles) Lalit. MWB. 43 , 56 , 137 &c
  • a partic. process to which minerals (esp. quicksilver) are subjectedCat.
  • hurting , injuring (= ni-graha) L.
  • aversion , disfavour , dislike W.

Here is a scan of the actual page from the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary:

ni rudh to hold back stop hinder 1

ni rudh to hold back stop hinder 2

So you can see, nirodha is a very discouraging word. Locking up, imprisonment. Suppression. Frustration of hope.

The VBT (Vijnana Bhairava Tantra) uses the word

śama - tranquillity, calmness, rest , equanimity, quietude or quietism, absence of passion, abstraction from eternal objects through intense meditation.

Here the technique is to let the desire flow, and then go to the place before desire, and after satiation.

Patanjali may have been writing for a monastic audience, of male renunciates. It may have even been an ironic, bitterly true statement and a kind of a joke, "Yoga = nirodha: confinement, locking up, imprisonment. Investment, siege. Enclosing, covering up. Restraint, check, control, suppression, destruction. Disappointment, frustration of hope."

There is an eternal joke - used in Dante's Inferno, and probably predating Dante by centuries, and now on the internet sometimes as AHAYWEH. Abandon Hope ALL Ye Who Enter Here.


What does AHAYWEH stand for? Abandon Hope ALL Ye Who Enter Here.

Lorin Roche Keep in mind with Patanjali that many people revere it as a religious text, and hold it in religious-catechism fashion. Nothing can be questioned. You must obey. So do not make trouble by talking about this with people who are true believers, you will just make them mad, as if you are questioning the Virgin Birth of Jesus.

In reality, you are supposed to talk back to yoga texts and ask them, "Who were you written for? What were they doing with their bodies?"

Source: Keep Calm - O - Matic

It is probably best to not talk about Patanjali at all, because it is such a confused issue, and no one knows what he meant, or if he existed. If you really want to know, read The "Yoga Sutra of Patanjali": A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books) Hardcover – May 25, 2014, by David Gordon White.

Consisting of fewer than two hundred verses written in an obscure if not impenetrable language and style, Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is today extolled by the yoga establishment as a perennial classic and guide to yoga practice. As David Gordon White demonstrates in this groundbreaking study, both of these assumptions are incorrect. Virtually forgotten in India for hundreds of years and maligned when it was first discovered in the West, the Yoga Sutra has been elevated to its present iconic status--and translated into more than forty languages--only in the course of the past forty years.White retraces the strange and circuitous journey of this confounding work from its ancient origins down through its heyday in the seventh through eleventh centuries, its gradual fall into obscurity, and its modern resurgence since the nineteenth century. First introduced to the West by the British Orientalist Henry Thomas Colebrooke, the Yoga Sutra was revived largely in Europe and America, and predominantly in English. White brings to life the improbable cast of characters whose interpretations--and misappropriations--of the Yoga Sutra led to its revered place in popular culture today. Tracing the remarkable trajectory of this enigmatic work, White's exhaustively researched book also demonstrates why the yoga of India's past bears little resemblance to the yoga practiced today.

Sanskrit Words Relating to Desire

(all definitions from the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary)

yathābhimatam - according to wish or will, at pleasure, wherever desire leads

pramadana - amorous desire

prajehā - desire of offspring

jīvātukāmyā - desire for, life

chandaspakṣa - borne aloft on the wings of desire

kautuka - curiosity, interest in anything, vehement desire for

icchārūpa - Desire as personified by the śāktas, the first manifestation of divine power

ātmābhilāṣa - the soul's desire

ātmecchā - desire of union with the Universal Soul

raṇaraṇaka - longing, anxiety, anxious regret for some beloved object. Desire, love. The god of love

smaradaśā - state of the body produced by love (ten states are named: joy of the eyes, pensive reflection, desire, sleeplessness, emaciation, indifference to external objects, abandonment of shame, infatuation, fainting away, death)

harṣa - bristling, erection, especially of the hair in a thrill of rapture or delight. Joy, pleasure, happiness. Erection of the sexual organ, sexual excitement, lustfulness. Ardent desire

rāgitā - the state of being colored or impassioned, fondness or desire for, longing after

vijijñāsā - desire of knowing distinctly, wish to prove or try, inquiry about

sarasa - containing sap, juicy. Potent, powerful. Elegant, beautiful, charming, gracious. Passionate, impassioned, enamored, full of love or desire