Human desire manifests itself in different forms – lust, aim, ambition, control, goal, etc. However, the driving force is the same – power, fame and money and I think it ultimately boils down to control and hence power. Some also call it an ego trip.
Desire is fueled by experience. A living being wants to experience the world. This is an inherent trait of all life forms. We are wired for experience. Urge for maximization of experience fuels the desire. Whether the desire is for sex, money, fame etc. it is driven by the same need to have experience.
As our brains develop (right from our birth) the neurons need to form the memory pathways. This process is accomplished by sensory perception where the inputs from the senses form the memory. Thus memory formation forces experience gathering. Thus we are hardwired to increase our experience and memories. This is the basis of desire. Thus desire and brain are interlinked. As long as brain exists there will always be desire.
One of the outcomes of desire is possession. We feel a need to possess whatever we desire whether it is a person, object or even an idea. This possession provides an anchor for the experience and helps in maximization it. As we absorb this “experience” through our senses, our brain processes this information. It is during this process that we “decide” whether our desires are fulfilled or not. Fulfillment of desires therefore helps us in releasing the “possessions” and is the genesis of detachment or contentment as preached in most of the religions of the world. Thus a powerful processor or mind which can coolly and calmly look and evaluate all the possibilities can sometimes get its desires fulfilled without physically possessing the objects of desire. This process gives us tremendous sense of peace, tranquility and perspective in our lives and is called wisdom. While on the other hand a weaker brain with short memory needs to possess a lot more things for fulfilling them and this leads to greed. Thus to live a sustainable life it is necessary to have a powerful brain processor.
Desire is a useful and necessary emotion. It allows us to be active and help in achieving something. Without desire we will be lifeless, dead or like stones. However what we need to do is to channel our desires so that they get fulfilled without too much taxing of resources, materials and energy. For example a desire to invent a new process, to create a new thought or discovery does not require much energy or resources, say as that required for possessing too many cars or luxury items like a 100 ft yacht or a private jet liner, etc! The desire for material goods which supply our needs and not our greed could be good for humanity at large and will lead to sustainability.
One of the possible ways to satiate the desire for possession of material goods is sublimating it via virtual reality (VR) tools. These high tech tools which are basically 3D video games like aircraft simulation systems allow the mind to have an enhanced experience without physically possessing the objects of desire. As the technology for virtual reality systems evolves and VR becomes more realistic we will be able to take care of most of our desires with very little use of energy and materials. This will hopefully lead us to sustainability.
Satiation of most desires require energy and material resources and excessive desire leads to greed and hence to unsustainability. The wisdom of “I” or ego can keep a check on the desires. If not, then the mind goes into an ever-expanding spiral of greed and excesses. Unresolved desires produce memory knots or stresses which have the mechanism of always directing the brain to them and creating anger, frustrations and hence depression. This happens because the thought production is channeled or influenced by the existing memories. If the brain has more memory knots of unfulfilled desires then its working memory gets reduced and the new thoughts get centered and focused around these knots leading to anger, frustration etc.
A stressed mind therefore gets angry very fast. Anger is an emotion, which occurs when things don't happen the way we want. Thus a powerful processor or mind may have better conflict and anger resolution capabilities than a shallow thinking mind. Thus insecurity and anger may be related.
The power of the brain processor is increased by availability of its working memory. This can happen with cultivation of deep thought so that the dissolution of other memories and psychological knots takes place. As this memory increases, the absorption and digestion of inputs also get enhanced since the mind becomes hungry for more experiences and this increases our desires. As our desires increase both in quantity and quality the powerful brain/mind complex starts looking for higher purposes. This “mind opening” or God experience allows interaction of mind with external and higher dimensional knowledge space and allows us to access the existing information from it - the basis of most discoveries, inventions etc.
First published as an editorial article in Times of India, 28 June, 2010.