Often we think that the fulfilment of desires will bring us happiness. It is easy to have the thought that, if we can earn a certain amount of money, then we will have the security and ability to enable us to practise spirituality more. However, often when we fulfill a certain desire, it actually only increases our desire for more material possessions. The nature of desire is that when a desire is fulfilled the more desires we generate.
There is a big difference between desire and aspiration. Desire is our wish for material, finite things. Desire usually involves possession of things or other people. We desire objects because we feel that they will give us pleasure and satisfaction. Aspiration is a very different kind of desire. Spiritual aspiration is a wish to grow into a more divine consciousness.
“Desire is a wildfire that burns and burns and finally consumes us. Aspiration is a glowing fire that secretly and sacredly uplifts our consciousness and finally liberates us.” (1)
When we aspire we do not want anything on an outer plane. We are seeking to find inner peace and inner happiness. It is the inner joy that does not depend on outer circumstances. In aspiration there is no desire for possession. The nature of spiritual consciousness is oneness. What we have is not just for ourselves, we feel part of a larger self. It is through aspiration that we are able to go beyond the ego and attain true satisfaction.
“He who desires wants to possess each and every thing, each and every individual in the entire world. He who aspires wants only those things that will help him transcend his abundant limitations and teeming imperfections.” (2)
To make real progress in the spiritual life we have to limit our desires. We have to give first priority to spirituality rather than the fulfilment of material desires. It is a mistake to think that we will make more spiritual progress in the future if we can change our outer circumstances. Spirituality always needs to be practised in the here and now. Whatever our outer circumstances we need to make the best use of them. If we wait for a golden tomorrow, that future may never come.
To limit our desires does not mean we have to live the life of an ascetic. Money does not have to be an obstacle in the spiritual life. If money is used for divine purposes then it can help and expedite our spiritual journey. From a spiritual point of view money is only a problem when it becomes our primary objective. When making money takes precedent in everything we do, then we do not find time to pray and meditate. However it is possible to combine great material wealth with a sincere spirituality, like for example King Janaka.