Human desires manifest as two powerful motivations in life – acquisition and enjoyment. You want to acquire whatever you desire from the world. And after acquiring you long to enjoy what you have acquired. You build a house and enjoy living in it. You prepare a tennis court and enjoy playing the game. Etcetera. Propelled by these two motivations every human being craves to acquire and enjoy more and more in the world. He consumes his entire life chasing images of happiness. None has found true happiness in mere acquisition or enjoyment. Yet the chase never ends. People are ultimately exhausted with their futile efforts and become frustrated and unhappy.
From the very beginning of life the mind has a tendency to acquire the wealth of the world. Yet it cannot qualify or quantify what it wants. Even in the present, when the mind acquires the object of its desire it forthwith pitches up something else. This thirst for acquisition continues. The wealthiest man in the world wants more wealth. The most powerful seeks more power. The most beautiful more beauty. Human beings face a real problem in their minds’ insatiable desire to acquire, aggrandise and the consequent agitation and frustration. The thirst can never be quenched by sheer acquisition of whatever the mind demands. Neither can the problem be solved by suppressing the desire for acquisition. In fact, there is no taboo to acquisition. You are advised only to control, regulate the mind’s indiscriminate craving for acquisition.
The second motivation is the desire to enjoy what has been acquired. Here again, there is no objection to enjoyment. You are not to refrain from enjoying what the world offers you but to restrain, control your indulgence in them. The unrestricted craving for enjoyment agitates the mind and ruins your peace. You suffer. Also, you enjoy objects or beings only when you exercise voluntary regulation and moderation. If however you do not exercise control and plunge into indiscreet indulgence in sensual enjoyment you lose the charm of it. You cannot enjoy it anymore. Unrestricted indulgence kills the enjoyment that you seek.
In truth there is no joy content in the objects and beings of the world. But it is extremely difficult, nay impossible to convince the layperson that the world cannot provide the enjoyment he seeks from it. He goes to an ice-cream parlour and orders Belgian chocolate. He enjoys it. How can he be convinced that there is no joy content in it? Yet the truth remains that none can find enjoyment in the external world.
The following example can perhaps help you examine the veracity of the statement. You sit outside in your garden on a full moon light. You ‘enjoy’ the beautiful moonlight Just think. Does the moon actually produce light? Does it have light in it per se? No, not at all. Yet some believe that the light comes from the moon. Educated as you are, you know that there is no light in the moon. Whatever arguments you put forth, the ignoramuses can never accept that there is no light in the moon. They see the light coming from the moon. They experience it. They enjoy it. So it becomes impossible for them to conceive that the moon has no light in it.
Similarly, the masses lack the wisdom to accept the truth that there is no joy content in the world. Their argument is similar. They can perceive the joy in the sense-objects. And argue that they gain enjoyment out of them. Hence they can never accept there is no joy in the external world. You may likewise hold on to your views but just ponder over the moonlight example.
~ An Extract from The Fall of the Human Intellect by Swami Parthasarathy