There have been many discussions on desires and attachment, and many eloquence has been delved deep into these concepts. So what I am going to say is nothing new or any new addition to the existing knowledge. However, since it is a wish to share my thoughts, I am expressing what I personally felt about these concepts.
The very life, when it is born, wants to live. It applies to humans also. Therefore, it is natural to have the will or wish to live and retain the body for that purpose in a proper way for just living. This has nothing to do with desires or attachment because those concepts develop later in a person’s life from his thinking.
Now, as the person matures in life, he has to set standards in family, society and further as head of his own family, more responsibilities are waiting for him. In the process of his growth into adulthood, the person faces so many challenges. During the course of these challenges, he sets his ambition or wishes to reach certain levels in his life and thus the desires arise one by one.
A person’s wish to be someone in life becomes his tool to glide through very many desires. No man is an island. Everyone cannot become a sanyasi (saint) because it is not by wish it happens, it is the evolution from within, like what happened to Adi Sankara or Swami Vivekananda. Such persons are rare. An average person has various responsibilities, apart from his own survival in accordance with his standing in family and society. He needs many material things and to acquire certain skills towards achieving his wishes in life, he also needs various tools such as higher education, acquisition of material things and so on and so forth.
Therefore, the desires are natural in a human social set up. Nothing is free, including health, education, other social and family commitments. Having desires is the driving force to discharge the responsibilities. But, as one travels in one’s life, I feel the person concerned should evaluate himself as to how much one is becoming part of the desires. He should think whether the desires are driving him or he is driving the desires. Here comes the finer aspect of distinction and here exactly begins the concept of attachment.
Even a saint had a desire before he became one and, afterward, he lives in that desire being fulfilled. This is also one kind of desire. In this case, when such a person gets attached to that way of life, the desire fructify and the person transforms himself for the social good. So, the attachment to the position of a saint is divine, because of the purpose.
When persons get into too many desires and get themselves attached to the worldly pleasures, the trouble of desires engulf and prevents the person from getting the actual knowledge about life and it gets distorted. The desires turn themselves into attachment, either to the forms of wealth or persons. In either case, the person stops seeing his own perspective correctly but starts seeing multiplicity. This leads to dualism.
Man has to be an instrument of change; a change from the sheer materialistic living devoid of any divine content. It is an established fact that divinity in life brings about equanimity, right perspective, right orientation, and right thinking. All these help a person to bring about adjustments in his life to become a person of immense faith in himself and thus in the Almighty. This also makes him more focused on the actual nature of life rather than getting lost in artificial ways. Stability in the person’s thinking and farsightedness makes him disassociate himself from the pitfalls of too many desires leading to the attachment of things other than divine.
We have been taught that Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the sustaining factor, and Shiva is the destroyer. When we analyze these concepts, these are three stages of life. As humans, we have no roles to play in the first and the last one as they happen to us in the process of nature itself. But when we live during the intervening period on this mother earth, we have to bind ourselves to Vishnu (or Lord Krishna as known to many) so that the life is sustained or preserved in a comfortable manner. This is for all life forms, and not only for humans.
This being so, there is nothing wrong with having desires to live well while living, wading through our desires. But, while doing so, one must remember that everything in this world has a divine purpose and we are part and parcel of it. Every life is divine. One must remember not to have greed, aggrandizement, short cuts and other corrupt or mean forms to achieve one’s own selfish interests at the cost of others. Carrying on with life activities keeping Lord Krishna in mind, in fact, brings in Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth also in one’s life because She resides in Him. The moment we are away from Krishna, She also goes away. Very great philosophy has been taught to us by our ancestors through these concepts.