The Three Subtle Desires

Dec 13, 2023 | Virtues of the Heart

The unconscious patterns we live by

Change is difficult. As humans, we have unconscious patterns that impede our efforts to achieve almost any positive change. Such is the case with the three subtle desires, as discussed in the booklet “Living from the Heart” by James Mahu.

Mahu introduces us to these desires and explains how they influence nearly every activity of our lives from our grand aspirations to our most mundane endeavors. Once again, this is a case of the ego-mind running on autopilot just under the level of consciousness. These desires have a profound influence on our ability to stay focused on the present moment and our intention to follow through on creating something new.

1. The Desire for Instant Gratification

In today’s culture we have come to expect our needs to be met at faster and faster speeds. This premise is based on achieving goals or destinations leading to a fancier car, a larger home, enlightenment, a bottomless bank account, a prestigious social status, power, fame, or better health. Shortcuts and immediate gratification are the prevailing messages used by advertisers to sell us the means to achieve our goals faster and faster. This runs contrary to the idea of setting a goal and having the patience, commitment, and focus to follow through on purposeful, heart-centered intentions. This desire assumes that the fastest way is the best way to achieve our goals, rather than the well-thought-out, practical approach. We quickly lose interest and give up if the results are not immediate, we give up.

2. The Desire for Control

One of the ego’s most formidable characteristics is the need for control. This is its quest to validate its existence as the center of our identity. We are indoctrinated into the desire for control early in life to conform to our family and the social fabric. Boys are taught to control their emotions, the implication being that this controlled behavior is essential to their success in life and business. If we hold onto the need for control, we are constantly in competition with others and try to control their reality also. We are constantly fighting others who want us to conform to their preferences.

The antidote to needing to control our lives starts with trusting that we will be able to handle any problem or situation as it arises. As we practice opening our mind, heart, and will, we let go of this need to control and allow something new to emerge. Working with life, rather than trying to bend reality to conform to our needs, can lead to improved emotional health, physical health, and mental clarity.

3. The Desire for the Next Thing

This desire takes us out of the present moment, as it is predicated on the belief that there is always something more important over the horizon than what is here now. The desire for the next thing pushes to move us on to the next idea or thing that will make us feel better. It means that we don’t allow ourselves to spend the time to learn a new skill, a new idea, a new teaching, a new way of living. It is a never-ending quest in the hope that the next best thing will be the best thing ever. Once again, the practice of opening our mind and our heart offers an opportunity to go deeper inside to a more meaningful connection with the intelligence you already have. It requires commitment, perseverance, vigilance, and trust in yourself in this process.

Noticing these subtle desires is the first step if we are committed to changing the power they have over us. If we don’t notice what we are doing unconsciously, we can’t change it. These desires are a perfect opportunity to practice the six heart virtues.

Remember the heart virtues are behaviors and as such, they are the expression of the Soul or Sovereign. They are in alignment with love or our source. The moment we practice one or more of the virtues, we make a significant change in our personal sphere of reality.

Here’s an example:

I recently had a work-related problem where I was engrossed in thoughts about the future possibilities surrounding this problem. It was a serious enough problem, but my mind was endlessly going over one scenario after another, and each one more troubling than the previous one.

I was trying to CONTROL what had happened already. I wanted to solve it INSTANTLY and move on to the NEXT THING. My mind was fighting this in every way it could. In this state of anger, fear and emotional stress, I could not really think rationally or intelligently. I was emotionally out of control.

In an instant of clarity, I noticed what was happening and in so doing, I gained the power to make a new choice in the moment. I knew I had to stay present at least for a few moments to shift my state. I take a few breaths, I relax, and I let go of my thoughts the best I can.

This short centering practice opens a space for me to focus on the heart virtues. Immediately Compassion comes to me, I sense Compassion for my self. This simple act allows me to relax a little more. I begin pull back and I see and Understand what I was going through. I saw how the unconscious desires had played out and I fell for them again.

The pull of the unconscious desires is very strong and habitual, but I could sense I needed Valor to stand up for myself and stay strong. This comes like a wave of power and confidence.

The virtues enable me to shift from an unconscious state to a conscious state where love is present, clarity, confidence and my ability to think intelligently replace the unconscious desires that led me to suffering.

I was able to solve my problem as I made rational decisions rooted in my heart intelligence one step at a time.

Notice, Relax, and Release, then transmit and receive the virtues of the heart.

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