The Spirituality of Desire

We all have desires. If we are on a spiritual path, what attitude should we take towards them?

Many spiritual traditions interpret desire as counter productive, something that must be conquered in order to experience realization.

Other schools of thought, such as positive thinking, consider the fulfillment of desire to be the goal of our spiritual work.

I propose an alternative approach. Embrace desire, so you can see through it.

When we deny a desire, it gets bigger. We all know what we will immediately start thinking about if we are told not to think of an elephant. Yet it is also true that if we want to experience inner fulfillment, we must learn to transcend the fickle whims of the mind, which fluctuate constantly in an unending cycle of highs and lows, achievements and disappointments, success and failure.

Spiritual realization is the greatest desire of the heart. Just as an adult is no longer interested in the toys a toddler would find fascinating, a taste of what I call “love-consciousness” makes other desires pale in comparison. It is not by denying desire that liberation is found, but by discovering your truest, purest desire: then the obsession and need surrounding external satisfactions naturally lose their power.

The world we live in is meant for us to love it. It is designed for us to experience it to the fullest, in our own unique and perfect expression. Let’s celebrate life, explore our dreams and aspirations, and at the same time cultivate an inner experience that takes us beyond them, to establish a space of stability and self-acceptance from which we can watch the magic of existence unfold.

This is the path of Tantra. Tantra is to accept, to embrace every aspect, without denying anything. It is the path of unconditional love, for if we cannot love ourselves exactly as we are, with our desires and dreams, our loves and hates, then we are still putting conditions upon ourselves.

Our desires are tinted by the memories stored in the subconscious. They are not rational, and so they cannot be removed by rational thought. Any attempt to intellectualize your way out of desire will ultimately end in denial.

Even though intellectually you want to let go, the support system of your own personal matrix is controlling you from a deeper level. But “love-consciousness” is more powerful than the subconscious programmings. By elevating the vibration of love, feeding that experience, the light of our awareness starts to shine brighter, and the shadows of our obsessions, fears and attachments start to fade away. We continue to elevate our consciousness, bit by bit, until the vibration becomes stronger than the programming. Then, the situation is reversed. The intellect is no longer in control: it becomes a servant of consciousness, a tool for that experience of love and trust to interact with the world.

Embrace your desires. Embrace yourself. Your resentments, your fears and insecurities. Then see through them. Discover the wonder of consciousness, and make that your highest focus.

Isha Judd is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and author; her latest book and movie, Why Walk When You Can Fly? explain her system for self-love and the expansion of consciousness. Learn more at


Jewels S.
Jewels S7 years ago

It is interesting. It goes against some of my beliefs from looking at the world we live in it seems to me that most need more structure, behavioral restraint but maybe if they believed they could go after what they really want instead of what ever destructive escapist behavior they would be happier? I will have to process this more. Thank you for the thoughts.

Vicky L.
Vicky L7 years ago

Emotional restraint has indeed been a lesson for me. That's what my (deffinitely well-meaning) parents taught me to do and I ended up hating myself, lost self-confidence and felt guilty, undeserving of anything good. Only when I realized that my true nature and all its aspects are 'good = i.e. just the way they should be', I blossomed spiritually: managed to open myself to other people and suspend my judgments.

Harry Z.
Harry Z7 years ago

I don't think this is a feminine point of view at all, but one that transcends the old, entrenched intellectualized views of what masculine and feminine are supposed to be.
In a world where so much suffering, desecration and death is brought forth by our attempts to tame the unconscious, Isha's vision is alive and I hope that one day it will spread like widefire, burning our collective hearts and minds into love-consciousness.

James R. Stewart Jr.

This is certainly the Feminine point of view. As a MAN, I must say:
"The Lesson Is Emotional Restraint."

Melissah Chadwick
Melissah C7 years ago


Marilyn L.
Marilyn L7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Susan S.
Susan S7 years ago

Embrace life, embrace living and seize your divine moment! Live abundantly. Thanks

Ashlee S.
Ashlee S7 years ago

Good article, thanks.

Bb La Desh
.7 years ago

Excellent way of dealing with our desires, great way to accept all of ourselves, thanks!

NoEmails H.
beba h7 years ago

I liked Silvia's comment too---loving like a lighthouse !! Very cool article and cool comments. Thanks