Desires and fears. How different they seem. How similar they truly are. How can desire and fear be so totally related? Think of it this way: if you say, "I want to be loved," it's the same thing as saying "I'm afraid I won't be loved." If you say, "I want to have someone around me," it's the same as saying "I'm afraid of being alone." The truth is that fear and desire are at the root of each other. Rather, than leading us to fulfillment, desires take us away from it. The more desires we have, the greater the fear that those desires will not be fulfilled. And all desires represent one of two things: wanting something we don't have, such as great wealth, or not wanting something we have, such as a pile of overdue bills. We desire good health and vigor; we fear disease. We desire a loving relationship; we fear loneliness. Can you see that if you say, "I want to live," it's the same as saying "I'm afraid I will die,"?
Imagine the transition from being in the womb to facing the world. You went from paradise to shock in just a few minutes. You moved from comfort, security, safety and perfection from the paradise of the womb to the experience of almost dying. The first thing you consciously did was try to save your life.You were in a state of pure panic.
Look at most babies who have just been born. They're still clenching their hands; their eyes are tightly shut. We think it's natural, but the baby is saying, "I have to defend myself in order to save my life. I'm afraid to let go." When you were born, in a state of panic, the only thing you could do to protect yourself was to contract. Your first reaction was based on fear.
Each of our desires is really a concern about our survival. When we finally see that the desires and fears that we have today are actually the desires and fears of a four-year-old and that we're not weak and helpless after all, our survival is no longer such a big problem. If we look behind our current desires, this is always the case. But now, as adults, our survival is no longer such a big problem, because we have a different perspective and have lost touch with the root of our desires.
To understand this concept more clearly, we must understand the difference between a need and a desire. A need is something that is required to survive; it's not something you would simply like to have, as in "I need a new car." What we actually need for survival is oxygen, water, food, sleep and the right temperature. Wanting these things is not the same as desiring them because they are life-sustaining needs. On the other hand, the things we desire - a more expensive house in an exclusive neighborhood, a luxury SUV, a powerboat and the like, are not needed to sustain our bodies.
For example, you may want a new coat. If you have no other coat and winter is coming, you may actually need a new coat, however, if you already have three coats in your closet, you desire the new one because it's the latest fashion. You want to impress people by being presentable, attractive and because you think people will like you. Why do you want them to like you? So there will be someone around to take care of you.
The problem? Desires cannot be fulfilled. In the case of the new winter coat, you may buy it and it might seem that your desire has been fulfilled. But since every desire is attached to an earlier, unfulfilled desire, buying the coat is not enough. After about a week, you get used to your new coat and then that energy will be focused on desiring something else. "I need some new boots to go with my new coat." You're still not complete; you're still not satisfied. You're still frustrated. The program in your head still says, "I need; I desire; I must have," but no matter how many desires you fulfill, you will always feel empty.
"Finding Clarity: A Guide to the Deeper Levels of Your Being" by Jeru Kabbal adapted by Leonard M. Zunin, M.D. and Robert Strock (North Atlantic Books; 2006), offers a series of methods and exercises to provide a vehicle for this critical understanding of the relationship between desires and fears. If you're ready for this challenge, you can begin right away. Make a commitment for six weeks to look for the fear that lurks in the shadow of each desire and the desire that lurks in the shadow of every fear. If you follow the program, you'll be amazed at the transformation that begins with a new awareness you've developed by following the method. As you find clarity, you take the first steps into freedom from both desires and fears.