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Aspiration and Desire

Truly desire is the cause of sin,
but it is the desire for selfish gratification that constitutes such cause,
and not the desire to live a true and unselfish life,
which latter should be called aspiration, rather than desire.

The love of Truth, the thirst for righteousness,
the aspiring towards a pure and blameless life,
these things lift a man into the divine life,
and without them there can be no progress,
no knowledge of Truth.
James Allen

Although there is a similarity in these towards—"aspiration," and "desire"—their true meanings are quite different. Persons in writing and speaking often use the word "desire," when "aspiration" is meant, and this is of greater importance than is at first supposed.

Their resemblance consists in their both having apparently the same meaning, namely:—To long for, wish for, lust for, to covet or to love—but if we look deeper, we shall find that the former truly signifies that divine feeling Inman which impels him to look up to, or to rise or soar up to something high and excellent, while the latter really means, to crave for, or lust, for something pleasurable and fleeting, and which will be found to be depraving.

We find an illustration of the misapplication of a word in the Bible. In that part of the laws of Moses which deals with the eating of certain meats, it reads—"whatever thy soul lusteth after."

Now when a man is hungry, we should not say he lusted for food, and when one hungers and thirsts after righteousness, it would not be correct to say he lusts after a righteous life, but rather he aspires to such a life.

Desire is often used as another word for sin, and, if we again look deep, we shall see that it is not misapplied in this case, for "desire is the cause of sin," and sin is the inevitable outcome of desire. Where there is no desire there can be no sin.

Aspiration on the other hand is the sure path of righteousness, which leads to the Way of Peace; and he who looks upward and dwells in thoughts above his sordid, desiring self, is at once slowly and surely growing upwards, and his soul is expanding like a beautiful flower, although he may not at first be conscious of it.

To aspire is to behold this path and strive to walk it without thought of reward, but solely for the love of good; to desire is to turn from it, to sit down to rest by the wayside, or to take the backward path down to where the storms of passion beat around his purposeless life, and the blinding darkness of self shuts out from his view the Heavenly Vision. Aspiration only can cause the truthseeker's sleeping spirit to awaken from error and darkness, to urge him to seek the true Way, and to encourage him with thoughts of Home.

There may be a certain amount of each of these qualities in everyone, but in accordance with the Law, the stronger the sway which desire has over a man the less aspiring are his thoughts, and to the exact extent of his conquest over desire, his mind and soul are aspiring to a higher degree of goodness and perfection.

Many there are who decry the idea of perfection in man, but let us set about the task of expelling foul desire from our minds, so shall our thoughts be filled with holy aspiration, and those strongholds which seemed impregnable shall yield to the conqueror; the insurmountable obstacles will dwindle into nothingness, and the heights which seem unattainable shall by the aspirant easily be reached, "for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Earnest aspiration is the commencement of the war against desire or self, and although many hard battles must be fought and many defeats sustained, it is a fight to the finish, a struggle to the death—the death of desire—and the end of war is victory and peace, bringing in its train joy and bliss unspeakable?

To dignify the day with deeds of good,
And eve constellate with all holy thoughts,
This is to live.
If you will be governed by reason, and be true to the best of yourself, you will be happy.
—Marcus Aurelius


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Oswald Godman

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