I understand the basic concept of the yamas and the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating desire. That makes some sense to me. I have become more aware of my desires as they pop up during the day from grocery shopping to how I spend my day, and I can see the constant cycle of desire.
But are all desires bad? What about my desire to learn more about yoga? If I didn’t have that desire, I wouldn’t be taking this training and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn new meditation practices, breathing techniques, and spiritual practices such as the yamas. Without desire, can one grow?
And is desiring pleasurable things inherently bad if they are not harming others in any way? I can understand not being attached to the experience of pleasure and getting stuck constantly striving for pleasure. However, pleasurable things can bring solace and help calm the mind and body. I don’t want to live in a world without the glory of Bach’s music or the pleasures of a crisp fall day or the hug of a loved one.
And how does one live without desires? Like a blank slate with no goals? Is life just a series of routines—purifications, pranayma, meditation, asana, sleep? If that is enlightenment, I am not sure I want it. What is the point of being a living human being with senses if all one is doing is trying to quiet or negate them. I don’t understand a divine spirit creating humans with the capacity to feel and sense the world and then asking them to not feel or sense the world. That just seems like a cruel joke.