Desires create our will—regardless whether it evolves in opposition to or as a consequence of them. However, there is one serious problem—one way or another they cause people to suffer. Furthermore, being by nature a life force, they bear the traces of the animal kingdom, maintaining our lower “I” and forming all kinds of base feelings, like hatred, avarice, jealousy and so on. Fear and desires are the basis of human unconsciousness, and therefore everyone who sets out on their mystic journey must work with them. When a person is full of desires, it is hard for him to cultivate his awareness, because all his attention is wholly absorbed within them. When working on awareness, unrealized desires eventually become a serious obstacle. But if a person does not attain a high enough level of awareness, his Heart will not open.
Working with desires means gradually closing long opened desires and refusing to take on new ones. Where, then, can the energy received once again from the life force find refuge? It will normally go into what has by then become one’s principal desire. For Sufis this is traditionally fused with a Beloved or a passionate desire for Truth. Other mystics formulate this in their own way, but the essence remains the same—by a certain point, only one desire should remain, so that the person can remain in the physical body and receive the energy that gives him the will to life. And then what?
And then the following will happen: the person should prepare himself to surrender his will and accept the Will of the Almighty. If he does not do this, then at the moment it is liberated from his last desire the body will pass on, and that will be all. It is very rare that liberation from the last desire coincides with Surrender. Normally, Surrender happens earlier on, but never before the person’s Heart is open. An open Heart is a necessary precondition for true Surrender.
Where there is Truth there is always falsity. There is therefore such a thing as false surrender, when a person has imagined that they have already surrendered, and has begun to follow their own personal desires, justifying them according to the higher Will and imbuing them with a kind of holy zeal. A person with a developed awareness will never fall for such tricks of the mind.
Where God is not, there can be no Surrender either. Hence all the Buddhists have is the bodhisattvas’ relinquishing of their last desire—to eradicate the suffering of all living creatures. And then Nirvana. And Buddhist mystics have to deify the Buddha to thereby make contact with the Higher Forces.
Once the Heart is opened, even if not fully, Surrender then becomes possible. The point is that when the Divine Presence has become a reality for a person, there is then someone to surrender to. Until that point, he may only surrender to his own fantasies. But the readiness to reject one’s own will and to Surrender does not normally come straight away either. The opening of the Heart is a process which progresses over time and is not altogether unharmful for the person. The new perception that comes with this opening can come as quite a shock, and the new state takes some getting used to. Afterwards it changes—in the course of cleansing the channel of connection, one’s perception expands and transforms, but it may take a year or two for this to happen.
Surrender, in contrast to the open Heart, is a mystical act which may happen in a moment, here and now, with no extension in time. This shift occurs almost instantaneously, but accepting the Will does not meant that the individual desires that remain within a person are completely destroyed. Rejecting one’s own will is one thing, but accepting the Will of God is something else. You may cast away your tiny, limited and ailing resources, deciding not to use them anymore, but this does not yet mean that you may immediately make use of resources of a far higher order than your own. The situation may be outlined something like this. Your desires proceed from the mind and are fed by a force from a higher level. By accepting the Will, you are making contact with the Force, which involves almost no participation by the mind. The impulses of the Will act directly upon the Heart, and all you have to do is follow it as far as your own powers allow, and then when your powers are finished, keep following it anyway.
Of course, the mind is needed either way as an instrument with to match the demands of the Will to the surrounding realia, but that is all. And when Surrender does not occur at the very last moment, and not as though falling into the abyss, but slightly earlier, and when desires remain very much alive, it is impossible to fully accept the Higher Will. Surrender has already taken place and you have surrendered yourself completely, but you have only been able to partially accept the Will. But whatever happens, you have already entered into a conscious interaction with the Force of God, and there is no way back, therefore you have to follow the Will as it is revealed, at least to the extent that you are able to do so. This is how the process of erasing your own will begins, which leads to full acceptance of and fusing with the Will of God.
Any mystical act, be it Surrender of the will or accepting your pupillage, communicating spiritual knowledge or altering the Pattern, is always the act of a single moment. It happens quickly and is accomplished entirely within that moment. However the processes that are triggered in the course of this act may last for years and continue to affect a person over a substantial period of time. And herein lies a mystery—one of the many mysteries that mystics encounter on their path.
The opportunity to fully accept the Will comes about in the process of a several acts of purification undertaken by the mystic, and for each one this process is individual and follows its own course. There is only one general principle—every new ordeal increases the acceptance (in a general sense, as an inner quality) of the mystic. The more precisely the mystic follows the Will that has been revealed to him, the quicker his progress becomes. Following is of itself the greatest school of learning, and therefore by following the Will, the mystic continues to grow and gain knowledge of Truth.
To begin with, a high level of alertness is demanded of the mystic, in order to distinguish the manifestation of the Will from his own desires, but it is not normally possible to reach this level with low awareness. He continues to work on his desires, giving priority to those actions that are dictated by the Will. Experience shows that the Will normally leads a person to the point where he is able to obtain a resolution to his problems and eliminate his remaining attachments. The task of acceptance is thereby made easier, though it comes at the cost of substantial efforts, as accelerating the path always means increasing internal and external tension and the suffering that comes with it. Eliminating one’s illusions and attachments is always painful, but without it, acceptance and complete Surrender cannot happen. Following the Will demands unconditional trust and an ability to perform extraordinary feats. In this pursuit, mystics also develop qualities that make them almost supermen in the eyes of laypeople.
The impulses of the Will come through the heart center, just like the impulses that later become desires. But in contrast to them, the impulses of the Will come pre-formed and require no additional shaping by the mind. One has to understand and decipher them, but this does not require any real effort from someone who has already got to the point of Surrender and is ready to follow, because it is not uncommon for the meaning of the demands of the Will to be revealed at this point.
To a greater or lesser extent, desires are always egoistic: even if a person wants to eradicate the suffering of all living creatures, he does this primarily for himself, as he cannot bear to live with the thought of the suffering of those around him. It is he that needs the eradication and not them; therefore all such schemes collapse in on themselves or else they end in violence. Furthermore, the person who possesses this desire suffers no less than the rest, as he is constantly confronted by the incomprehension and indifference of those he wants to help. Following the Will, the mystic loses any kind of egoistic motivation. His main concern becomes the precision with which he follows, because everything in the world can be distorted, and to precisely fulfill God’s desire is not always easy. Indeed, we may tentatively think of the Will as God’s desires, although this would be to greatly simplify the situation. However it helps us to understand why the mystic can exist without his own personal desires, restricting himself only to fulfilling his own personal needs. We also come to understand why the mystic may experience negative emotions in following the Will—after all, should someone stand in the way of fulfilling God’s desires, the wrath of God is that much greater than the wrath of an ordinary human being. But let us just say it does not happen very often.
Following precisely will lead a person to full Surrender, and to a blameless life. And yet, generally speaking, not one that is consistent with the notions of many believers on how a true holy person should live. Nevertheless, by eliminating his own desires, the mystic becomes a pure conductor of the Will to our plane of Being. As I have already pointed out, this does not happen straight away, but inevitably it does happen, through a series of transformations, which we shall discuss a little later on.