Thus, through observation of the body and emotions, each seeker realizes eventually the need to become aware of his mind, its content, and the laws that govern the way it operates. Ideas are the source of fuel for the mind, while desires are the mind’s products.

It is important to understand that desires are associated closely with human needs and necessities. “Desire is a need gone mad,” Osho used to say, and he was absolutely right. Here is an example: Hunger is a physical need that requires fulfillment. Yet, if you feel like drinking a cup of sweet tea paired with a pickle, that would be a desire to experience pleasure from contrasting taste sensations. The need to fulfill sexual needs manifests itself through certain desires, and the more these desires are repressed, the more sophisticated and twisted they become. The need for self-realization can yield a desire to create art, or become enlightened, or climb the career ladder, or elicit a feeling that you would love to start a family. The basic set of ideas the mind acquires determine the shape of an individual desire. Hence, a need creates the foundation for a desire, which is then formed based upon conditioning and its settings. Therefore, the same need can produce diametrical desires in different individuals. For instance, the need to feel secure can produce a desire to be around people—as they will surely help and protect you if something happens—or a desire to stay away from them—because they are unpredictable, dangerous, and know not what they do.

To have the opportunity to see your repressed desires, you have to find them first. Desires don’t sit around within the field of our attention the entire time; rather, they show up occasionally when propitious milieu are created to fulfill them. Not all desires become repressed as an outcome of moral constraints or conditioning; some simply cannot be gratified at a particular time and are forced into the unconscious. It is impossible to obtain a view of all of the desires at once because there are many and because they have been repressed during different periods in life. Usually, the work resembles the process of peeling an onion: Once you become aware of, and work thoroughly through the desires and emotions that constitute one “layer” of the unconscious, you have an opportunity to go deeper inward and discover the next “layer” of energies repressed at an earlier time. The work with the unconscious is indeed very much like peeling an onion: When all of the layers are peeled away, all that is left in your hands is emptiness.