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The Hidden Layer of Desire - Conflicts Within the Internal Self

Updated: Jul 8

Layer of Desire. A giant cannon shoots in a battlefield.
AI art by Mr. Elisha Dvir
“In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? Is it like the hand of God hovering above? At least it is true that man has no control, even over his own will." -- Kentarou Miura

The Two Layers of Desire: Beyond the Feeling

Today, I delve into the complex realm of desire, exploring not just its familiar emotional layer, but also its hidden, cognitive counterpart. Desire, as we all know, is a powerful force – a feeling, or hope, that drives our actions, propels us forward, and shapes our choices in the freedom they have. But is desire solely an emotional impulse, or is there more to it than meets the eye?

The truth, I propose, is that desire is not simply a feeling; it is also a cognitive decision. We may experience desire as an emotion, a pull towards something we want, but the decision to pursue that desire, to truly embrace it, is a conscious choice. This cognitive aspect of desire, often overlooked, holds immense potential for personal growth and self-mastery.

For desire is also composed of our relationships with our feelings, whether or not we are aware of them. Who is to say we desire something inside of us that propels us to do something, against our own will? Who's to say we are fully united with our impulses by consent? Who's to say we agree with what we feel just because we feel it? As such, the human being is also a judge of their own emotion, and it is their role to either approve or disapprove of them.

Hence why there is a great duality between our intentions and plans and between our feelings. As such, they are not always aligned with one another, nor have to be, in order for a desire to be made. Due to the irrational aspect existent in humans, people can be highly mixed within themselves, leading to inconsistency and internal conflict within in our desires as well.

Anchoring in Ambition

Think of it this way: our feelings are like passing clouds, ever-changing and sometimes fleeting. But our decisions, once made, become the anchors that hold us steady amidst the emotional tide. By consciously deciding to pursue something even when the feeling may not be immediately present (if at all), we transcend the limitations of our fluctuating emotions and unlock a deeper wellspring of potential within us, forged in discipline and determination.

This has been a profound revelation for me on my own journey of self-exploration. Through the practice of asceticism, I have discovered the power of desiring without feeling. By setting goals and committing to them with unwavering determination, even when the immediate emotional pull may be weak, I have witnessed a remarkable growth within myself. The discipline of choosing intention over fleeting emotional desire, consciously directing my will towards a chosen path, has forged a strength and resilience I never knew possible. And it is one of the reasons we should be ruthless towards ourselves -- in the name of our ambitions.

This is not to say that emotions are irrelevant. They are a vital part of the human experience, and they play a crucial role in shaping our desires. But by recognizing the cognitive dimension of desire, by understanding it as a choice we can make, we gain a powerful tool for shaping our own lives.

We can learn to desire beyond the limitations of our immediate feelings, to reach for goals that may not yet ignite our passions but hold the promise of long-term fulfillment and growth.

So, let us move beyond the simplistic notion of desire as a mere feeling. Let us embrace its intellectual complexity, with its power as a conscious choice. Let us choose desire, regardless of emotion, and watch our potential expend in its application. For we are more than our emotions, and they are merely part of us.

Fueling Your Power Generator

Have you ever felt pulled in two directions: one driven by your immediate feelings, the other by a deeper set of aspirations, not necessarily aligned with one another in any way? This internal tug-of-war often hinges on how we perceive desire itself. Do we see it as a passive battery, draining with every whim, or as a powerful generator waiting to be fueled by our relentless tenacity?

The prevailing view, unfortunately, leans towards the battery model. We are conditioned to believe that our choices are merely reflections of our fleeting emotions, like puppets dancing to the strings of momentary desire. This can be compared to the biblical High Priest's Breastplate, that was used to communicate with a higher power, using the glow of its gemstones. The gem's glow can be compared to the "glow" of our feelings -- absolutely short-term and not within our direct authority.

This perception, however, significantly diminishes our agency and limits our potential. Imagine being told, "You can only act when the battery is recharged." What a paralyzing thought, that we must be recharged by something or someone in order to operate in the world. It is said that writers needs muse, but it is technically false when you can have the tenacity required to write regardless of muses, like a plumber can work regardless of an inspiration to do so.

This is where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) offers a liberating perspective. Through this battery-versus-generator analogy, CBT teaches us to see desire as a dynamic force fueled by our own thoughts and decisions. Just like a generator, our desire can be sparked, nurtured, and amplified through conscious effort and our life philosophies.

From Emotion's Puppet to Ambition's Architect

Think of a fitness goal. Waiting for the elusive "feeling" of wanting to exercise can make your gym membership gather dust in abandonment. Instead, by making a cognitive decision to prioritize your health, regardless of your fluctuating feelings, you become an engineer of your own desire. With each intentional step on the treadmill, with lift of weight you feed the generator of your own hopes and dreams. Slowly, the "feeling" of wanting to exercise catches up, but now it's fueled by the momentum of your conscious choice.

And in it, emotion can merely be a component, rather than a mastermind.

This transformative shift from a passive container to an active designer of desire, holds the key to a life of a vast, relentless possibility. No longer bound to the whims of fleeting emotions, we unlock the power to chart our own course, rise above the lure of temporary satisfaction, and craft a life that resonates with our deepest aspirations.

This shift in perspective is not a denial of emotions, but an evolution beyond their limitations, as we can't exactly deny the fact that they hinder us (as with the example of laziness). Emotions inform our desires, they add color and vibrancy to our ambitions, but they should not be the sole compass guiding our journey.

Let us cast aside the limiting battery model, where desire flickers regardless of our own consent, that can exist regardless of what we feel. In its place, we embrace the boundless potential of an internal, supreme leader, fueled by the steady fire of conscious choice. Here, we become the architects of our own ambitions, carefully directing our will, brick by deliberate brick, to build a life that reflects our honest vision of what we want to be, and what life we want to live.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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