Suppose there was a huge ladder and everybody in the world was asked to stand on it in ascending order of success in any field such as beauty or intelligence. You would probably position yourself somewhere in the middle of the ladder. There are many people above you but there are also many people below you. Seeing the people above you causes you to feel jealous, so you constantly try to become better than them in order to move further up the ladder.
Now at some point in your life, you may realize the uselessness of this never-ending game. Then you want to jump off the ladder. You look down. Now what do you see? There are so many people below you. Suddenly you start feeling happy to see so many people below you and you feel hopeful because you are not as inferior as you thought you were when you were looking at the people above you.
This is where the fight starts.
When you look up, you feel miserable, but when you look down, you feel happy.
Now even though you begin to realize the futility of spending your life just climbing the ladder, still you are not able to jump off the ladder because if you jump off, you will be left alone – there will be nobody above you or below you.
When you are on your own at home, you may think it is so nice that you have a beautiful home and a lovely car for yourself. You may feel satisfied with yourself and relaxed inside. After some time, when you step out of your house and go for a drive in your car, you stop at a traffic light and notice a flashy, new Mercedes alongside you. What happens? Suddenly you start feeling that maybe your car is not all that great after all. Now a thought comes, ‘It is time to buy a new car…maybe a Mercedes.’
Just sometime back, you were happy with your own things, but now seeing somebody else’s car, a desire has entered you to have that same car. You have borrowed the desire of that car owner – this is called a borrowed desire born out of comparison.
This borrowed desire is an example of a want, not a need. Try this: do an honest analysis of each of your desires when they surface. Drop all your prestige problems and do a self-analysis. If you can’t drop your prestige when you are alone, how will you drop it when you are with people!
The very nature of the mind is to not be satisfied, not be happy, and not be in the present moment. The mind can only exist either in the past or the future. It cannot exist in the present because you cannot have thoughts in the present moment. So, by its very nature, the mind will chase desires. We have to be aware and see which desires are actually ours and which we have borrowed from others.
Mahaveera, the enlightened master and founder of the religion of Jainism, makes a beautiful statement, ‘When you are born, the entire quantity of food and energy that you will need during your lifetime is sent along with you.’
Before sending you to planet earth, Existence equips you with the energy to fulfill all that you will need to live a happy and fulfilling life.
But when you start spending this energy to realize borrowed desires, you feel you don’t have enough energy to fulfill all your desires. You feel unfulfilled because your own desires have not been fulfilled.
You have enough energy to fulfill all of your needs but not your wants. The moment one want is fulfilled, many more come up as you borrow more desires from others.
source: Living Enlightenment