Determination is distilled desire directed decisively

To achieve anything challenging, we need determination. How can we develop this elusive thing called determination?

To understand, let’s divide determination into its components. Essentially, determination is distilled desire directed decisively. 

  • Desire: The starting point of determination is desire. When we desire something, and desire it strongly, we pursue it and persevere in pursuing it even amidst obstacles. And such perseverance is determination.
  • Distilled: Just as a distilled liquid is purified of all extraneous elements, our desires need to be distilled so that all impurities external to our core self are purged out. Then the distilled desires for the things that matter most drive us. Otherwise, some of our many lower desires may make us hooked to unworthy things. Addicts could be said to be determined for their object of addiction. But their determination is destructive – it is obstinacy.
  • Directed: Desire can be compared to a flashlight that illumines the path ahead. Our vision follows our intention. If our desires are undirected or misdirected, the phenomenal power of desires gets dissipated on trivialities. When we direct our desire constructively, we notice doors that we would otherwise overlook. 
  • Decisively: If a flashlight keeps roving up and down, left and right, round and round, then it can’t illumine the path ahead clearly. Similarly, if we keep second-guessing ourselves, desiring first this thing and then that, we can’t clearly perceive either our purpose or the path to our purpose. When we are decisive, determination follows naturally. 

How can we develop these components of determination? One way is by practicing bhakti-yoga with whatever determination we presently have. Such spiritual practice distills our desires and gives us the inner intelligence to direct them decisively (Bhagavad-gita 10.10). No wonder the Gita declares that those on the spiritual path are determined (02.41). 


Think it over:

  • How is desire the starting point of determination?
  • Why do our desires need to be distilled?
  • How can we develop determination?

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