A Study in Karma


Annie Besant


Published in 1917


Annie Besant

1847 - 1933



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Will and Desire



Desire and Activity remain to be considered. Will is the energy prompting to action, and while it is attracted and repelled by outside objects, we call it desire, the lower aspect of Will, as thought is the lower aspect of Cognition.


If a man, confronted by a pleasure-giving object, grasps it without thought, he is moved by desire; if he holds himself back, saying: "I must not enjoy it now, because I have a duty to perform," he is moved by Will. When the energy of the

Self is controlled and guided by right reason, it is Will: when it rushes out unbridled, drawn hither and thither by attractive objects, it is Desire.


Desire arises in us spontaneously; we like one thing, we dislike another, and our likes and dislikes are involuntary; are not under the control of the Will nor of the reason. We may make up reasons for them when we wish to justify them, but they are elemental, non-rational, precedent of thought. None the less may

they be brought under control, and changed – though not directly.


Consider physical taste; an olive, preserved in brine, is offered to a child, and is generally rejected with disgust. But it is a fashionable thing to like olives, and your people persevere in eating them, determined to like them, and presently they are fond of them. They have changed their disliking to liking.


How is the change of taste brought about? By the action of Will, directed by the mind.




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