‘Desire’ is a term covering all the qualities of Nafs. It prevents union, tortures the disciple, and stands against the seeker. It is to be opposed and not to be gratified. “He who follows it is ruined; he who opposes it attains his object.”

Desires are twofold: (a) those connected with the senses and sex; (b) ambition of power and fame. The victims of the former resort to brothels without seriously affecting the well-being of others. The victims of the latter resort to holy places, and become the pests of the world. They isolate themselves from society and mislead others. He who seeks the allegiance of his desires is far away from God, be he above the sky; he who renounces his desires is in close touch with God, be he in a heathen temple.

Master Ibrâhîm says: “I went to see a Jewish monk in Turkey, who had confined himself in a temple for seventy years. He opened a window and said he had not shut himself up there to secure the position of an ascetic, but to break the dog within him and restrain it from harming the world at large. I praised God for showing the right path to his misguided devotee. He went on, ‘Ibrâhîm, how long will you seek men?—Seek the self, and watch it when found. The desire-nature constantly puts on many a semblance of divinity, and invites man to his ruin.” . . . .

It is said of Master Abû Alî that he wished to cut off his genital organ, as the root of lust, when his eyes fell on it while bathing. A Voice whispered to his soul, “By My honour, no organ is better or worse than another in My eyes. If you lop it off, I can put in each hair of your body the whole lust of your genital organ.” It is no use destroying the organ: it is a vehicle for carrying the divine command. But a man can transmute its quality, God helping.—Letter 82.