Desirelessness is a direction. If you follow it as a rule then you will start killing your desires. Many have done that, millions have done that – they start killing their desires. Of course this is mathematical, this is logical. If desirelessness is to be achieved then this is the best way, to kill all desires. Then you will be without desires but you will also be dead. You have followed the rule exactly, but if you kill all desires you are killing yourself, you are committing suicide because desires are not only desires, they are the flow of life energy. Desirelessness is to be achieved without killing anything. Desirelessness is to be achieved with more life, with more energy, not less.
For example, you can kill sex easily if you starve the body, because sex and food are deeply related. Food is needed for your survival, for the survival of the individual, and sex is needed for the survival of the race, of the species. They are both food, in a way. Without food the individual cannot survive and without sex the race cannot survive – but the primary is the individual. If the individual cannot survive then there is no question of the race.
So if you starve your body, if you give so little food to your body that the energy created by it is exhausted in day-to-day routine work, your walking, sitting, sleeping; if no extra energy accumulates then sex will disappear. Because sex can be there only when the individual is gathering extra energy, more than he needs for his survival. Then the body can think of the survival for the race. If you are in danger then the body simply forgets about sex.
Hence so much attraction for fasting, because if you fast sex disappears. But this is not desirelessness, this is just becoming more and more dead, less and less alive. In India, Jaina monks have been fasting continuously just for this end, because if you fast continuously and you are constantly on a starvation diet, sex disappears. Nothing else is needed, no transformation of the mind, no transformation of the inner energy – simply starving helps.
Then starvation becomes habitual. And if you continuously do it for years, you will simply forget that sex exists. No energy is created, no energy moves to the sex center. There is no energy to move! The person exists just as a dead being. There is no sex.
But this is not what Patanjali means. This is not a desireless state. It is simply an impotent state, energy is not there. Give food to the body…you may have starved the body for thirty or forty years: give right food to the body and sex reappears immediately. You are not changed – the sex is just hidden there waiting for energy to flow. Whenever energy flows it will become alive again.
So what is the criterion? The criterion has to be remembered: be more alive, be more filled with energy, vital…and become desireless. Only then, if your desirelessness makes you more alive then you have followed the right direction. If it simply makes you a dead person you have followed the rule. It is easy to follow the rule because no intelligence is required. It is easy to follow the rule because simple tricks can do it. Fasting is a simple trick. Nothing much is implied in it, no wisdom is going to come out of it.
There was one experiment in Oxford. For thirty days a group of twenty students were totally starved – young, healthy boys. After the seventh or eighth day they started losing interest in girls. Nude pictures were given to them and they were indifferent. And this indifference was not just bodily, even their minds were not interested – because now there are methods to judge the mind.