Too many desires

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Too many desires

Postby dragonwarrior » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:07 pm

Desires make me suffer.. But without it, what do I live for? Should I live my life without any want? IDK.. :shrug:
What do you think?


Metta,
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Re: Too many desires

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:16 pm

Greetings Winny,

Focus and address craving rather than desire.

Sometimes desire in the broader sense can encourage us to do wholesome activities. For example, a desire to be peaceful and wise might encourage us to meditate or study Dhamma.

:meditate: :reading:

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Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Too many desires

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:20 pm

Health is the highest gain. Contentment is the greatest wealth.
The trustworthy are the best kinsmen. Nibbāna is the highest bliss. (Dhp v 204)
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Re: Too many desires

Postby Fede » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:26 pm

Winny wrote:Desires make me suffer.. But without it, what do I live for? Should I live my life without any want? IDK.. :shrug:
What do you think?


Metta,
Winny


As Retro so rightly says, Some desires could be said to be skilful.
Like the desire to practice the dhamma, and cultivate metta...
These are wholesome desires.
but if a desire becomes a craving - an obsession - then the craving/obsession becomes greater than the object of desire...
THEN, it is damaging, and you suffer.

Learn to desire, but whilst practising, to be ready to release that desire.
Like the desire to win a race....
Do your best, achieve your best, run the race.

But win? Great, now let go.
But lose? Great, now let go.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Too many desires

Postby Michael_S » Mon Dec 28, 2009 1:47 pm

Some thoughts and a quote concerning the difference between "craving" and "desire" are
outlined at: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/becono3.html

While not technically an economic concern, I would like to add a few comments on the subject of contentment. Contentment is a virtue that has often been misunderstood and, as it relates to consumption and satisfaction, it seems to merit some discussion.

The tacit objective of economics is a dynamic economy where every demand and desire is supplied and constantly renewed in a never-ending and ever-growing cycle. The entire mechanism is fueled by tanha. From the Buddhist perspective, this tireless search to satisfy desires is itself a kind of suffering. Buddhism proposes the cessation of this kind of desire, or contentment, as a more skillful objective.

Traditional economists would probably counter that without desire, the whole economy would grind to a halt. However, this is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of contentment. People misunderstand contentment because they fail to distinguish between the two different kinds of desire, tanha and chanda. We lump them together, and in proposing contentment, dismiss them both. A contented person comes to be seen as one who wants nothing at all. Here lies our mistake.

Obviously, people who are content will have fewer wants than those who are discontent. However, a correct definition of contentment must be qualified by the stipulation that it implies only the absence of artificial want, that is tanha; chanda, the desire for true well-being, remains. In other words, the path to true contentment involves reducing the artificial desire for sense-pleasure, while actively encouraging and supporting the desire for quality of life.


More of this at:
http://www.economicexpert.com/a/Tanha.htm

As a newbie, I am more concerned with finding a life that lies on the "Middle Way",
and thus reduce dukkha and increase metta, as I vaguely understand them at my
present simplistic level of understanding. In other words, live a satisfactory life without
totally shutting myself off from it. I suppose "craving" vs "desire" could be a thread on its own.
Possibly they could be interpreted to mean the same thing, or not. Be well.
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Re: Too many desires

Postby BlackBird » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:41 pm

Well, without craving nothing would happen, we wouldn't eat or drink water. Craving and desire are the functions of life itself, but that's exactly what keeps us caught up in burning cycle of Dukkha.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Too many desires

Postby seanpdx » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:15 pm

"The Philosophy of Desire in the Buddhist Pali Canon", David Webster, 2005

Webster begins with desire in western thought, and desire in non-buddhist indian religion, then moves on to the varieties of desire in buddhism, and the dynamics of desire in buddhism. Intriguing read.
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Re: Too many desires

Postby dragonwarrior » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:24 am

Still a little bit confused :tongue:
But, how about goals for the future? Is it okay since it will only bring suffering if I can't attain them.
Only the matter of letting go, isn't it?
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Re: Too many desires

Postby Dan74 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:25 am

At a recent talk at Monash Uni in Australia, Ajahn Sumedho talked about idealistic and goal-oriented mind-set. From memory, he was talking about how constantly comparing ourselves with some ideal or worrying about achieving some goal, saps energy from working on it here and now, and how when he realized this, his meditation practice proceeded a lot better.

Basically in practice, it is best to attend to here and now. While you may have long-term goals, the best you can do is work on achieving them now, rather than worrying or dreaming about what may or may not happen.

True satisfaction is doing one's best.

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Re: Too many desires

Postby Michael_S » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:16 pm

I am also quite confused and want clarification. There appear to be many folks who think that
all desire leads to suffering (dukkha). Apparently they
seek to eradicate all desire from their lives since this will lead to "enlightenment."

These folks always lump together the words "craving and desire" as if they are identical.
I distinguish between the two. They mean two different things.
"Craving" is something that usually leads to unhappy results (my observation after 61 years).
I've known my fair share of alcoholics, obsessed individuals, drug addicts, ultra-rich bankers, fanatics, etc.
Most (but not all) of them appear to have suffered as a result of their "craving".

Unhappy results from "desire" occur virtually never (for me).
I desire to attend a film with my son, we are thrilled during the film, rave together
about it afterward over a light dinner at the pub, go home and recall some of the best
scenes with fond remembrance, then sleep.
There has been no "suffering" or "dukkha" as a result of this desire to see a film and acting upon it.

If the theater was closed when we got there, we would go to another or to the pub and have our evening together.
Is the Buddha saying to extinguish the desire to go to the movies with my son?

On the other hand, there may be some who absolutely must see this film or else.
Its the absolutely must part that leads to the dukkha, the grave disappointment at not getting to see it. This is "craving."

The book mentioned a few posts ago about "desire" points out that there are
seventeen Pali words that have all been translated as "desire" into English by various authors.
So, I am uncertain of what the Buddha really meant about all this. Something is getting lost in the translating.
I've read a bit of the Canon (in English) and see some contradiction.

Leading a life that seeks to extinguish all desires is not something I "desire."
It looks more to me like a total withdrawal from life itself into complete apathy,
clinical depression, schizoid personality disorder, or something resembling mental suicide.

Leading a life that is free of "craving" after things that will provide grave disappointment upon their loss may be attractive.
Yet many are willing to accept disappointments upon the loss of what is "theirs."
It is possible to accept loss with equanimity. The Greek Stoic, Epictetus comes to mind.

The basics like food, water, air, heat, shelter, etc do not provoke "desires" or "cravings", they are needs.

Anyway, I sit on the Newbie fence as far as Buddhism goes and remain undecided about much of it.
The practice of mindfulness has been helpful to me,
but the idea that all desires lead to suffering is probably not what the Buddha meant.
If he did, then he was mistaken.
-m
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Re: Too many desires

Postby Dan74 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:51 pm

Personally I think that worrying about these things is counter-productive and that was also Ajahn Sumedho's message, I believe. Attend to what needs attending right now. Give it 100%. Full attention. This is challenge enough. Desire will take care of itself in due course.

Not to say that basic ethics don't need to be respected. They do. But this path is about awareness not suppression.

The Middle Way is a gentle way.

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Re: Too many desires

Postby seanpdx » Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:32 pm

Michael_S wrote:There has been no "suffering" or "dukkha" as a result of this desire to see a film and acting upon it.


Had you seen some of the terrible movies I've seen, you wouldn't say this. *grin* Wow. Talk about suffering. *shudder*

Michael_S wrote:The book mentioned a few posts ago about "desire" points out that there are
seventeen Pali words that have all been translated as "desire" into English by various authors.
So, I am uncertain of what the Buddha really meant about all this. Something is getting lost in the translating.
I've read a bit of the Canon (in English) and see some contradiction.


Indeed. If we go the obvious route, the second noble truth (origin of dukkha = craving) uses the word "tanha" (thirst). Never take english translations at face value, no matter how good the translator. At the very least, key terms (like dukkha, tanha, upadana, et cetera) ought to be investigated so they can be properly understood.

Michael_S wrote:The basics like food, water, air, heat, shelter, etc do not provoke "desires" or "cravings", they are needs.


Yes and no, but look at that word tanha again: thirst. Thirsting for water serves a purpose. Without it you die. But thirsting for non-necessities?

Michael_S wrote:Anyway, I sit on the Newbie fence as far as Buddhism goes and remain undecided about much of it.
The practice of mindfulness has been helpful to me,
but the idea that all desires lead to suffering is probably not what the Buddha meant.
If he did, then he was mistaken.
-m


It's not what he meant. =) But I don't think he meant a lot of what people think he meant...
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