Desire

seattlegal

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Vaj started a thread about dealing with anger, and the techniques people use to deal with it.

I thought I'd start one about desire: discerning between harmful desire and non harmful desire, and how desire can build towards other emotions. Perhaps exploring how desire affects intention might also be helpful.

(Some commentary regarding the connections between desire and anger were also discussed on the anger thread.)
 
Luk 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Would this be pointed in the right general direction?
 
Luk 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Would this be pointed in the right general direction?
Certainly, especially if you take the preceeding verse with it, which highlights the impermanent, temporary nature of things that satisfy worldly desires, as compared to something more permanent. (See the Art of Happiness Thread for more in this respect. :)
Luke 12:33-34
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won't grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.​
 
Luk 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
So this thread will be about a Biblical answer to the Buddhist view of desire?

I think it's an interesting topic. Not sure it should be in the Eastern Thought/Buddhism area. The Biblical Fall can be seen as a description of the human desire to be like G-d. Recall that's what the Serpent offered.
 
A Biblical answer to the Buddhist view on desire?

I think it's an interesting topic. Not sure it should be in the Eastern Thought/Buddhism area. The Biblical Fall can be seen as a description of the human desire to be like G-d. Recall that's what the Serpent offered.
Desire is a human thing, that we all have to deal with, so I was hoping that this thread might flow along the same lines as Vaj's thread on Anger, which he didn't strictly limit to Buddhist practices/techniques.

{Biblical answers aren't currently well tolerated in the Christianity forum at the moment, either. :eek:}
 
"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." - Hosea 6:6

"Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom." - Psalm 51:6

de·sire (d
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tr.v. de·sired, de·sir·ing, de·sires

1. To wish or long for; want.
2. To express a wish for; request.

n. 1. A wish or longing.
2. A request or petition.
3. The object of longing: My greatest desire is to go back home.
4. Sexual appetite; passion.


I imagine that God has a longing for His people to do right in His eyes. So maybe desire is a divine attribute.
 
I don't know if this helps, but in Christian theology — which assumes a nature disordered but not intrinsically corrupted — we talk of concupiscence as the rising of desires in the human person.

Normally concupiscence is regarded as itself a disorder — invariably lust — but this is not quite accurate.

Desires rise naturally and those of the animal and sensible complex are (or should be) ordered according to the will. If the will has become disordered, then one might say man is steeped in his own subjectivity.

+++

The Cardinal Virtues in Christian theology are incorporated from Greek philosophy (as well as Scriptural exegesis) and can be seen in relation to right-management of self in light of the quite natural desires that arise in the complex: Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude.

Some Christian mystics, Meister Eckhart being one, hold detachment as a virtue above all else.

I'm not sure if there are any parallels between the above and Buddhist philosophy.

Thomas
 
This would be a handy sutta to refer to in this thread:

Mula Sutta (Rooted)

"Monks, if those who have gone forth in other sects ask you, 'In what are all phenomena rooted? What is their coming into play? What is their origination? What is their meeting place? What is their presiding state? What is their governing principle? What is their surpassing state? What is their heartwood? Where do they gain a footing? What is their final end?': On being asked this by those who have gone forth in other sects, how would you answer?"

"For us, lord, the teachings have the Blessed One as their root, their guide, & their arbitrator. It would be good if the Blessed One himself would explicate the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from the Blessed One, the monks will remember it."

"In that case, monks, listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "Monks, if those who have gone forth in other sects ask you, 'In what are all phenomena rooted? What is their coming into play? What is their origination? What is their meeting place? What is their presiding state? What is their governing principle? What is their surpassing state? What is their heartwood? Where do they gain a footing? What is their final end?': On being asked this by those who have gone forth in other sects, this is how you should answer them:

"'All phenomena are rooted in desire.

"'All phenomena come into play through attention.

"'All phenomena have contact as their origination.

"'All phenomena have feeling as their meeting place.

"'All phenomena have concentration as their presiding state.

"'All phenomena have mindfulness as their governing principle.

"'All phenomena have discernment as their surpassing state.

"'All phenomena have release as their heartwood.

"'All phenomena gain their footing in the deathless.

"'All phenomena have Unbinding as their final end.'

"On being asked this by those who have gone forth in other sects, this is how you should answer."
 
I imagine that God has a longing for His people to do right in His eyes. So maybe desire is a divine attribute.

G-d the Father's love is a portrayed as a kind of parental affection. It is unclear whether most humans are capable of spiritual disinterest in any full sense, let alone something that is comparable to G-d's capacity for Divine Love.

Philosopher types since Plato have been trying to spiritualize desire for ages. Have any of them been successful?

Can the ego's interests ever be fully factored out? Even Buddhism, which is a ego-purgation doctrine, allows for the accumulation of merit and virtue, which would seem to have at least some egoistic appeal and for that reason would be aims and lures that provide a focus for egoic desire.
 
I don't know if this helps, but in Christian theology — which assumes a nature disordered but not intrinsically corrupted — we talk of concupiscence as the rising of desires in the human person.

Thomas, I might agree if you substituted Catholic theology for Christian theology. There are Christian schools of thought that consider human nature fundamentally depraved. They maintain that it is precisely because of this fallen nature that Divine Intervention in the form of Christ was necessitated.
 
Desire is a fundamental drive. It can be inferred from the orienting response of most any creature in relation to the world, which is seen as a source of supplies (including narcissistic resources).

In human and animals, the basic drive becomes focused as specific motives. Among humans, it is commonly associated with accumulating things and seeking, getting, and holding onto another person's love. As such, the motive force is toward craving and clinging, that is, maintaining the ego within a framework of egoically desirable resources that would include material possessions as well as people. In a real sense, this is not relating to the person as they are. Nor is it truly loving them for who they are. It is wanting them to be what we need or want them to be.

"Looking for love in all the wrong places" is a default mode for desire. It is often followed by looking for comfort in the wake of resultant disappointment. Very probably, the love we're actually looking for is love of G-d.

Bkakti Yoga offers a possibility. How does it work? Through a love that is its own reward and thus does not involve grasping or trying to possess and control external resources for personal benefit. In Bhakti Yoga, the process is the benefit. As the Narada Bhakti Sutra states: "Bhakti is its own fruit." Elsewhere, Bhakti has been described as "its own means and its own end."
What Is Bhakti? What Is Love Of God? | God, Love, Bhakti, Own, Have

Narada Bhakti Sutra (NBS) 59 recognizes the devotional aspect to be deeply personal: "it does not depend on any other authority for its validity, being itself the standard of authority."

It is also stated that "One achieves bhakti by worshiping the Lord ceaselessly." ~NBS 36. The immediacy helps you to stay in a devotional space and heart enabling remembrance. It is the "most precious possession" that frees you from the need for anything else and thus frees you craving and clinging: "one no longer need worry about worldly loss." ~NBS, 81 & 61


Bkakti brings motives into focus:
NBS 5: A person engaged in such pure devotional service neither desires anything for sense gratification, nor laments for any loss, nor hates anything, nor enjoys anything on his personal account, nor becomes very enthusiastic in material activity.
NBS 9: Renunciation also means being exclusively dedicated to the Lord and indifferent to what stands in the way of His service.
NBS 77: Patiently enduring till the time when one can put aside material happiness, distress, desire, and false gain, one should not waste even a fraction of a second.
Narada Bhakti Sutra

Chances are, if we really internalized what this all means, we would be doing something different from what we are doing now because it's so hard for us to stay in a devotional space. We sometimes go for the World of Absorption as an old standby, surrounding ourselves with lots of interesting ideas, edifying narratives, and beautiful images. That is not our true destination. However, the World of Absorption can be a gateway, a means for becoming aware of our religious duties.
 
The way I view desire is as a flag marking something for conscious attention and/or investigation, with the strength of the desire being a marker such as 'urgent' or 'FYI.' Investigating the origin and cause of these desires often leads to their resolution. This would include things like pain signals {"Right foot hurts!" Upon investigation, you find a rock in your shoe, which you remove to resolve the problem.} This could also include less physical things, like ideas being processed by your subconscious sending you signals pointing towards where to look to bring these ideas to your conscious mind. Another possibility could be that the desire is pointing towards an emotional issue that needs to be examined.

When you investigate the origin and cause of these signals/desires, oftentimes you will find that pain-unsatisfactoriness, or dukka is at the core of desire, which is why I also include pain signals in my view of desire. If you only include things that bring satisfaction/enjoyment in your categorization of desire, you can easily overlook that dukka is often at the core.

I find that insight meditation is quite helpful in dealing with desire. It's like applying the scientific method of observation to your mind, and the methods of inquiry/measurement to the desires that arise in your mind. Once you become aware of the origin and message of each desire, they often subside, or dissipate once an action is taken that might be required to correct the dukka within the desire.

There is a buddhist teaching that the transformation of desire is discriminating wisdom. I would have to agree with this view, in that by investigating each desire, finding its source, and correctly identifying it for what it is often dissipates it and/or transforms it into conscious knowledge/wisdom.
 
The way I view desire is as a flag marking something for conscious attention and/or investigation, with the strength of the desire being a marker such as 'urgent' or 'FYI.' Investigating the origin and cause of these desires often leads to their resolution. This would include things like pain signals {"Right foot hurts!" Upon investigation, you find a rock in your shoe, which you remove to resolve the problem.} This could also include less physical things, like ideas being processed by your subconscious sending you signals pointing towards where to look to bring these ideas to your conscious mind. Another possibility could be that the desire is pointing towards an emotional issue that needs to be examined.
Yes. Also, sometimes desire is intensified in the face of losing a desired object.

I think it's true: intensification of desire can be expected in connection with emotional issues and unconscious ideas. Sometimes they are recurring themes that represent lessons we need to learn in this life. Some common ones pertain to issues of self-acceptance, dependence, responsibility, blame escape, control, faith (or second guessing G-d's goodness), attachment, and such.

They are recurring themes because they keep showing up. Sometimes they become more vivid - principally because they involve a greater allocation of psychic energy.

The energy bound up with these recurring themes often reflect unresolved issues The reason they are unresolved is because of the person' resistance to going forward with the changes they need to be making in their lives, as implied by the unresolved issues. The intensification of desire can be seen as added energy the person is bringing to bear on continued resistance to making the changes and dealing with the issues.

Once someone learns "the lesson," so to speak, the issues no longer has the same meaning and no longer gobbles up energy. The situations that previously triggered intense response may have little effect. Sometimes those situations stop happening entirely, as though there's no further need for them once the person has truly dealt with the issue. The person is then freed up to go on and master other challenges.
 
This would be a handy sutta to refer to in this thread:
"All phenomena are rooted in desire."
"All phenomena are rooted in desire." This was confusing because it seemed to suggest that the phenomenal world of forms is created by desire. That was not the intended meaning. The Mula Sutta is talking about human personality.

The comment on this line clarifies that "the five clinging-aggregates are said to be rooted in desire, an assertion echoed in SN 42.11, which states that suffering & stress are rooted in desire. Here, all the aggregates — whether affected by clinging or not — are said to be rooted in desire."


The five clinging-aggregates or Skandas are identified with human personality. They are said to co-exist in mutual interdependence.
The Buddha says that the five agregates have to be fully understood. This is the first Noble Truth, the truth of Dukkha. The five aggregates are our burden, but at the same time they provide us with the indispensable soil of wisdom. To bring suffering to an end we have to turn our attention around and see into the nature of the aggregates.
The five aggregates are:​


[SIZE=-1]1. Material form.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]2. Feelings.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]3. Perceptions.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]4. Mental formations [/SIZE]

[SIZE=-1]5. Consciousness.[/SIZE]​
These five aggregates exhaust our psychophysical existence. Any event, any occurrence, any element in the mind-body process can be put into one of these five aggregates. There is nothing in this whole experiential process that lies outside them.
~Bhikkhu Bodhi THE TRUE NATURE OF EXISTENCE - By Bhikkhu Bodhi



More detail on the Five Aggregates here:
In Buddhist psychology, the skandas are said to make up the self, our personality--who we are. The word skandas can be translated as "aggregates" or "heaps." There are five skandas, called nama-rupa. Rupa is form, the matter which makes up our bodies. The nama are the mental aggregates: sensation, perception, conception, and consciousness. Sensations are the messages we receive through our sense organs.
Perception occurs when a sensation connects into our brain and we have an idea, perhaps assigning a name to the sensation. For example, we might see a flower and then we might think, "flower." Conception has to do with what meaning the flower has for us; we might think something like, "That flower is really beautiful." Finally, we have consciousness, our awareness of what's going on. What we call the self is essentially a process of all these things happening.
~Sarika Dharma http://www.urbandharma.org/ibmc/ibmc2/selves.html

Note that these processes are considered illusory and empty in the sense that they lack permanence.
 
Namaste all,

thank you for the interesting OP.

i didn't see it explicitly addressed in the thread but if so then it wouldn't hurt to repeat it ;)

there is a general sort of view which finds Buddha Dharma puzzling for a variety of reasons one of which is the misunderstanding regarding desire and the roles that this psychological state manifests.

an oft cited argument that one can find primarily on Muslim apologetics sites frames the argument, paraphrased, thusly: Buddhism teaches that desire is bad and it teaches that one must strive to realize the teachings. You must desire this goal and the use of desire is bad thus Buddhism is contradictory and self-refuting.

the argument, itself, is reflective of the authors own religious paradigm rather than Buddha Dharma and falls into the same quoting out of context data mining that one frequently finds when dealing with apologetics in the Semetic traditions.

generally speaking the issue here is one of definition and selectivity. Desire, even in English, has several different meanings which range from positive to somewhat negative and the intended meaning of the term can only be discerned from within the context of its' usage.

in Buddhism desire is denoted as having three aspects; negative, positive and neutral in terms of how such a psychological state can colour karma. within the context of the OP the question of discernment is somewhat difficult given that we <i'm speaking liberally for us all though i recognize some beings have resolved these issues> have a consciousness which is deluded regarding the nature of things. we have flashes, like a bolt of lightening which rends the night sky revealing everything, of insight into some aspects and such flashes can help guide us along our way.

my estimation is that desire which seeks to benefit others, help them when they need it and such is desire which is positive whereas desire which seeks its' own end, pleasing only oneself, is negative though this is due mainly to the manner in which desire has arisen rather than being a quality distinct to desire per se. in other words desire has a neutral character when non-manifest but changes or adopts the positive or negative character based on the consciousness of the being in whom it arises.

this view of desire is rather simplistic and tends to view it as entirely positive or negative when it arises. within the Buddha Dharma it is taught that all psychological states are combinations in varying degrees and so as we understand the term "love" in English to have several different qualities, maternal, paternal, fraternal, romantic and cheeseburgers, Buddha Dharma teaches that desire also has different qualities though rather than being modified by the way in which it is manifest towards others desire is modified by or to the extent that the being has resolved ignorance.

metta,

~v
 
Vaj,

You forgot two desires in English: :kitty:s and desserts (like ice cream, cheesecakes, blackberry pies, fresh watermelon, etc.) :D

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
 
Thus in Buddhist terms, these are considered positive desires, like the desire to achieve awakening.

The standard by which positive desires can be identified empasizes "sweet." It is said that the Buddha liked lots and lots of brown sugar in his cinnamon rolls and lots of sugary icing on top. ;)

CINNAMON.jpg



Wholesome emotions are the key.
 
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The standard by which positive desires can be identified empasizes "sweet." It is said that the Buddha liked lots and lots of brown sugar in his cinnamon rolls and lots of sugary icing on top. ;)

Listen n-n; the sole position for The One Who Just Makes Stuff Up here at CR is already taken; thanks. ;)

s.
 
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