Thread: Is Desire the Root of Suffering?

  1. #1

    Is Desire the Root of Suffering?

    Secular Buddhist Doug Smith talks for about 18 minutes:

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    Any comments about the video?

  3. #3
    Global Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    It's an interesting example of the sort of arguments which abound in Buddhism, often to do with replacing original words with English (or any other language) words which weren't designed for such a task. 'Desire' has many meanings depending on context like most words in English. Using the original doesn't really help because you still need a shared understanding of each term, in English. We could possibly combine words in a new way, such as 'skillful desire' to mean those desires employed to further our practice.

    In the end we need discussions such as Doug's to try and bring a bit of understanding to the situation and an end to silly arguments such as, 'You say you want to end desire, but that is itself a desire so your argument is a paradox and so is useless, an so hah to you' or some such comment. As Doug says, suffering is not caused by desires but by unskillful ways of dealing with our human wants and needs and emotions. Instead we gain skills in dealing with them, and as our skills develop the stresses that are the result suffering fade away, as our unskillful desires which cause them fade.

  4. #4
    Some wise words from Ajahn Sumedho:

    Suffering Ends

    by Ajahn Sumedho.

    The third Noble Truth is the truth of cessation. Not only do we let go of suffering and desire, we know when those things are not there. And this is a most important part of meditation practice, to really know when there is no suffering. Suffering ceases, and you are still alive, still aware, still breathing. It doesn’t mean that the world has ended, that everything has become blank; it means that the suffering has ceased. The suffering ends, and there is knowledge of the end of suffering.

    If we don’t notice, we never know when there is no suffering. We only know when there is suffering — ‘I’m suffering.’ We react to it. Our memories tend to be about the extremely pleasant experiences, great successes, and so on, or great misery. We remember when we were very happy, successful, ecstatic, and when we were really down, and life was really painful. But we don’t remember when life wasn’t up or down; we don’t remember when there wasn’t any extreme. So memory itself tends to be the perceptions we form about extreme experiences. As we let go more and more of the heedless reactions, the grasping, then we find the mind that isn’t extreme. When we allow the world to be as it is — the sense world and so forth — we feel a sense of ease and peace. Even if things are not very nice, we can be at ease, and we can respond in an intelligent, gentle, kindly way, an appropriate way.

    This is an example of the life of Gotama the Buddha. His response to the world after his enlightenment was — what? Compassion — tremendous compassion for other beings. He dedicated the remainder of his life, over forty years, solely to the welfare of other beings.

    Cessation, then, is to be fully realized. In meditation, more and more one really sees what suffering is, its arousal, and the cessation of it. There is the knowing of it, what we call insight-knowledge. It’s not theoretical knowledge; it’s not symbolic knowledge; it’s a real insight — knowing from experience, from a clear understanding of the real thing.

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