How Your Desire Causes Suffering or Bliss

When in my mid twenties, I told my Mom that I was going to spend some time staying at a monastery in northern India to meditate and study Buddhist thought with monks, she said, “OK, have fun. Just don’t come back as anything weird this time.”

I think she was referring to the six months I spent as an evangelising born-again Christian after a college-roommate fed me stories about the coming rapture and the elite’s conspiracy for a one world government (I should have seen it coming considering he was using heroin and kept a loaded AK-47 under his bed!).

Anyway…I loved learning about Buddhism. It is one of the simplest philosophies I’ve come across for living an enjoyable life and a lot of my personal philosophy stems from it.

One idea has always niggled at me though: it is the idea that desire causes suffering.

The reason this niggled at me is because elsewhere I honour desire. It is the orientation of that which you have the potential to create. When we follow our desire, we can make a better world and a better life.

So how is desire both a good thing and a bad thing?

Buddhists make the distinction that it is ‘attachment’ to a desire that really causes suffering.  Until recently I wasn’t seeing how a desire typically becomes an attachment.

There seemed to be ‘good desire’ and ‘bad desire’, and I couldn’t find an answer to how one becomes the other.

What I now think it is, is something very simple: ACTION.

Desire without action is frustrating. The time and distance between you and that thing you want gets longer and this begins to cause suffering.

Desire acted upon is satisfying. The time and distance between you and that thing you want gets shorter and this feels blissful.

The less we act on a desire – the more we yearn for it from a standstill – the more that desire hurts.

The more we act on a desire – the more we indulge ourselves in the journey – the more that desire fulfils us.

And so, it is within our will to decide whether our desire will cause us pleasure or pain.

It is your choice to act or not act that determines whether your desire will bring you suffering or bring you bliss.

Which will you choose?

Which will you choose right now?