How to develop Chanda?

Anything you have to add on this subject is welcomed and appreciated.

4 Answers 4


Chanda (Desire) is the first of the Four iddhipada. An important reading in this regard is the Iddhipada Samyutta - The connected sayings on the four bases of spiritual power. Iddhipaada can be defined as the state of reaching completeness or perfection. Iddhiya: of attaining completion or perfection; pado: root or basis. The root or basis of attaining completion or perfection. Hence it is called iddhipada. Desire is considered one of the iddhipada, the bases of success. It is said:

By chanda iddhipada (Chanda Samadhi Padhana Sankhara Samannagata iddhipada) is meant desire to obtain, desire to attain, desire to reach, desire to fulfil, desire to accomplish, The desire indicated here is extreme or excessive desire. There is nothing within or without one's personality that can obstruct that desire. It is the kind of desire that evokes the thought, 'If I do not attain this accomplishment in this life, I shall not rest content. It is better that I die rather than that I shall not attain it.'

One way to develop Chanda is by developing Citta as an iddhipada. Citta iddhipada (Citta Samadhi Padhana Sankhara Samannagata iddhipada) means: attachment to iddhi when one comes in contact with the sasana (Buddha's Dispensation) and hears the Dhamma. It is attachment that is extremely ardent and strong.

...One attains satisfaction and tranquillity only when one's mind is absorbed in matters connected with the iddhi. It is like the absorption of the alchemist engaged in the transmutation of the baser metals into gold or silver. Such an alchemist has no interest in anything else but his alchemy. He forgets to sleep or whether he had slept or eaten. He does not notice anything when out walking. Citta is great absorption or attachment of this nature.

For this you require Viriya (great energy and effort.)

A person with this viriya is infused with the thought that the aim can be attained by energy and effort. He is not discouraged even though it is said to him that he must undergo great hardships. He is not discouraged even though he actually has to undergo great hardships. He is not discouraged even though it is said to him that he must put forth effort for many days, months, and years. He is not discouraged even though he actually has to put forth effort for such long periods.

  • Didnt read it well - will re-read it later after i sleep - but just to get an answer ... so for chanda i need Viriya ? thought the order is opposite - meaning you if you have chanda it helps you have viriya //// also what im trying to figure out is what is the thing i should concern with focus on to get my practice going and steady and strong --- cause i fail again and again and i tried so many approaches to it - not formal meditation - tiny meditaitons - gung ho meditations - i had a teacher and it didnt help to get an advice (and asked a few monks) just frustrating
    – breath
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 10:06
  • in short : i thought if i focus on getting chanda somehow all else falls in to place -- so like everyday you do 3 hours of X that is suppose to give you chanda and its a no fail way to get viriya
    – breath
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 10:07
  • To develop Chanda, one of the other three different qualities will help, as you may have a better hold these other three. There's no particular order to them. Meditation for some, is fired by desire. For others, persistence & the energy of sticking to it, or when the practice is based on the quality of intent, when you dive in and give it your entire attention. Other people find that analysis works. Taming this monkey is not an easy thing. So you have to take baby steps in the beginning. Even if your attempt at meditation takes only a few seconds, or a couple of minutes, be happy about it. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 14:48
  • Its just so very complex - its very strange that a religon like buddhism which is based on the "mind" donst have a clear advice for motivation - for getting chanda
    – breath
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 0:57
  • It is the people that make the Dhamma complicated. It does not have to be so. It is you who is making things hard for yourself. If you could only learn how to take delight in the things that you do in this Path. Learn to take delight in the fact that you’re on the right path, because that delight is what makes the path grow. That is why Sila / Morality is the most important thing, and not meditation. Do not kill even a mosquito. Do not steal even a pin from your workplace. Do not say even a white lie. These are the first step. If you try to meditate without doing these things then it is wrong. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 1:58

To often reflect on the First Noble Truth in the context of a daily life.

And to do maranasati (contemplation of death).


In its introduction to Kāmacchanda (Desire for Sensual Pleasure), Dharmafarer describes or defines Chanda as a "morally neutral" term. It's too long to quote, but:

  • There are 'negative' forms of Chanda which include taṇhā (craving), upādāna (clinging), and desire for sense-objects.

  • Chanda can also be used to describe a 'positive' desire:

    When desire is rooted in any of the three wholesome roots (non-greed, non-hate, non-delusion), it is said to be motivated by a wholesome mind (kusala,citta). Once moved by such a wholesome state, we have the desire (chanda) to arouse and direct our effort to letting go of the evil we have been doing, to keep on avoiding it, to cultivate good, and maintain it. Here, chanda is clearly a word for right effort (sammā vāyāma). The Commentaries regard this as a wholesome desire (kusala-c,chanda), a spiritual desire (or Dharma-moved desire, dhamma-c,chanda), the desire (or will) to create wholesome states.

Assuming it's 'positive' chanda that you want to develop, I think the above suggests several answers:

  • If or given that "chanda is clearly a word for right effort", then learn to develop "right effort". I say that because, because "right effort" is a factor of the noble eightfold path, there might be a lot more spoken and written about "right effort" than there is about "chanda" -- for example here are some quotes about right effort.
  • Understand what's meant by the "three wholesome roots" (and the "three unwholesome roots").
  • It might be worth considering, why did the Buddha do what he did? Well, legend has it was that what triggered Siddhārtha Gautama's search was the Four sights. That fits in with this answer, which gives "first noble truth" and "contemplation of death" as relevant factors.

There is a (non-Buddhist) maxim, that people develop ability in accordance with their need: if you want to increase your ability you should increase your need. A silly example of that is that when I was learning to swim, when I was young, I jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool (then struggled from there to the edge of the pool, and so on, jumping in repeatedly).

In my opinion there are times in life (losing things and/or people you were attached to) when the "need" for dhamma (and maybe the need for mindfulness and so on) become more apparent. I think it wouldn't be nice of me to say that "I hope your chanda increases, because I hope your need increases, because I hope you lose what you're attached to!" Nevertheless that may be what you do for yourself: i.e. you contemplate the nature of attachment, remember that things are impermanent, and so on, so that you're better prepared for such events.

And I guess that's what monks do: i.e. voluntarily renounce various things they might be attached to.

And I guess there are going to be moments, big moments in your life, and little moments in your day, when you become of aware of the first noble truth:

association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha

That might be a time of naturally-occurring "need" on your part. You said in a comment that you want to practice "tiny meditaitons - gung ho meditations" ... it's when/whenever you're aware of 'suffering', that might be when you have an opportunity to "meditate" in one way or another.

I suspect that after a while of practice you might make a 'right effort' earlier, before stress really even arises. For example if you were an alcoholic, then you might suffer a lot, and that suffering might prompt a big effort to quit alcohol. Later you might relapse into alcoholism again, and then repeat this cycle several times. After a while, when you're sober, you might be aware of just a little suffering which is triggering a desire to start drinking ... and be able to forestall that with just a small right effort.

  • I Wonder if theres a word for that "need" - its a good answer i would like to ask a question to expand on this but have no idea how to ask - got an idea for a question ? also do you think giving up attachments is the same as loosing stuff as far as creating the "need" ? cause if so maybe i will just give up stuff but what bothers me is i did give up stuff more than ones - kept 8 precepts (with and without meditation) so i guess i had the "need" still didnt help me get to a regular practice - or to some advancement (getting less attached ect)
    – breath
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 23:30
  • Unfortunately, as I wrote in the answer, that saying that ability develops as a result of need is, as far as I know, not a specifically-Buddhist concept. But dukkha is sometimes translated as "stress", maybe that's a word that would approximate "need" in this context: i.e. you "need" when you experience dukkha (or suffering). I suppose you also "need" when you experience unwholesome roots (you need wholesome roots), or kilesas.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 9:44
  • In your case I'm guessing that you think you "want Chanda" (the English word "want" can mean "I desire Chanda", or "I experience a lack, an absence of Chanda") ... you want Chanda, as an antidote to what you think is a "meditation hindrance".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 9:47
  • When someone experiences a major or minor loss in their life is, IMO, an example of their having a need.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 9:52

Simple answer: you get motivation from thinking. Thinking about the consequences of doing this way or doing that way, or consequences of not doing anything. Tell yourself a story, add details, tell it again, focus on the details that make the point - here you go, motivation. If you can't tell yourself a story, then read a story. Or go to a place that inspires you. Simple, right? The power of narratives can create miracles - should not be underestimated.

On the deeper level, why do you think you need motivation/desire? Usually it is the other way - desire finds you and makes you run around. Maybe desire is sickness and you are healthy? ;)

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