4

In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta the Buddha said "desire is source of all suffering". So we cannot avoid suffering in life. It is a part of life.

However, he also said there was a path to the cessation of this suffering, which was following the eightfold path. The main point of this seemed to be ending that desire. Or clinging to that desire.

But does this teaching work for real life? It is true that desire leads to suffering but desire ALSO leads to pleasure. As long as we are experiencing that pleasure in the moment without expecting more, is there anything wrong with desire?

Like the Buddha, many monks live very detached lives of routine. They don't have jobs or families so essentially they dont form bonds with other people. Essentially they try to minimize desire in life and posssibly only have desire for the distant goal of nirvana. If another monk becomes sick or dies, there may be little suffering but it is accepted. If we want the human race to survive, everybody cannot live like the monks. They have to form lasting bonds which I admit is a form of clinging. At the very least don't mothers have to nurture their children at least for a while?

Here is an example of a real world situation. How would it be approached using Buddhist methods?

A child comes home from school and the mother sees he has bruises. He says a bully has beaten him up. The mother notifies the school and they notify the parents of the bully. But it turns out the bully is acting the way he does since he comes from a dysfunctional family and his parents have no wish to correct his behavior.

4

It's not desire that leads to pleasure, it is ("good") action that does.

Desire in and of itself is blind, it just wants, craves. Desire does not always translate into good action.

Instead, 1) There could be passive frustrating hopeless desire. 2) There could be blind desire that makes you act in self-destructing ways.

So desire for pleasure could very well lead to suffering. Either (1) suffering of frustrating hopeless desire, or (2) suffering of a bad side-effects of careless action.

What leads to pleasure is "good" action. Good action is action that not only creates short-term pleasure, but creates indirect/latent causes for more pleasure and peace and harmony in the long-run! Good action is strategic!

What's wrong with desire for pleasure? Desire for pleasure is not strategic. Desire for pleasure tends to be either short-sighted or careless in terms of side-effects.

Now, you could ask, how can there be action without desire? Very simple! It is action informed by education, or right understanding, or shame, or honor, or fear etc. Not all action comes from desire.

Finally, you should understand that in Buddhism pleasure is seen as inherently short-term and prone to side-effects, so per Buddhism the better goal is "peace" or "harmony". Therefore in Buddhism we say that right action, the one that comes from right understanding, leads to peace and harmony.

3

In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Buddha said "craving (tanha) is source of all suffering". So, tanha (craving) can be avoided. It does not have to be part of life.

The Buddha said there was a path to the cessation of this suffering, which was following the eightfold path. The 2nd factor of the eightfold is path is 'right desire' or 'right intention'.

Therefore, the Buddha taught about two types of desire: (i) unwholesome desire, which is called 'craving' ('tanha'); & (ii) wholesome desire, which is called 'right intention'.

This is why the teaching works for real life. In all the things we need to do in life that bring us real happiness, we engage right desire to pursue that wholesome happiness rather than craving.

Desire actually does not lead to pleasure. Pleasure arises from sensations of the nervous system. Pleasure creates desire rather than desire created pleasure.

For example, if we desire pleasure from meditation, it is not the desire that brings happiness. What brings happiness is the calming of the breathing, body & mind.

Although unwholesome desire can lead to actions that give rise to pleasure, it is very difficult to experience that unwholesome desire in the moment without expecting more. This is why people get addicted to things, such as getting addicted to drugs. A person thinks: "I will just try this drug once" but eventually they get addicted. This occurs because unwholesome pleasures generate or condition unwholesome desires into the mind that pop up again in the future.

Like the Buddha, many monks live very detached lives of routine. They don't have jobs or families so essentially they don't form bond s with other people. Essentially they try to minimize desire in life and posssibly only have desire for the distant goal of nirvana. If another monk becomes sick or dies, there may be little suffering but it is accepted.

However, if we want the human race to survive, everybody cannot live like the monks. They have to form lasting bonds which is a form of clinging. This is why Buddhism does not teach all people should or must become monks. Buddhism teaches the life of a monk is for the few rather than for the many.

This is also why the Buddha gave many excellent & wise teachings to help people live a family life as happy as possible.

Here is an example of a real world situation. This is how it would be approached using Buddhist methods.

A child comes home from school and the mother sees he has bruises. He says a bully has beaten him up. The mother notifies the school and they notify the parents of the bully. But it turns out the bully is acting the way he does since he comes from a dysfunctional family and his parents have no wish to correct his behavior.

The Buddhist action here is twofold: (i) forgive the bully due to his dysfunctional circumstances; and (ii) act with right intention to ensure the bully does not harm other children.

If the bully was an adult, he can be put into prison to protect society. However, even if the bully is a murderer, Buddhists cannot apply the death penalty to the murderer. They can only restrain the murderer (in prison).

  • desire does not 'cause' happiness but I think we can say desire 'leads' to happiness. Or at least the seeking out of happiness. If I did not desire peace from the endless chatter of my mind, I would not seek out meditation. – Anoop Alex Nov 18 '16 at 7:47
0

In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta the Buddha said "desire is source of all suffering". So we cannot avoid suffering in life. It is a part of life.

You can limit the pain. Due to different Niyamas you get experiences of pleasure, displeasure and neutral sensations. 1st when you experience this as and experience through the 5 faculties followed by mental experience.

If you exercise equanimity the mental main is cut off. No mental reaction means you this experience is not proliferating into future experiences.

All experiences are essentially unsatisfactory.

It is true that desire leads to suffering but desire ALSO leads to pleasure.

Desire can be devoid of attachment. See @Dhammadhatu 's answer.

When you reach Nirvana it is pressure as it is is not dependent on impermanent feelings which is the source of unsatisfactoriness.

To be detached is to be equanimous. Still being equanimous and liberate you can care for other. The foremost example is the Buddha himself.

Coming to your example at the end, correcting some one does not mean in action or being reactive. It is to be proactive. If the mother looses her temper and acts this is reactive. If she maintains her composure and acts it is proactive. The latter is the Buddhist way.

0

It is true that desire leads to suffering but desire ALSO leads to pleasure.

Be careful not to mix pleasure & desire. The first one is a feeling, the second one is a reaction (liking, wanting to keep/experience again). It is true to some extend that sensual desire itself can feel pleasant, even though it is/leads to suffering. There are a lot of very distinct similes in the Suttas regarding sensual pleasures, where sensual desire is compared to

with the following explanation:

"In the same way, householder, a disciple of the noble ones considers this point: 'The Blessed One has compared sensuality to a pit of glowing embers, of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks.' Seeing this with right discernment, as it actually is, then avoiding the equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity, he develops the equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness, where sustenance/clinging for the baits of the world ceases without trace.

Regarding your question with the example, a Buddhist would probably respond that there are two layers of reality: relative and ultimate. In relative reality you would try to prevent your kid from getting bullied. In ultimate reality, where there are no beings, but only experience, you would understand that the only thing that can make you suffer is your own desire and nothing else.

0

I think there is a perception that the middle way is very narrow. You discover the Dhamma, place your faith in it, and aim for the cessation of suffering - ignoring everything else. In my opinion, this is only one side of the road - a necessary one, because without right effort progress along the path is not possible.

Theravada Buddhism aims to attain this state of Arahantship. Mahayana Buddhism aims for the Bodhisattva ideal however, where the individual practices the path for the well being of all life on earth. This is no different from the Arahant ideal, but the framing can be seen as different. Like two sides of the road - one side concentrating on the internal, the other concentrating on the external.. it would also make sense that the Noble Eightfold Path is not some 'extreme middle ground', as the Buddha asked his followers to cast off all extremes. And either utterly detaching yourself from the world for your own aim (at the expense of the world), or utterly attaching yourself to the world for its benefit (at the expense of your own progress) are both extremes!

As for craving, there is no need for it within normal relationships. A Buddhist practitioner of any denomination would strive to practice the four immeasurables: loving kindness, boundless compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity (found within the Metta Sutta). A lasting bond does not require the craving for that bond to continue for ever (evidently impossible anyways!), the above four virtues are enough. It is also hard to argue how any individual who practices the above could be seen as 'detached' in any way that would be perceived as negative.

Equanimity, Upekkha, is not indifference incidentally.. best to quote Bhikkhu Bodhi:

“The real meaning of upekkha is equanimity, not indifference in the sense of unconcern for others. As a spiritual virtue, upekkha means stability in the face of the fluctuations of worldly fortune. It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. Upekkha is freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one's fellow human beings. True equanimity is the pinnacle of the four social attitudes that the Buddhist texts call the 'divine abodes': boundless loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. The last does not override and negate the preceding three, but perfects and consummates them.”

For the bully example, the Dhammapada starts off with:

“He was angry with me, he attacked me, he defeated me, he robbed me” - those who dwell on such thoughts will never be free from hatred. “He was angry with me, he attacked me, he defeated me, he robbed me” - those who do not dwell on such thoughts will surely become free from hatred.

To the bullied child, this is the simplest advice (as well as the advice to practice the four virtues towards the bully).

As for the bully, the Buddha gave a discourse to his son, Rahula, in Majjhima Nikaya 61 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.061.than.html

"Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any bodily action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

The bully's actions will end up having negative consequences (karma) for himself through his own wrong actions. Having compassion for him, the parent of the bullied kid should try and explain this to him and his parents, but if they do not listen then it is for them to learn for themselves. Buddhism denies the ideology of violence, whether physical or mental, therefore no method beyond 'think, speak and act by example' is embraced.

It is interesting to point out that the Buddha as depicted within the Tripitaka was not detached in the way you perceive of Buddhist monks. He formed a life long relationship to those within his Sangha, even if not defined within the framework of having any desire for such a relationship. In fact, because he lead a homeless life dependent on the food of householders, he was engaged with the world as a whole. I have yet to read of him rejecting an offer to teach the Dhamma to anyone within the Sutta Pitaka, including those that threatened his life. In my opinion, he tread the whole middle way, engendering both the detached Arahant ideal, as well as the Bodhisattva ideal of being (not wishing, since he was the Buddha after all!) for the benefit of all beings. The two ideals don't exclude but rather reinforce each other - it is much easier to be filled with loving kindness for all when there is no desire for one's own self to interfere in the equation!

0

The first part of the question is about desire.

Desire is relative and not universal. It is not based on truth. It can even worse, it can lead anyone to magical illusion.

In this world of materialism, material is power but not everywhere. You will definitely see the very sophisticated material or the very expensive material is practically useless in some corner of world. This fact indicate the desire of owning this material is very relative meaning. One you admired is vain for other or other place. This the very beginning fact is about futility of desire.

Secondly, materials are always improving. If you earn one today, tomorrow better one come out and you will be jealous about other people who own it if you cannot make up your mind properly. And materialism world is endless abyss, bottomless abyss. There is no such case you will get extinguished your desire, the is no such thing/material with ultimate/optimal stage to be possessed. So cultivating, letting grow and hardworking to fulfill your desire is endless cycle of dog chasing it own tail; it will never stop.

It is part of the life? It definitely not part of the life. It is what you want to believe. You want to own a material that is so sophisticated and it will going to change your life (like you are being deceived by advertisement). You made it yours by bloody and hardworking ways. After some time later it turn out not making pleasure/happiness you expected. This is the most case currently we are having, only the different of time taken to realize the truth, some people never realize, but the vain is obvious to them even if they do not want to believe. So this the third state of illusional about desire.

If the desire is not about material, but for mental state/condition, it is more illusional.

We all do judge wrong about material, desire, happiness, pleasure. But Buddha did indicate that we are mislead by desire. Desire does not send us a better place, peace; instead it makes suffering, endless struggle, illusional happiness (in this case, you are traveling in desert and you see illusion of water, you may be happy to see illusional water but you will never get a drop to drink).

Buddha guided us to live a better life; to have goal/achievement oriented life. So in Buddha's teachings, you can find the way/path to ultimate/final goal free from continuous struggles and sufferings. Many Suttas are guidance to you, path to you. You are the one to walk along the path to ultimate extinguishing of desire, no one can send you. So there is a way/path, it is up to you to follow it.

The second part of question is caring, nurturing child. Because you have to raise the child, for the people who stay in the house it is their duties/responsibilities to make your child well grown up, healthy and morally disciplined. There are many ethical guides both in Buddha's teachings and outside of Buddha's teachings. And also regional ethical aspect should be respected as well. There is no conflict between self liberation free from desire and nurturing your child. You should know the time when one is needed to practice and one is needed to complete. It is something like you make your own good and you make other people good. A good balancing is required.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.