Why is the desire/attachment in the middle of the Wheel of Life considered negative and the desire of bodhicitta considered positive?

What is the difference between them?


You can think of this in terms of addiction.

For the most common example, let's take addiction to alcohol. The more you desire alcohol and the more you let your desire drive your action, the more you sustain your addiction, which makes you helpless and creates all kinds of trouble for you and others.

Bodhicitta is like desire to stop drinking. You desire to be free from the addiction. Which means you desire to be your own master. You develop the will power to abstain from drinking. You learn to resist the temptation. Moreover, you learn to generate the same type of relaxation and joy that you used to get from alcohol - through other, more healthy means.

The same idea is at play in Buddhism - except in Buddhism the context is much broader, we are not talking about any specific addiction - we are willing to be free from them all, any dependency on anything whatsoever. This is why it's called Liberation, being not bound, not dependent, not addicted, not controlled, free.

The state of mind when you are determined, intent on, convinced, motivated - to be free - which means being actively determined to make every action in context of the four right efforts - is called relative bodhicitta, while the state of having attained Liberation, or rather, mastered it, which basically means having completely mastered the four right efforts - is called absolute bodhicitta.

Now, somewhat counterintuitively, attaining liberation is not always done through passive means like letting go and acceptance. It also requires mastery of will power - particularly mastery over ones thoughts, emotions, mood, motivation, and energy. Not just mastery in the sense of being able to stop them and suppress them or accept - but in the sense of being your own power generator, your own mood maker, your own sustenance. It's the four right efforts, not the two right efforts - this is a very important point!

So these are two very different desires - one is the desire of weakness and addiction, to get your satisfaction from the outside - the other is the desire to be strong and not dependent.

  • Sadhu! Maybe an information or quote of what are the 4 balams would be good. The whole is correct, while the last sentence gives space to wrong, or: "the other is the desire of strength, to generate your own satisfaction." Nyom Andrei? It cortadicts the freedom or? And is just the way desire. – Samana Johann Jun 18 '17 at 2:19
  • ok, I fixed it. Is this better, Samana Johann? – Andrei Volkov Jun 18 '17 at 3:09
  • Looks much better from my persons view, yes. What about the famous Dhammapada verse about 1000 battles not equal conquering one self, Andrei? – Samana Johann Jun 18 '17 at 3:23
  • yes, that's good too :) – Andrei Volkov Jun 18 '17 at 3:43

Within the Pali suttas I recommend the Bhikkhuni Sutta and the Brahmana Sutta.

Even though something (such as desire, for example, or conceit) is to be abandoned in the end it may be, if used rightly (if it has a right goal, or intention), a means ("by relying on it") for arriving there.

  • i would like to upvote, but do you have any evidence that's the origin of the symbol? – user2512 Jun 14 '17 at 22:43
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    Evidence that what, is the evidence of what symbol? I assume that by "the symbol" you mean "the graphical depiction of the the Wheel of Life" ... so you're asking, "do you have any evidence that (what?) is the origin of the wheel of life"? I don't understand what your comment is asking. – ChrisW Jun 15 '17 at 8:29
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    oops my mistake, I misread the grammar of the question Why is the desire/attachment, considered negative, in the middle of the Wheel of Life? and the desire of bodhicitta not and considered positive? – user2512 Jun 15 '17 at 13:18

The wheel of life is about the causes that create suffering, which is unrelated to bodhicitta.

Bodhicitta (the wish to attain enlightenment motivated by compassion for all sentient beings) requires a pure altruistic intention. Where as the wheel of life includes both unwholesome & wholesome desires that result in attachment & suffering.

This is the difference between them.

  • doesn't the wheel of life include wholesome desire too? and if there's a difference, then why say they're "unrelated". just being confused by your answer ! – user2512 Jun 14 '17 at 22:45

Cary Jin,

let Atma give an explaining, and may it be of good use for Cary Jin and all those able to take and rejoice with it.

- Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa -

In the case "Bodhicitta" is understood as aspiration to reach "Bodhi", Awakening, the end of suffering, e.g. the wandering on in samsara, such is a Noble aspiration in the context of the path and a very needed desire to reach Nibbana, called usually positively "chanda" and not "raga" or "lobha".

Without this kind of "Bodhicitta" it's not possible to complete the path and go beyound suffering.

Such a "Bodhicitta" arises undestructable for the rest of the path with reaching the Stream, hence a person of such "Bodhicitta" can be understood as Noble One.

In the case understanding "Bodhicitta" as a motivation behind the aspiration, to reach the end of suffering, e.g. a higher wordily reason or wordily purpose, to reach "Bodhi", such is a defiled aspiration and the "Bodhicitta" of a wordling, merely seeking for becoming, not having heared and being familar of the good Dhamma. While it can be a helpful aspiration to set out in search for a path, here mostly still with a wordily aim, it is in most cases the greatest obstacel, even if standing right in front of the door to stream-enter.

Liking to become a Buddha is based on wrong view.

A very useful essay to get ride of the defilement of self-view, sakkāyadiṭṭhi, of this kind is Freedom From Buddha Nature, starting with:

"What is the mind [citta]? The mind isn't 'is' anything."

— Ajaan Chah

"The mind is neither good nor evil, but it's what knows good and knows evil. It's what does good and does evil. And it's what lets go of good and lets go of evil."

— Ajaan Lee

and it is useful to give it a read, for all those who like to do the task fist, given by the Bhagavato, Arahato, Sammāsambuddho of our times, who knew the path of "being simple a pathfinder" better then anyone, find the path to an end of suffering finally, and left the path, out of inmeasureable goodness - for the worlds beings with less dust in the eyes - behind. So to take it, the sacrify, rightly, is a matter of gratitude, which goes hand in hand with a beings possibility to gain a Noble kind of "Bodhicitta" and the reason why liberation always starts with "Namo". To understand "Namo" rightly , here also a "tantric" approach by Ajahn Mun

A Heart Released - Muttodaya

Practice is what keeps the true Dhamma pure.

The Lord Buddha taught that his Dhamma, when placed in the heart of an ordinary run-of-the-mill person, is bound to be thoroughly corrupted (saddhamma-patirupa); but if placed in the heart of a Noble One, it is bound to be genuinely pure and authentic, something that at the same time can be neither effaced nor obscured.

So as long as we are devoting ourselves merely to the theoretical study of the Dhamma, it can't serve us well. Only when we have trained our hearts to eliminate their 'chameleons' (see § 10) — their corruptions (upakkilesa) — will it benefit us in full measure. And only then will the true Dhamma be kept pure, free from distortions and deviations from its original principles...

And a "nice", maybe insiring "lovestory" around the change for a corrupt "Bodhicitta" to a "Noble Bodhicitta": "THE SPIRITUAL PARTNER"


(Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, came into being by goodness received and gratitude and so given by goodness and gratitude, and not meant for commercial purpose and trade in the world, or any wordily gain.)

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