Are we our Desires, or are they the realm of the mind? Can Desire ever be quenched?

by Daniel

Question:

Love the site made me smile. I do have a question. according to some theologies we are not our desires and that they are the realm of the mind , eventually causing suffering to ourselves for desire can never be quenched. Its just an opinion but i would like your opinion on whether you advocate desire? Who in your opinion is doing the desiring mind or self? hahah sorry thats 2 questions. thanks again for the website it was inspiring.



Answer


Ah, Daniel, What a great question. Or should I say questions. Very deep, Very philosophical. It is true that all great people continue to strive for greatness and in that realm, I suppose desire is not ever quenched, but if these great people did not follow their desires we may never have the light bulb, as Thomas Edison followed his desire to create electric light and failed nearly 10,000 times before finally realizing that desire and succeeding in creating the electric light.

I think the philosophers you may be referring to might be Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates‘, for these great theologians and philosophers believed that desire as a philosophy can be harmful, but ONLY if it is what would be considered bad desire, or in other words to covet something. For example to desire your best friends wife, would be considered a bad desire. However, these great philosophers also agree that good desire, or a desire that creates motion in the direction of a goal is not only a good thing, but it creates motion in a productive direction and is necessary for further advancement in a particular endeavor.

Buddha, also talks about desire being the cause of all suffering. Again though if you look further into what Buddha has to say, I believe you will find he also believes there is both good desire and bad desire and it is bad desire that creates the suffering. Keep in mind Buddha, DESIRED to live a more enlightened life.

According to the dictionaries definition on desire, the word itself simply means a since of longing or hoping. I personally do not believe that hope is a bad thing. I think what these great theologians where referring to is that place in the mind where we sit and hope and long with no action and create a world of despair within ourselves over this longing that we do not take action towards that creates the suffering.

There is a big difference between desiring a thing and pursuing a goal. One has action, one does not. It is the longing that is not followed by action that can create despair and suffering. I would also like to point out that if your desire benefits others as well as yourself it is a good desire, however if your desire would be harmful to others then it is a bad desire and would cause suffering not only for those that it directly impacts, but for the one doing the desiring as well.

Now, to your second question. Who is doing the desiring? The mind or self. Not to be blunt here, but who cares. I mean when you think of a thing can you tell me if it is the mind or the self? Can you distinguish between the two. I personally can not. I believe your mind is part of self and self part of the mind. Together they make up who we are and do we exist one without the other? I don’t believe so.

Our minds change and they evolve and sometimes we can not communicate what our minds are thinking, but yet without them we do not continue to exist, that is my opinion.

Daniel, thank you for asking these questions, really made me think hard before responding. I would love to here what others have to say on this subject. I hope other will share their thoughts as well.

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