Sunday, September 12, 2010

What would you like from Santa?

Question (Unedited)
Hi im in a philosophy class and im learning about bhuddism, and i have a few things that im confused about.

Im somewhat confused on the subject of ridding oneself of all desires.  I understand the pain desire can bring, and the necessity of getting rid of that in order to obtain nirvana, however, its seems that the striving for enlightenment and the perfection of the self is a form of desire.  Can you help me clarify?

If one was able to fulfill every desire that they had, and therefore recieved no suffereing from unquenched desires, would that man be happier, as happy, or less happy then a man who had no desires, and therefore also no suffering from unquenched desires?

A little while ago i was asked posed the following question:  If you were given the oppurtunity to have your brain removed and put into a vat, and through chemical and electrical stimulation, you could have your every wish and fantasy come true, and it would be as real to you as life is today, and you were guarenteed this for the rest of your natural life, would you do it?  I couldnt find a simple answer to this question.  Every rational fiber of my being tells me to say yes, and this seems like the logical answer to this question, however, i think if this situation were actually presented to me, i wouldnt do it.  But i cant think of one reason why.  How would you answer this question, and why?
Thank you very much for giving me your time.

My comment :
Hi Ph.......,

Thanks for asking me.

Your first question is a play on semantics.  The "desire" the Buddha was referring to was about sensual desires.  Sensual desires refer to desires of the 5 senses.  These sensual desires are unquenchable.  It is the very nature of physical senses.  Take for example, hunger.  Once the hunger is satisfied with intake of food; the process of depletion starts, and after some time one feels hungry again.  Another aspect of sense desire is the stronger feeling of craving.  One's craving to satisfy one's desire is itself a catalyst to crave for more.  When this craving goes unchecked, one becomes crazy!  So the option is opened to anyone who follows the Buddha's teachings:  to continue feeding these desires with more craving, or to come to one's senses to reduce this crazy cycle of on-going "madness".

As for striving for enlightenment, it is a very different concept.  Here we are talking about one's commitment to reduce one's greed, hatred and delusion until complete eradication.  This is not a life-long process, but countless life-processes.  "Desire" is not an appropriate word to describe this journey towards enlightenment.  Of course anyone can still argue until the cows come home that it is still "desire".  So it is up to you to decide.  No big deal if you still insist that it is "desire".   The important thing is that I have given you my opinion.  See, this is the beauty of Buddhism.

<< If one was able to fulfill every desire that they had, and therefore recieved no sufering from unquenched desires,...........>>

The "If" already answered your question.  "Desire" is unquenchable!  It's just like asking "If you can live forever".  We call this foolish renderings.

As for your last question, ask your questioner what he would like from Santa Clause this Christmas!  

Have fun!

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