Saturday, January 15, 2011
Qusetion : (Unedited)
The Four Noble Truths state that desire is the origin of suffering and so if you don't desire you won't suffer. Could the aim of reaching Nirvana be considered a desire and to that extent couldn't wanting to becoming a Buddhist be considered a desire?
Thanks for asking me.
Your 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 aiming to reach Nibbana (Nirvana), 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 Nibbana. “Aspiration” will be a more appropriate word. Of course anyone can still argue until the cows come home that it is still "desire". So it is up to you to analyze and come to your own conclusion as to which is more reasonable. See, this is the beauty of Buddhism.