Saturday, January 15, 2011

Unquenchable craving

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?

Hi S...,

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.

1 comment:

K Grey said...

Craving is craving. To separate craving for food or sex or possessions from the craving for Nibbana is delusion. Sounds good, and fits some brands of dogma, to talk of this and that, of stopping this and gaining that, spiritual vs mundane pursuits, but that is delusion. Craving is craving.

Not seeing this is attachment to a delusion. Attachment to such conceptual/spiritual/religious delusion is the ultimate obstacle.

Attachment (via craving/grasping/etc) and it's attendant delusion is the root of suffering, not transitory sensory matters - or a lack thereof (just more duality!). One need not forsake all pleasure, only not be caught in it, have expectations of it, etc.

The expectations, the seeking, these all hinder. All spiritual paths themselves become this sort of hindrance at some point. The greatest hindrance in many cases, as practicing harder and such may only compound the error at that point.

Nibbana itself is delusion. A sometimes useful concept (as much as a mental concept can help in any way), and an enjoyable state some may believe themselves to be in at times, that must ultimately also be let go as a separate thing. Enlightenment is not a state. Nibbana and Samsara are one reality. Not parts of one - ONE. Not one out of the other. ONE. Separations = delusion (some of which come in very handy for day to day living - so we don't lose them, just their hold on us).

All form is Mara, even the form called "Enlightenment". All that is manifest is Mara. When all such concepts/divisions fall - with awareness of this - direct living awareness - Enlightenment itself is nothing special. Irrelevant. Cannot exist (see Vajra Cutter Sutra). All is as it always is, only delusions have ended. Part of "you" has died and fallen away. Enlightenment is not something gained (not a condition), rather delusion is lost (and we become aware of the unconditioned ["empty"] nature of existence/no self).

Not seeing This, and instead seeking "That", will surely take many lifetimes to remedy. Seeing This, time too is seen as delusion... Why wait?


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