I like the Buddha,
but his idea that desire is the cause of suffering- I’m iffy on that. It’s logical: if I don’t want anything then I can accept everything. But if the universe was about accepting instead of wanting, would the big bang have ever boomed?
Maybe this is me as a product of our unbridled culture. A culture defined by wanting. And satisfying those wants. We can seemingly: live wherever, sleep with whomever, do whatever, whenever and do it all whyever we please.
I’m no history buff, but I can’t think of a time when this many desires were this accessible to so many.
But I don’t affirm desire because I want to eat biscuits, play video games and sleep around. Well part of me does, but I want other things too.
To explore those other things I experiment with asceticism. Sometimes I fast. I go on silent retreats for vacation. I practice celibacy. For fun I contemplate giving up alcohol, caffeine and most of my stuff.
While these are all denials I still think that desire is not to be avoided. I think we should play with it, push it and demand that desire give us the greatest satisfaction. So then the question becomes: what satisfies the most?
I’d amend the Buddha and say unguided desire is the source of suffering. Well-guided desire is the source of growth and life. And desire can be guided by seeking the most satisfaction.
We’re taught that it is good to give up bad things. Screw that. When we try to give up things we don’t want to give up: 1) we fail and 2) we sow doubt in ourselves. If we doubt our own voice then what are we listening to instead?
Instead of giving up bad things I believe in wanting the best things. Those are different for each of us and the voice that wants them is subtle; much more subtle than the gregarious desire for salty, sugary, sexy.** But following that subtle voice orders our lives truer than any outside ethic. When we want what matters most then the things that matter least fall in line.
Sorry Buddha, but chasing that sort of desire gives me too much joy to give up.
** Notice that consumer culture has a vested interest in keeping desire instinctual. Few of our higher desires involve buying things. We can’t buy growth, beauty, community, health or intelligence. The more educated someone becomes the less they buy. So stay stupid and shopping is the consumer culture’s desire.