Is it true that all desire leads to suffering?

—G.H. (United States)


Desire in itself doesn’t necessarily have to lead to suffering, although the attachment to what one desires certainly may. We can use desire as a way to point to what we need to create more space for in our lives. For example, you may go see someone perform and feel that desire to learn an instrument well up inside of your heart. In that case, your desire might be pointing you in a direction you may want to explore.

On the other hand, when we let desire grow into a seed of discontent and then into a false belief that you are lacking without whatever it is that you desire or that you are somehow separate from what you desire (“I need that fancy car to be happy”), or that you need that thing or person in order to be happy (“I will never be happy again now that that we have broken up”), or that we try to prolong the relationship with whatever it is that you desire (“I met someone wonderful and we had such a great conversation—if only we could have had more time than that or something more substantial than that one conversation”), or if you believe any consumerist programming that what you have is not enough (“I was so happy with my iphone 5 but now I cannot be happy unless I have the newest iPhone” or “I was happy with my husband but now that he has lost his great job, I am no longer happy”), it can lead to great suffering.

It’s all part of the great dance and journey of being human, isn’t it? Allowing ourselves to be present in each moment and enjoying what we have and are right now….

I have a feeling you are on a path strewn with miracles seen and unseen, with the things you are thinking about.

Much gratitude for you and your question.

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