Excerpt About Desire

The Truth that Desire is at the Root of Suffering

The Noble Truth that desire is at the root of suffering is such a deep truth that it is not easy to see experientially, except after long inner work. It is naive to imagine that the student will be convinced of this deep universal truth just by looking at his everyday desires and by noticing the frustration that arises. When an individual suffers due to desire, he usually attributes the suffering to the lack or loss of gratification, and not to the desiring itself. This means he believes desire is fine if gratification is forthcoming, if he gets what he wants. But this is not Buddha's teaching about desire. The issue is not the possibility of no gratification. The teaching is very clear that the movement of desire itself is suffering. But this perception is very subtle. It cannot be understood except at very fine levels of consciousness. In fact, the complete conviction about the teaching regarding desire does not come about until the later stages of the path, when the individual can see and feel for himself that the teaching is indeed true.

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