Desire and suffering


In Buddhism, we say: Mind makes everything. It literally means that the world as we see it is created by our minds. But where it is most easy to comprehend (at least, for students like me) is when we learn how to be aware of our assumptions about what “is” and what “should be.”

A woman I know was talking about what’s missing in her life. She’s young, but she’s longing for a certain kind of relationship and some kind of stability to go along with it. Right now she’s feeling very sorry for herself.

This is typical of the way we all suffer. She’s very sad because she wants something. Her wanting it (desiring it) is only part of what’s making her feel bad, though. She’s feeling even worse because she keeps on thinking about how she doesn’t have it. And when she sees two lovers who appear happy, she feels even worse.

She is actually doing a lot of work (in her mind) to create all this misery for herself. I have done this too! We have to unravel this bundle of me, me, me, to see clearly how we make this longing, this absence, this desire.



4 responses

  1. Craving and aversion, clinging clinging, clinging. To end our suffering we have to come out of this. I know of no other way than to observe reality as it is, not as we would like it to be, and remain equanimous with it…to end the endless cycle of being “caught” by the moment. It is impermanent, transient. May we realize our true nature. May all beings be free…

  2. Yes, we work very hard to create our experience of the world! It’s exhausting labor. The world is already complete – what do we need to add? And, yet, we long for something outside of ourselves to swoop in – deux ex machina – and make us happy. It would be heartbreaking, except that we all engage in the same magical thinking.

  3. I love this blog. You bring up good, relevant points about Buddhism, and this particular post is uses an example that one anyone anywhere can relate to.

  4. Lovely post, and I can see this behavior in many (too many) of the people I know. And, it never ends… one year, it’s wanting to be in a relationship, the next, it may be wanting the perfect wedding, the next… having children, the perfect children, and so on. What saddens and perhaps is the most challenging to me is that while I am aware that desires cause suffering, and thus my own desires are tempered in this way; well, society/relatives/culture expects many of these desires to be fulfilled and striven towards. One can come up against relatives (especially Asian relatives!) again and again asking “Why don’t you…?” or “Have you tried…?” and it takes some shifting of gears in my head to see they’re putting temporal desires (even if for my own good) above my spiritual path towards the cessation of suffering. I am aware that any unhappiness from their questions, however, is my responsibility. It’s just that sometimes, or maybe oftentimes, when we see someone suffering, it really may be a group effort…the pressures or lack that they feel may be further reinforced by others telling them what they lack. (One of the reasons I am so happy and grateful when I have Sangha around me–all these material wants fade away!) May all beings be free of suffering and its causes!