Statement XV

by zenquaker

Principle 7: We Cannot Get Rid of Desire (The Obsession Principle)

Desire is the cause of suffering, so it would seem logical that to end our suffering we should get rid of our desire. But we can’t do that. Desire is integral to who we are. It is so integral to who we are that we wouldn’t even want to get rid of it even if we could.

Take hunger. Hunger is the desire for food. We can’t get rid of that desire. Why would we even want to? If we got rid of hunger, got rid of the desire for food, we wouldn’t know when we needed to eat anymore. We could easily starve to death, not realizing we needed food.

This is just one of the desires that is programmed into us by our evolution. Another is sex. We evolved into what we are because our ancestors survived long enough to reproduce. If they had not wanted to reproduce we would never have been born. So we have that desire and it is ingrained in us.

That fact always makes me wonder at the sexual repression in our society, that treats sex (the creation of life) as worse than killing. Don’t believe me? Watch a PG-13 movie and count how many people have sex and how many people are killed.

Our bondage to desire goes beyond the primal ones. We evolved to rule the world because of our brains. Our brains allowed us to formulate complicated plans and bring them to conclusion. Those plans are just ways to achieve our desires and are complicated desires in and of themselves. We are who we are because our brains are incredibly good desire generating machines. You will never be able to stop yourself from generating desires, until you die. This might sound like advocacy for suicide, but I’m the last one to advocate that. Life is too wonderful for that, even if we are doomed to have desires that create suffering.