Desire: Why it Matters
by Traleg Kyabgon
Editor: Felicity Lodro
In this book Traleg Kyabgon discusses the notion of desire from Buddhist and other perspectives. He reviews commonly held beliefs of desire that are often misguided and can be diametrically opposed. On the one hand there is the belief that desire is an important human experience that is natural, which leads to happiness and pleasure. Then there is the juxtaposition that desire is a type of demon whose expression leads to diminishment and destruction. There has been a long standing belief in some Eastern, Western religious and philosophical traditions that all forms of desire are bad and that our ultimate goal is a state of complete desirelessness.
The assumption of these traditions being, if we don’t desire anything we will not have any concerns. If we don’t have any concerns we will be completely content, and completely happy.
That is not the view of Buddhism as I understand it, particularly in relation to the distinction between the ultimate goal of attaining enlightenment and the relative, more immediate aim of wanting to improve and elevate oneself.
There is a litany of human foibles, misdemeanors, and misconduct that comes from unmediated desire. When the desire is not controlled or managed effectively it can manifest as very destructive eruption. Nevertheless we should not then conclude that we have to extinguish desire altogether.
To overcome destructive or demeaning desires requires one to harness a stronger desire to motivate oneself towards a more positive direction and goal. This requires insight and skill to overcome highly habitualized tendencies that can lead to a type of entrapment, to then produce a
positively motivated approach that allows one to desire freely producing enriched meaning, outcomes and experiences.
Traleg Kyabgon explores the Buddhist notion of desire within its positive and negative forms, seeking to explode some myths and clarify some misunderstandings. The book is also designed to inspire the passion of the readers to seek a fulfilling life without needing to demean ones experience of desire.