Downsides of desire

Western psychology often leaves untreated the downsides of desire. In truth, desire is an extremely dangerous emotion that can drive one to despair. The problem with desire is that it is rooted in unreality. We believe that the object of our desire will bring us happiness, and because this belief is wrong, we waste our lives pursuing the wrong things. When we do get the object of desire, we may be temporarily happy. However, this happiness is not because of the object itself, it is because for a moment we are free of desire. Our unhappiness did not come from our lack, it come from our desire.

When we feel down, we naturally look for something to cheer us up. Because of this, desire can be an escape. It gives us something to focus on, something to want. The thought of having no desires seems depressing to some. It seems that there would be nothing to hope for, nothing to look forward to, no way to cheer oneself up when misery strikes.

The truth is that neither our desires, nor the objects of our desire, bring happiness. Happiness comes from training the mind to be at peace, from forgetting oneself and looking out for others, from removing destructive emotions. Desire is the root of attachment and greed, of discontentment, of anger and irritability. Be very careful to avoid taking it to excess.

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