We have determined that desire is being dissatisfied with what is, and thus wanting what currently is not. Now, say we get what is not, and make it what is. In other words, say we get what we desire. I want a new car because I am not satisfied with my current one, so I buy a new car. I want a better philosophy on life because I am not satisfied with my current one, so I think of a new one. Now I have what I want, I have fulfilled my desire. But what happens when that car gets a dent in it or ends up being outdated quickly by next years model which has a brand new innovative design and a bigger engine, all for the same price? What happens when my philosophy on life is proven to have holes in it? Do I not feel dissatisfaction; angst, restlessness, anxiety, unhappiness, frustration, distress, annoyance and/or uneasiness? And isn't this suffering?
Hopefully we are in agreement on these points so far. I can think of only one counter-argument to this, and that is, “desire does not lead to suffering but craving does, and desire and craving are not the same.” In fact, I have heard this argument many times, and it really is the only good argument one can make at this juncture. Unfortunately, for the person making it, it is just not a good enough argument to be accepted as true. Why do I say this?
Desire leads to craving, in every circumstance. This is the way our brains are set up, experience causes neurological firings of the brain to function in a certain pattern and that pattern then conditions the brain. In other words, experience conditions the brain to seek or not seek that experience again, dependent on whether or not the experience was viewed as pleasant or unpleasant. In this function, desire is the push to experience something while craving is the conditioning that results from that experience. Here are a few examples of how this might work:
It is 94 degrees outside and I am sweating profusely and overheating. This is the experience, an experience I am not satisfied with. Thus, I desire a new experience, namely one that brings about sensations of cooling off. I then fulfill this desire by finding a cool place to rest. Now, desire is born from the recognition that I am not satisfied with being in the heat, and craving is born through that desire being fulfilled, which in turn conditions the brain to desire a method of ensuring that there is always a cool place to rest when it is hot outside. Even if it is cool today, if I read in the newspaper that it will be hot tomorrow, I will plan today to be in a place where it is cool tomorrow.
I am broke and hungry. This is the experience, an experience I am not satisfied with. Thus, I desire a new experience, namely one that brings about sensations of being full and financially secure. I then fulfill this desire by doing some odd job for someone and getting paid money for my work, with which I go and purchase food with. Now, desire is born from the recognition that I am not satisfied with being hungry and broke, and craving is born through this desire being fulfilled, which in turn conditions the brain to desire a method of ensuring that I always have money for food, which means I get a job.
Many of you may say that what was just claimed is unavoidable, and rather necessary. I am not here to argue that, and in fact, I tend to agree. Desire and craving seem to be an unavoidable aspect of our life, yet they are linked together as one movement. One may now posit the question, “Who is the one living this life? Who is the 'I' that desires and craves?”, with the intention of reaching the unconditioned, where desire and craving are not applicable, but that is best left for another discussion.
The point of this exercise was to show, through logical deduction, that desire and suffering are inexplicably bound to one another; desire feeds suffering and suffering feeds desire. It was concluded that desire arises out of dissatisfaction, which is suffering, and leads to craving, which causes suffering. This could be stated in the reverse as well: suffering arises from craving, craving arises from desire, and desire arises from suffering. Either way, as we can see, it is a circle, one feeding into the other.
Hopefully we achieved some ground today with this exercise in logical deduction, and if not, that is okay too. Beware though, if you seek to challenge the premise of this exercise, and thus the exercise itself, be prepared to defend you premise with strong logical arguments, not merely emotional rants.
edit on 12-5-2012 by LifeIsEnergy because: (no reason given)