The Problem of Desire

Desire is both an emotion and a physical sensation. It is never bad. It is never “the cause of woe to humankind” as poets and philosophers have said.

The simplest and most common experience with the sensation of desire is to get rid of it. You get hungry; you eat. This works fine for dogs, a species who don’t mind vomiting or even eating vomit. They don’t live very long anyway.

I find it hilarious that human beings for thousands of years have attempted to apply dog thinking to the emotion of desire. In other words, you must eliminate desire, either by obtaining satisfacton or by practicing self-denial. It is no more praiseworthy to practice self-denial than to satisfy all desires at will. Both are equally mindless.

The Purpose of Desire

Aristotle said that the purpose of desire is to make us get off our asses. He didn’t say it like that. He said that desire “stimulates an animal toward motion.” But it means what I said. It makes a monkey peel a banana, a cheetah chase a gazelle and a human write a book. The lack of desire makes a human too lazy to reach for the remote control!

Desire is a good thing. It is the lack of desire that kills us– that we should fight against.

“Aw, Bullshit! I know a woman who gets everything she wants. And she’s always unhappy! She’s broke. She’s lonely. It’s killing her.”

I’ll say it again. It is lack of desire that kills us. It is lack of desire that we should resist.

Desire can function in any section of the Balance Wheel. This is a problem because we can desire the negative things. Why would we do that? Because we fail to desire its postive counterpart.

Do you know people who actually desire Grief? Disgust? Contempt? Of course! “Hate [contempt] is more bankable than gold,” said a neo-nazi character in a Tom Clancy novel I’ve forgotten about. But I haven’t forgotten that line. We all know people who live from crisis to crisis.

Desire as a Stressor

Desire seems to cause certain problems, such as overspending, but it doesn’t really. Commercial advertising firms have spent millions of dollars finding ways to manipulate desire. Any advertisement will demonstrate that desire is stimulated by a sense of lack. “Are you still driving that old piece of shit?” is the subconscious message in almost any car advertisement.

“Well, then isn’t desire causing me to overspend?”

Desire can help you to stick to your budget. If you desire the joy and contentment of financial health more than you desire the newest car, then you will avoid the stress of overspending.

The sense of lack can make us pursue the wrong mate, the wrong job, the wrong religion, even. The sense of lack makes us think we NEED something. Those people who want your money or your attention are waiting to pounce. You are their prey if you NEED the things they make you desire. You are your own person if you DESIRE the things you actually NEED.

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