The Five Desires

Buddhism is fun because it teaches that everything is one, then it neatly divides that oneness into categories.

The most basic Buddhist teaching is the four noble truths that suffering happens, there is a cause, there is a cure and there is a method to the cure. The method is the eightfold path of right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. So if you can live by the eightfold path and do everything right, you will stop suffering. The impediments to all that correct living are the three poisons, anger, ignorance and desire. Anger is anger, ignorance is thinking that you are two instead of one, and desire has five nice, neat categories.

The five desires fly in the face of our normal way of thinking about wants and needs. If you are accustomed to the ten commandments, where it is clear what thou shalt and shalt not do, then you should shift gears to think about the five desires. The five desires are desires for money, fame, food, sex and sleep (not necessarily in that order).

If you take a shalt not approach to these desires, then you will soon become exhausted and die without sleep or food. These desires are not good or bad, they are integral parts of your life. They are points for awareness.  It is not bad to have desires, but it is good to be able to recognize them. Desires are not evil, but they can be distracting.

Despite what it may seem, it is possible to become rich and famous, eat well, make love, sleep soundly and still be happy.


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