Desire is the root of all (shock) happiness !

When we read Buddha’s quote, “desire is the root of all suffering” we nod in agreement. It all comes back to us in a flash. Fancy college degrees, our first lost love, that perfect figure, the perfect salary *sigh*. All desires that surfaced, burned and eventually dwindled leaving us with a scar in our heart and a much deeper understanding of Buddha’s quote.

I do not disagree with Buddha. In fact I agree with him completely, except that he forgot to mention the other half !

Desire is the root of all happiness !

Can this be true ? Decide for yourself. Which of these scenarios make you sing a song and believe you are the happiest person alive?

Case [A] – You have been longing for something for months, even years and you finally get it.

Case [B] – You unexpectedly receive something pleasant*.

(*Note: Of course this pleasant item cannot be a desire because then it would simply be case [A] where you got what you wanted sooner rather than later. To put it explicitly, case [B] is when you get something which the world would consider desirable/nice/beautiful/expensive but its not something you personally crave for – it is a nice thing to have but you really would not be affected if you lived your life with or without it)

The difference in Case [A] and Case [B] is only “desire”, and if you too like me picked [A], then, “desire is the root of all happiness” in your life too :)

Just a midnight thought !

P.S. I desire sleep ;-)


20 thoughts on “Desire is the root of all (shock) happiness !

  1. I picked B! Because with A comes a C: …and you never get it! Or you get it too late – in a wheelchair! Dr Grant is still waiting for a Padmabhushan. He has tried and tried. Now he can hardly move around. But who knows he may still be thrilled!
    There is no accounting for tastes!

    • Let me ask you. You write, don’t you. I write too. Now the reason to write is not only so that others can read it. A lot of people write simply to express their ideas and that is a pleasurable activity in itself. Now after we write it, we might publish it, or at least show it to our friends. WHY ? Not because we are craving for their attention but because we feel it would be nice to see what they think of it. We do not desire that they like it or not like it, we just want them to show some “interest”. Their interest can make us quite happy.

      On the other hand, consider the case where you have not the slightest interest in others reading or understanding what you have written. You could as well have written something and thrown it in a dustbin where only you and no one else could ever find it again. Now if someone accidentally does find it, and reads it, and even loves it, it only matter to you slightly. You might think that person in brilliant to have understood what you have written, or that the person is considerate to have taken time off, but you never really feel that “selfish happiness” you experienced in the first case. I call it selfish, because that sort of happiness is only for you, whereas being happy in this case (later case) because someone was thoughtful towards you is more of a “thoughtful happiness” where you consciously make a decision to be grateful or happy for the interest shown.

      And “thoughtful happiness” can never really compare with “selfish happiness”. What do you think ? Let me know :)

  2. I picked up A . A will find a way ! Here is result of your desire and hard or may be lttle work . Do not get tired . As its rather rare to get unexpectedly cant wait for B to happen . Nobody is waiting to give you things.

    • :) True. But even if they do give you things, if you never really wanted it, it rarely makes you THAT happy. Its just a “thoughtful happiness” as I have described above !

  3. Probably Buddha didn’t refer to material desires like degrees,things and high salaries. These still can be ahieved with determination and hard work and luck or even corruption. What he was referring to are the desires of the heart. Wanting to be loved forever,with no heartbreaks, no fights and no separations.But still Buddha is wrong because as u say some sorrows are too sweet to be missed.

    • What I say is…

      1. If you desire love, and you find someone who loves you, it makes you extremely HAPPY.
      2. If you desire love, and you DO NOT find someone who loves you, it makes you SUFFER.

      Conclusion: Desire is the root of all happiness & suffering!

      3. If you do not desire love, and you find someone who loves you, it doesn’t really affect you (or may be only slightly).
      4. If you do not desire love, and you DO NOT find someone who loves you, it doesn’t really affect you.

      Conclusion: Eliminate desire and you eliminate both suffering AND happiness!

      Do you agree ?

  4. I am tempted to pick case B, may be because I live in moments or may be from past experiences :) or everything unexpected is actually always desired, at least in subconcious!

    • Firstly when I say “you unexpectedly receive something pleasant”, I do not mean you receive something you “desire” unexpectedly. That would be Case [A]. I mean you receive something that the world would consider “pleasant/nice” but you really don’t care or want it so much. You could live with/without it.

      If you still pick case [B], then would you also say that when you DO NOT get something you desire it really doesn’t make you suffer?

      Because in that case you would be the kind of person who when he gets something he desires doesn’t feel that happy, but when he doesn’t get it is miserable – and I don’t believe there are many people in the world who are truly like that !

      What do you think ? Please let me know :)

  5. What about the happiness that one gets out of somebody else’s happiness? Like lets say Africa all of a sudden turns into a developed continent. It would be such a great life for 100 million people. Am I desiring it? Not really. But if it happens would it make me happy. Yes. Definitely. Not as much as it would make me happy if I got a million dollars, but it is still happiness. How does the theory account for that?

  6. Agree with what you say.
    Actually I understood ‘B’ as getting something you would like (though not craving for it)unexpectedly.
    Reading your reply to Santosh, I would have to opt for ‘A’.
    Just imagined winning a Mercedes. Boy i would know no happiness until I’ve disposed it satisfactorily.
    But s sudden letter from a publisher showing interest in my stories would be unadulterated happiness!
    That settles it, i think!

  7. Correct . Thank you .
    You know, I think. In this world everyone desires to get,to achive upto ones wish requirement ………………. can be important for the person thats why one works , moves and world moves, In other words development occurs . Otherwise world will be backword . Desire is most necessary .

  8. All these comments makes me think desire as one of our basic instincts. its there without us noticing it and keeps us driving ahead. pace and hit ratio could be different for everyone. But no one can say that i don’t have a desire..

  9. This time I totally agree with what you say.
    To make life worthwhile there has to be a blend of desires, fulfillments and disappointments.

  10. Preeti,

    I’m paying bills, doing taxes, etc… and just got your new post. Very welcome motivation!

    The comment “changes desire to fulfillment” refers to the state change. “A” is no longer a desire, or an aspiration, it is now a reality because it has been fulfilled.

    In other words, if you get everything you ask for do you become unhappy?

  11. @Scott, Brilliant ! About the question, well… I wouldn’t say that one becomes unhappy, but then again I’ve never had EVERYTHING I ask for ;-) There is this sweet happiness in waiting for something you want; the dreams, the plans. If you have everything you could possibly want, what would you wait for ?

  12. Craving and ignorance are the two main causes of suffering. People suffer with their craving for the pleasures of the senses and become unsatisfied and disappointed until they can replace their cravings with new ones. People suffer too when they are unable to see the world as it really is and live with illusions about life and fears, hopes, facts and behaviours based on ignorance. Craving and misunderstanding can be solved by developing the mind, thinking carefully and meditating. Solving these main causes of suffering will lead a person to true happiness……………………….

    • Hi Sukesh, Ignorance and Craving – that’s a good one. Craving one can recognize in oneself and control. But ignorance is a tough one. No one really believes they are ignorant – how does one identify ignorance in oneself ?

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