?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Desire, Pain, and Suffering

This week I wriote an essay that was inspired by the Buddhist insight that desire is the root of all suffering.

I was inspired to write this because my brother and some of his friends were having a discussion on this topic. Also, I thought the essay might come in handy some day for the course I teach on the psychology of well-being.

In a nutshell, I agree that (unfulfilled) desire is the root of all suffering, but rather than attempt to eliminate desire (an impossible task for most of us), I recommend a change of thinking to reduce unnecessary suffering.

The full text of the essay is available at:

http://www.personal.psu.edu/~j5j/papers/Desire-Pain-Suffering.html

(I originally posted this in atheism in response to this post.)

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
queenlyzard
Jul. 2nd, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
wow
Hey, I *really* like this essay. I plan to pass it along to friends. Lot of very good ideas here. I suppose my main question would be about how this might be applied or adapted for people who are struggling with mental illness, and may not have the level of control over their own thought patterns, etc, that the average person can be expected to have.

To a certain extent, I would hope that cognitive therapy could help most people (mentally healthy or not, provided a certain level of intelligence) to incorporate this sort of thinking into their lives. Do you think this is something that could be incorportated into a general education system, or does that run the risk of diluting the philosophy into meaningless rote (rather than something people actually think about and use)?

By the way, I have also read some of the papers off your website, and I have been enjoying them. It's taking me a while to get through them because reading things on the computer screen (esp. in Acrobat) drives me kinda nuts. But I've definitely been learning some neat stuff (you tend to big words sometimes when they aren't necessary, but that's my only "editorial" comment). I particularly liked the one about how you have to take self-reporting habits into account as part of a personality analysis. When I have more time, I might like to chat with you about some of your findings.
hostirad
Jul. 2nd, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
Re: wow
Glad you found the essay useful. The wisdom in that essay represents one of the most important discoveries I have made in my entire lifetime. Let me be clear--this is not *my* wisdom. It belongs to Buddhist, Taoist, and cognitive therapist authors. I feel fortunate to have discovered these ideas and wish I had fully grasped them when I was much younger. If I were about to die and had to pass on one piece of wisdom to my children, this would be it.

you tend to big words sometimes when they aren't necessary

This is a life-long bad habit. I used to be much worse, believe me. I'm still striving for Strunk and White simplicity and clarity in my writing, but it is a constant battle with some of my natural tendencies.
hostirad
Jul. 2nd, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
Re: wow
I suppose my main question would be about how this might be applied or adapted for people who are struggling with mental illness, and may not have the level of control over their own thought patterns, etc, that the average person can be expected to have.

Until we get gene therapy, I think that medication is the best solution we have right now. People indeed must have a certain degree of control over their thinking for the cognitive techniques to work, and many disorders (ADD, depression, anxiety) interfere with one's ability to control thoughts. As I mentioned somewhere else, I could not implement Miller's techniques until I was on Wellbutrin for over a year.
morningstar5
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC)
Desire, Pain, and Suffering
Excellent essay. I have been working on changing my thinking, but it is always good to be reminded to practice C, A, and G. (BTW, I miss your class.)

In the essay, when you say the must-have thinking that causes suffering that can lead to using, abusing, and manipulating others, I think you overlooked another *important* possible result. Must-have thinking can also lead to just totally giving up because one begins to feel that they deserve nothing. The suffering that that causes can gradually leads to apathy. Just plain not caring about anything is a miserable way to live one's life -- well actually that is not living at all.

In the above paragraph, *deserve* is probably not the best choice of word, but I hope you understand what I am trying to say.
hostirad
Jul. 3rd, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Desire, Pain, and Suffering
Yes, the feelings of apathy and of giving up often accompany depression, which is one of the types of suffering that can follow must-have thinking.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )