Does Desire Cause Suffering?

Does desire cause suffering? Many spiritual traditions including Buddhism,   not only put desire at the heart of suffering, but they equate all desire with suffering.  But in actuality, does desire inevitably always  cause suffering?

The truth is, no.

 Desire is an integral facet of life. Absent desire, stagnation happens. Absent an impetus towards growth, change, betterment, there is no movement forward. Life and experience itself depends upon the arising of desire and intention.

And yet, if emotional suffering is present, no doubt about it,  an unfulfilled desire can always be seen to be at the root of that equation. Thus, when asked, "Does desire cause suffering?" we can say; All suffering hinges upon the presence of an unfulfilled desire, but not all desire leads to suffering.

There are those who will say that all desire is indicative of suffering. That no desire arises absent a sense of suffering. But that’s not really so. One need not be deeply resistant to what is currently arising to want for something better or different. There’s a world of difference between needing for something to manifest versus simply preferring that it manifest.

How Does Desire Cause Suffering?

It is only those desires whose manifestations we stand in resistance to, that cause us to suffer emotionally.

What does it mean to stand in resistance to a desired manifestation?

 We stand in resistance to desired manifestations by worrying, doubting, fretting, thinking that they will not come about, which really means that we are more focused upon the current arising, unwanted conditions that gave rise to the desire, than the presence of the manifest conditions that we are desiring.

To stand in resistance to a desired manifestation means that we are more focused upon the appearance of lack, limitation, absence of what is wanted than we are focused upon the presence of what it wanted, the Truth that all limitation is but an appearance only.  

Once one has realized that it is resistance itself to ‘what is’ that keeps unwanted conditions in play, and that desires for change manifest easily and effortlessly once that resistance ceases, desires lose all their ability to cause suffering.

What could be more enjoyable than observing a desire for change arising and full out knowing that the very fact that it arose, means the manifest conditions that are desired, are already in the process of coming to be.

If one finds himself suffering emotionally in the face of an unmanifest desire,  clearly, he needs to find a way to shift his focus away from the present conditions that gave rise to the desire.

When one becomes clear that if a particular desire is arising, then it’s fulfillment is a given, he ceases to stand in resistance to ‘what is,’ for he knows without a doubt that present circumstances are always only temporary and that the way of this life experience is constant flux and change, all which is,  fuelled by  desire/intention.

This shift into clarity results in a new relationship to desire. No longer does desire cause a sense of emotional angst or worry that the desired conditions will not come about, but rather, one now stands in excited anticipation of what he knows is bound to come into play, in due time.


Life becomes a series of arising desires that are accompanied by a sense of eagerness and enjoyment as the gap between the arising of a desire and it’s manifestation into form, unfolds, and then the thrill of actual manifestation, followed by  the new vantage point that gives rise to yet another desire.

There’s no need for desire to cause suffering or any degree of emotional discord. One simply needs to see that the very fact of an arising desire means that its fulfillment is already a fait accompli.

Relax into your knowing that everything you are currently desiring will come to be, so long as you can get out of the way.


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