In many religious stories and contexts, the theme of desire leading to suffering is quite common. In fact, Yoda himself even advocates such a philosophy. After watching Star Wars for the first time, I can still remember trying to wrap my little eight year old mind around his words. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” It really wasn’t until recently that I truly understood those words.
Want and You’re Gone: A want is born at the moment we hear about something that we do not have, but would like. As soon as we hear about a place worth traveling to, a good deal on something, or the newest version of the iPad (maybe that’s last one is just me), many of us begin to start thinking about having them. The problem with this, however, is that it immediately takes us out of the moment. Rather than being present, we are now thinking about how we can acquire that thing. Thus, simply by acknowledging a want that we have, we create a distance between us and the moment.
The Other Side of the Coin: The other downside to wanting is that once we have the thing we wished to acquire (could be a new flat screen or a promotion at work), it inevitably creates attachment. In essence, wanting something while you already have it is attachment. Therefore, because you wanted a flat screen you went out to buy it. And now since you still want it but already have it, that makes losing it that much more painful.
Avoiding Pain: By nature, we avoid pain as much as we can. Therefore, if losing something you have can cause pain, then fear will help motivate us to protect ourselves against it. That fear will lead to us getting very angry at someone who takes it from us; it may even lead to hate. And hate leads to suffffffferrringggggg **Yoda voice*
Want leads to attachment.
Attachment leads to fear.
Fear leads to hate….
...you know the rest.
So when you find yourself fantasizing about the next thing you’re going to buy or longingly gazing a picture of some far off land, remember that in doing so you are building the foundation for suffering. But rather than worry about what to do, simply being more aware of your wants, in time, will help you to find your own path out of suffering. Just remember that you are the captain of your ship. Bon voyage!