Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Worldly Passions - Desire

                         Very soon at December's end, countries from all around the world will celebrate the coming of a new year.  The exact date may vary for some nations, but it’s still an occasion where people will mark the passing of 365 days of time with creative and quite unusual customs.

                      In Latin countries, twelve grapes are eaten, one for each month in the year. It is meant to bring good luck and fortune.

                      Thai people throw water on each other in hopes that it will bring rain for their crops. They also release birds from their cages and return fish back into streams for good luck.

                      In Japan, the bells in temples are rung 108 times. This is because Buddhism teaches that we have 108 worldly passions. These passions are said to be blind because we are entirely driven by them, causing us constant trouble and torment. So a New Year's tradition arose that striking the bell 108 times banishes all the worldly passions that caused us suffering from the passing year.

                     However, we know from the Law of Cause and Effect, little rituals that promise luck are not true. In order to receive good fortune, we must first plant the good seeds ourselves.

                      In the case of a bell dissolving all our worldly passions, this is also untrue -- no matter how many people still practice it. It may be fun to ring in the New Year, but believing anything will follow your action besides a loud "GONG!" noise is surrendering yourself to a false superstition.

Original Photo by MIKI Yoshihito available on Flickr.com

                      What is true is that we are made up of worldly passions and nothing else. Buddhism explains that worldly passions never vanish within us as long as we're living, and attempts to remove them don't even leave a dent.

                      You can think about it like a snowman.

Original Photo by islandjoe available on Flickr.com

                      If you take away all the snow from out of the snowman, what do you have?

Original Photo by mrsdkrebs available on Flickr.com

                      You don't have anything. Without snow, a snowman loses form and ceases to be what it is supposed to be. 

                       It's the same with us. If you remove all of our worldly passions, there is nothing left.

                      Sakyamuni Buddha used the number 108 to represent the idea that our worldly passions are seemingly countless. 

                      Yet within this large number of passions, there are Three Poisonous Passions which are the most dreadful of all. These passions reflect the very nature of all the other 105 worldly passions. They are DESIRE, ANGER, and IGNORANCE

The Three Poisonous Passions


It's the constant longing we have to get something. 
If we don't have it, we really want it. If we have it, we want more of it. 
And no matter how much we are satisfied, we will still have new cravings arise within us.
There is no end to our limitless desire.

Original Photo by Ani Carrington available on Flickr.com

Our desire can be compared to the deep, blue sea. 
Our wants come to us like waves, one after another.
The deeper the water, the deeper the blue becomes in color.
If we always get what we want, we can endlessly drown in our own greed.


It's the fury within you of being denied anything you think you deserve. 
We can yell at people we love or curse strangers over the slightest offense.
Our anger can spread uncontrollably and become unpredictable.
The more we feel betrayed, the angrier we become. 

Original Photo by wwarby avaialble on Flickr.com

Anger can be likened to a fire, because it burns at high heat.
Flames span outwardly scorching everything it touches quickly.
We turn red when we're mad because our blood is boiling.
 Left unchecked, it can torch everything in our life like a wildfire.


It's the venomous feeling we harbor deep within us.
We secretly envy our superiors, curse those who cross us, and delight in others' misfortune.
Everyone else is to be blamed for our misfortune, and we resent them for it in our minds.
Not taking responsibility for our own fate is defiance of the Law of Cause and Effect.

Original Photo by Darco TT available on Flickr.com

Ignorance leaves us totally blind to the truth, and so it can be said to be pitch black.
These ugly feelings are dirty and filthy and spread like a disease or pollution. 
We distort the world with our own private, warped views.
The nature of ignorance is dark and ugly, because it is so hard to see clearly within ourselves.

               Now, let's take a look at the first worldly passion.


               Buddhism teaches that Desire can be further broken down into five categories. 

               They are Food, Wealth, Love, Fame, and Sleep

                They are known as the Five Desires.

The Five Desires


Original Photo by elsie.hui available on Flickr.com

 It's the pleasure we get from eating a delicious meal.
We love to eat at restaurants and have home-cooked meals.
People enjoy fad health diets or binge on holidays like Thanksgiving.
Even with dessert, we'll still be hungry for more.


Original Photo by epSos.de available on Flickr.com

It's the urge to stockpile money and not pay people back.
We want to brag about our new smart phones and cruise in our new cars.
Whether we're rich or poor, we revel when funds rise within our bank accounts.
There is no amount of cents that decreases our desire for more money.


Original Photo by kainr available on Flickr.com

It's the wanting intimacy from another man or woman physically and emotionally.
We watch attractive people on the street and get excited when we get to talk to them.
There's an intense feeling that burns to be near the person we love.
Our heart beats expectantly for the next burst of romance and passion.


Original Photo by Gareth.D.Jones available on Flickr.com

 It's the thrill of being praised and honored by someone special or a large group of strangers.
We want to have fans like a movie star or be held in high regard like a president.
Deep down we secretly just want everyone to think we're cool.
No man is an island; we always have the desire to be liked.
    SLEEP -

Original Photo by Matt Erasmus available on Flickr.com

It's that yearning to sleep in, relax on the sofa, and just be plain lazy.
We hit snooze to escape going to school briefly or take a sick day just to stay in bed.
All we want to do is just chill out and take it easy.
The longer we are awake, the stronger our need for sleep.

                      At the mercy of these five desires, we slave to them in some form or another. We will to go to such great lengths just to get satisfaction, even if it causes to pain those around us.

                       Now of course we should do serious soul-searching if we sense that we are greatly troubling others with our desires. Self-reflection can sometimes catch when we are being too lazy in our studies or when we've been taken over by the luring idea of an illicit affair. We may even overcome the temptation of stealing the last bite on the plate at the family dinner, but our worldly passions will keep flaring up despite our best efforts. They remain as a filter by which we perceive all of our experiences for every moment we're alive... up until our very last breath.

                        In the next post, we will take a look at the second poisonous passion, Anger.

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