Desire is a key to happiness and suffering. It is possible to control desire. The three main paths are: 1) fulfill desire, 2) change or alter desire and, 3) stop obtaining desire. Happiness pertains to a selection among the many ways of obtaining and fulfilling desire. In some cases, the fulfillment of certain desires fosters more of the same desire - one gets involved in a perpetual cycle. On the other hand, there are some desires that when fulfilled allow for more interesting and fun desires to come into experience for modification, or fulfillment.
I agree that we need to discipline our desires so that we don't waste our time and resources chasing empty destructive pleasures and shallow ego-boosting status-seeking nonsense (among other useless things). But I think that the Buddhists are too dogmatic about this and they appear to sweep half of the issue under the carpet in their eternal desire to wrap things all up nice and neatly. It's fine to stop desiring the wrong things - how about desiring the right things? Healthy desires are a part of life, and to pretend otherwise is a confusion and to pretend that we are half-dead.
Yes. There is a big difference between "happiness" and "nirvana". It takes desire to have life, but it takes some very special kinds of desire/fulfillment to have a happy life.
On the other hand "nirvana" entails extinguishing all desire- that's why it's humorous to meet a so-called "Buddhist" here in life which is certainly an expression of desire.
I just don't buy it.
What? Are you selling?
Some desire is called love. That's worth keeping. Many Buddhists seem to feel guilty for being attached to a person, and seek to minimise this feeling of attachment.
For example, this annoying load of crap.
"Each time my son has tripped and smashed his head on our maple wood floor, freezing my heart mid-beat, I’ve thought the same thing: we’re all born into constant danger, both ourselves and our loved ones. It may change its face as we age but never for one moment does it relax its grip. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could only develop a life state in which our worry over that danger ultimately became unimportant?"
I'm sure his son be distressed to hear that his father wants to stop worrying about when he bangs his head (repeatedly, on their maple wood floor).
Basically - selfish.
When I shop, I try to come home with the good, true, beautiful, valuable etc., but I leave much more behind. There are also things I haven't tried; it's hard to know if they qualify for keeps.
That's funny about the Buddhists you mention. If I were attached to Buddhism, a person, and guilt, I would focus on detaching from the guilt. The detachment from the person is inevitable. Finally, I would detach from Buddhism; most people would never know about that. But that's just me and I'm not a Buddhist.
I read your cited page; are you saying all of it is an annoying load of crap, or just parts? The sentence, 'Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could only develop a life state in which our worry over [that] danger ultimately became unimportant?' might be crap. But, his point that beliefs shape happiness seems valid.
"If such a life state isn’t possible, then we’re all doomed to have our happiness remain at the mercy of our changing environment, to gather to ourselves what external attachments we can and do our best to hide them from the purview of fate and circumstance, desperately hoping to avoid their loss even knowing eventually we will lose something critical to our happiness.
I know many people are resigned to believing this, but not me. One reason is that I’ve encountered patients who’ve lost spouses and even children who, though still carrying their sadness with them, have managed somehow not to be destroyed by it; who’ve not only learned to be happy again but even, in once case, to radiate joy. There’s something these people know that the rest of us don’t. But if they can learn it, so can we."
I strongly object to the fact that his overall personal objective is to avoid pain and to achieve happiness. What a baby. This sentence is particularly telling:
"There’s something these people know that the rest of us don’t."
There sure is! It's called unselfish love. If I love a person then I will put up with the pain of her loss without feeling guilty for being attached.
To me, this article illustrates very well an important principle about preaching, which is what this is. Think for your damn self. Feel it in your blood. Otherwise, please shut the fuck up until you've got something to say. As it is, Alex Lickerman MD has just told everyone to put their own happiness above their concern for others.
Over-intellectual, self-serving bullshit. All very New-Age.
Why are you so anxious to get rid of guilt? Sometimes guilt is appropriate, it shows that we have done something wrong. To dodge it is to dodge our responsibilities.
"The Buddha’s solution to the inevitability of the suffering of birth was to connect to a source of happiness that relied on nothing external, a connection he was ultimately only able to attain by using the pain of being separated from his attachments as a springboard."
This is rubbish, too. Always with the attachments. So Alex wants to be happy by painfully separating from his attachments. (That's good news for his son.)
"If I love a person then I will put up with the pain of her loss without feeling guilty for being attached. ,,,
,,, Why are you so anxious to get rid of guilt? Sometimes guilt is appropriate, it shows that we have done something wrong."
You're too cryptic. I don't understand.
I think that Jesus was in Nirvana, and he liked a drink and he liked his food. I think that many Born-Again Christians are in Nirvana too. This is a complete and physiological change in consciousness to one of vivid optimism and unconquerable strength. Sounds good, huh? I'm sure there are other factors involved too.