virus: Buddhism

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 26 Mar 1999 14:19:12 -0500

>>Didn't we hear about the four principles of Buddhism and
>>the Eight fold path to enlightenment on this list recently?
>We did, but in a follow-up I suggested that "desire" should
>be amended to "attachment". Much misunderstanding has been
>caused by that mistranslation. "Craving" is another, more
>appropriate term. To experience a desire for something is
>fine. To be addicted to the thing is something else again,
>and what Buddhism advises be eliminated is much more like
>psychological addiction, than like normal, healthy desire.
>I might feel I'd like a Snickers, but that only causes me to
>suffer if I crave it, if I feel I really must have it. And
>according to Buddhism, all suffering is caused by similar
>thinking. Eliminate that and you will no longer suffer, in
>fact you will be Enlightened. It's all about Attitude!

I'm going to skip looking it up becuase I think you make the point I was trying to make very well. Elimination of these cravings leaves a sense of serenity, even peace. It does not leave a sense of euphoric happiness which we associate with drugs, or the satisfaction of a craving like sexual preoccupation. To be happy in the sense of satisfying an addiction, you have to suffer from a period of craving first. You pound your head against the wall and then, when you stop, it feels so much better relative to the period of pain and privation.

My understanding of Buddhism is that it is an attempt to replace this cycle of privation and saturation with something more constant. But this thing, this clear light or whatever which is the ultimate goal, is not the same thing as the feeling of satisfying an addiction.

This is what I meant when I said that Buddhism offers and end to desire but not constant happiness. I would also say that Buddhism offers an end to craving but not constant euphoria. The difference is that the second statement is more obviously pro-Buddhist, where I'm ambivalent on the subject.

Anyway, I think we agree in mind if not in exact words or opinion. Is this clearer?


  Reed Konsler