Q: If greed is born from an unwholsome mind (Dhamma Letter No. 25) on the Path, then isn’t even wanting or wishing for enlightenment or the attainment of ultimate happiness a form of greed or desire as well? What’s the difference between the desire for living and the desire for enlightenment?
A: It might sound the same intellectually, but the function of the desire for living in the sensuous world (kamachanda) and the desire to realize Truth (dhamma chanda or kusala chanda) is totally different.
The Buddha said in Majjima Nikaya 39:
You can think like this, ‘This is enough. This has been achieved. It reaches the life of a meditator. We have no more work to do.’ And the person in charge may be satisfied. My monks, I inform you and declare to you. 'If there is more work left to be done for the practitioner and you who save life, you must not abandon the meditator's goal.
There are reasons we are born in the world of human beings. We must know deeply what they are and aim to first become fully human. Then, we must aim to fulfill our duty as humans by fully realizing ultimate Truth in a wholesome and skillful way. To accomplish that and to reach the ultimate happiness of liberation from suffering, a strong wholesome wish or desire is needed. This kind of desire is highly recommended by the Buddha.
The difference is in whether we are honestly and sincerely aiming to know Truth or not. To really know the truth of being born into the world, any world (whether as a human, a god or as any other being) is to possess a wisdom for stable happiness.
The key is in knowing in each moment whether there is a tendency towards suffering or a tendency towards liberation in the mind.
Until the eradication of all defilements, we have to use the desire or the tendency towards liberation as the rudder that keeps us going straight and forward in our practice.
The Buddha said that the practice of Dhamma on the Path is beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle, and beautiful in the end. It is our wholesome desire for this beautiful Dhamma that supports us on the path of Dhamma.
May you all be happy on the path of Dhamma!
May you all be eradicated all defilements!!
May you all continue your Dhamma practice for happiness!
Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha
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Bhikkuni Kosalla Vipassini is the Abbess of Mahapajapati Monastery in Pioneertown, California. For monastery updates, please see Mahapajapati’s Facebook. Donations are gratefully accepted, whether you volunteer your time, offer funds, or provide needed requisites for the monastics. If you are inspired to donate, you may do so here.
Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu!
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!
Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!
Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !