Desire or Aspiration – Can a Buddhist Want Anything?
Ajahn Pasanno
Spirit Rock Daylong, Jun. 14, 2015
Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California
2 sessions, 16 excerpts, 1:07:56 total duration

Ajahn Pasanno differentiates between skillful and unskillful desire, distinguishing between two Pāli words that are translated as desire: taṇhā, which is a cause of suffering, and chanda, which is one of the Four Bases of Success.

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Sessions:    1    2
Session 1 – Ajahn Pasanno – Jun. 14, 2015 Download audio (36:55)

Download audio (1:38)
1. [1:22] “Was the Buddha's life so miserable that he kept thinking about all these ideas? Where did his motivation come from?” [Buddha/Biography] [Suffering] [Desire] [Monastic life/Motivation] // [Western psychology] [Rebirth] [Spiritual search]


Download audio (2:42)
2. [3:00] “If the Buddha had been born elsewhere, would he have turned out the same way?” [Buddha/Biography] [Cultural context] // [Commentaries] [Culture/India] [Spiritual search] [Renunciation] [Mahāyāna] [Saṃsāra]


Download audio (4:27)
3. [5:54] “I've been confused between intention and desire. For me, desire arises from non-conceptual craving.” [Volition] [Craving] [Desire] [Language] // [Cause of Suffering] [Right Effort] [Happiness] [Kamma] [Pāli]


Download audio (2:13)
4. [10:35] “Are all manifestations of desire and motivation ultimately a desire for happiness or are there motivations for truly negative things?” [Desire] [Craving] [Volition] [Happiness] [Unskillful qualities] [Nature of mind] // [Ill-will] [Fear] [Discernment]


Download audio (2:15)
5. [12:48] “I'm not sure how to be with close friends or family members who out of a desire to avoid pain and find happiness engage in self-destructive behaivor that also harms those around them.” [Family] [Spiritual friendship] [Unskillful qualities] [Craving] [Compassion] // [Discernment]

Sutta: Maṅgala Sutta: Don't associate with fools.


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6. [15:07] “How did you get through the 106° heat? Did you have a different schedule?” [Abhayagiri] [Culture/Natural environment] // [Mindfulness of breathing] [Work]

Story: Ajahn Pasanno attends a very hot ordination at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. [Ajahn Pasanno] [City of Ten Thousand Buddhas] [Ordination]


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7. [17:32] “Are there different stages of enlightenment?” [Stages of awakening] // [Stream entry]

Follow-up: “And how would one know if you've reached the first stage [of awakening]?” [Doubt] [Self-identity view] [Not-self] [Liberation] [Attachment to rites and rituals] [Knowledge and vision]


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8. [21:57] “What to do when you have a lot of freedom in your mind, but in your body you're stuck with a bad habit?” [Desire] [Liberation] [Heart/mind] [Form] [Habits] [Craving] // [Direct experience] [Meditation/Techniques] [Language] [Mindfulness of breathing]


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9. [25:00] “Could you speak to how we sink into a place and you lift yourself with brightness?” [Gladdening the mind] // [Concentration] [Meditation] [Language] [Spaciousness]


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10. [28:15] “Any advice for cures for burnout? I'm in a helping profession and feel depleted and exhausted. I need help getting the balance between giving and receiving.” [Depression] [Work] [Health] [Generosity] [Compassion] // [Culture/West] [Idealism] [Commentaries] [Selfishness]

Quote: “Compassion in the English language means 'to suffer with.' If you end up suffering with too much, you end up burnt out.” [Language] [Suffering]

Quote: “Don't think you're a ten-wheeled dump truck when all you are is a wheelbarrow.” — Ajahn Chah [Ajahn Chah]

Commentary: Path of Purification by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, p. 291: Classical cultivation of goodwill and compassion, first to yourself. [Goodwill]

Quote: “Our ability to be with others and to help and to give is dependent on our being kind and compassionate to ourselves.” [Spiritual friendship] [Self-reliance]


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11. [34:03] “Is sexuality and wanting an intimate connection with another considered a negative desire?” [Sensual desire] [Relationships] [Desire] [Unskillful qualities] // [Food] [Clear comprehension] [Compassion] [Selfishness] [Discernment] [Precepts] [Trust]

Quote: “It's not so much a matter of thwarting desire, but understanding how desire works so we can build those bonds of trust and care.”


Session 2 – Ajahn Pasanno – Jun. 14, 2015 Download audio (34:26)

Download audio (10:31)
1. [0:00] “I've been struggling with sleepiness while trying to meditate, having the intention to be present and aware, but finding myself dozing off.” [Sloth and torpor] [Clear comprehension] [Meditation retreats] // [Conditionality] [Lay life] [Craving not to become] [Directed thought and evaluation]

Story: Ajahn Boon Choo meditates through tiredness after staying up for days. [Ajahn Boon Choo] [Kaṭhina] [Wat Pah Pong] [Energy] [Devotion to wakefulness] [Ardency]

Quote: “The boundaries we set for ourselves are oftentime much smaller than what we can actually deal with, work with, or be with.” [Self-identity view] [Clinging] [Patience]


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2. [10:33] “A film came out recently called Monk with a Camera. How does one balance between pursuing one's artistic interests and sincerely following a path of relinquishment.” [Monastic life] [Renunciation] [Artistic expression] // [Self-identity view] [Relinquishment] [Entertainment and adornment] [Generosity] [Energy] [Devotional practice]

Story: Rev. Heng Sure uses music to teach Dhamma. [Rev. Heng Sure] [Teaching Dhamma]

Story: Two Abhayagiri monks learn icon painting from the abbot of the Ukrainian Uniate monastery next door. [Abhayagiri] [Ajahn Jotipālo] [Christianity]


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3. [20:14] “A lot of my life has been based on guilt, punishment, achievement, feeling driven, and perfectionism. Recently I experienced the reverse of this. Perfectionism is mixed up with wholesome desire. Could you respond?” [Guilt/shame/inadequacy] [Judgementalism] [Idealism] [Desire] [Contentment] // [Discernment] [Self-identity view] [Human]

Story: Ajahn Pasanno can't translate the question 'How do I work with guilt?' into Thai. [Ajahn Paññānanda] [Ajahn Pasanno] [Language] [Culture/West] [Culture/Thailand] [Suffering]


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4. [27:00] “I've heard 'not being in control' as a description of anatta. In relation to desire, do we really have any choice or free will in the context of Buddhist understanding?” [Not-self] [Desire] [Volition] [Nature of the cosmos] // [Kamma] [Clear comprehension] [Right Effort]


Download audio (3:14)
5. [30:56] “Do we have any control over the arising of desire?” [Volition] [Desire] // [Cause of Suffering] [Relinquishment] [Four Noble Truths] [Cessation of Suffering] [Cessation] [Pāli]