Conflict Among Desires

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu

Conflict Among Desires

In addition, desires often pull in opposite directions. Your desire for sex, for instance, can get in the way of your desire for peace.

In fact, conflict among desires is what alerts us to how painful desire can be. It’s also what has taught each desire how to speak, to persuade, to argue or bully its way into power.

And just because a desire is skillful doesn’t mean it’s more skillful at arguing its case than the unskillful ones, for those can often be the most intransigent, the most strident, the slickest in having their way.

This means that wisdom has to learn how to strategize, too, to strengthen skillful desires so that less skillful desires will listen to them. That way desires can be trained to work together toward greater happiness.

This is how a mature and healthy mind works: conducting a dialogue not so much between reason and desire as between responsible desires and irresponsible ones.

This reflection by Tan Ajaan Geoff is from the Essays book, Purity of Heart, “Pushing the Limits,” (pdf) p. 30.