+3 votes
by (390 points)
Are all desires bad? If a desire does not lead to dukkha is it okay to have such a desire?

If we desire something without wanting anything back in return and the desire just serves as a "motor" to get us to do things, such as studying or helping others without expecting nothing in return, is that all right?
by (390 points)
Thank you so much for this answer! I am new Buddhism so not that familiar with all the terms but eager to learn more and thanks to your answer I got to learn a lot (googling things to better understand! ;) ).

Thank you!!!
by (390 points)
That really makes sense! Thank you!
I had been confused about desires for quite some time as I thought all desires lead to suffering yet did not understand what "pushed" us to to things without any desires.

Now it all makes sense (well it makes a lot more sense ;) )! Thank you!!!
by (390 points)
Thanks so much for all those explanations! :) Have a wonderful day!
by (17.6k points)
You're welcome!

4 Answers

+2 votes
by (17.6k points)

There is a Cetasika(mental concomitant) called Chanda(Zeal). Chanda in and of itself is neither good nor bad. But when Chanda is associated with desire for sensual pleasures, it becomes Kamachanda and it is bad. When Chanda is associated with compassion, kindness, generosity etc., it is Kusalachanda and it is good. 

The Visuddhimagga (xiv, 150) defines chanda as follows:

Zeal (chanda) is a term for desire to act. So, that zeal has the characteristic of desire to act. Its function is scanning for an object. It is manifested as need for an object. That same (object) is its proximate cause. It should be regarded as the extending of the mental hand in the apprehending of an object. .

by (390 points)
Thank you so much for this answer! I am new Buddhism so not that familiar with all the terms but eager to learn more and thanks to your answer I got to learn a lot (googling things to better understand! ;) ).

Thank you!!!
by (17.6k points)
You're welcome!
+1 vote
by (2.9k points)
No. Not all desires are bad. In fact wholesome desire is a requisite to the practice. As you say, without a 'motor' to get going, nothing gets done. You're quite right about that. The challenge is to see the different forms of desire in your mind. To be able to differ between the wholesome and unwholesome desire and act only out of the wholesome one.

If you want a hint: unwholesome desire always comes with restlessness.
Hope this helps.
by (390 points)
That really makes sense! Thank you!
I had been confused about desires for quite some time as I thought all desires lead to suffering yet did not understand what "pushed" us to to things without any desires.

Now it all makes sense (well it makes a lot more sense ;) )! Thank you!!!
+1 vote
by (800 points)

All desires can lead to states of clinging which by definition is dukkha (stress/suffering/dis-ease).

Therefore if the goal is freedom from dukkha then all desires *are* bad. However some happen to be useful.

Desires can be classified into two types:

  1. Type 1: Desires rooted in ignorance (of 4NTs), unwholesome/unskillful, mind obsesses with the target, is a craving, is about controlling
  2. Type 2: Desires rooted in knowledge (of 4NTs), wholesome/skillful, inclines mind & lets go, is an aspiration, is about relinquishing

Type 1 desires are not useful in the path. They make one endlessly transition from one state of dukkha to another

Type 2 desires are however useful in the path. They make one transition to skillful states of clinging (e.g. equanimity) from which its easy to let go of all desires and therefore all dukkha. AN 3.76 provides a super cool analogy.

It's best to not intellectualize this stuff and instead see them in action in an intensive course.

by (390 points)
Thanks so much for all those explanations! :) Have a wonderful day!
0 votes
by (1.9k points)
All desires are form of attachments which binds us to Samsara and rebirth. But this is a positive karma because you desire this out of compassion. But if you look at it in terms of Nibbana then it is not in line with liberation.
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