Like the title says, I am utterly controlled by my desires. This makes me delusional and often clouds my judgement. How does one break through the barrier of desire, to see rationally? It's basically all you can do. Realise that those desires lead to suffering should you not get them, and even if you do it only makes you want more and becomes a cycle of satisfying the insatiable appetite for achievement of materialistic or egocentric goals, and so eventually you won't "succeed", and then you're not fulfilled.
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Focus on the only thing which is in your control, virtue, or making the most rational moral decisions. It takes time for this to become subconscious, automatic thinking, but the more you reflect on your thinking when you feel psychological pain, anger or just an emptiness, the more you realise it was because of things you got or didn't get that were outside your control. It is of course natural to have desires, to let them control you is another thing entirely.
This is where one of the Stoic pillar virtues, Temperance, comes in. If you begin to feel as though your desires are clouding your judgement, just remind yourself that virtue is the only good, and that these desires do not lead to lasting fulfilment, whereas virtue, which requires rational thought, does.
Thank you for the informative reply. For some reason I've only really recently realised how much damage desire can do. What can you do, when you know that material things are clouding you, and you know that it is not real happiness those things give you, but you still can't fight that urge, because it is so strong.
How can one practice this? I have the knowledge, but sometimes it feels like I need more, the knowledge alone isn't enough to fight it. For me it's enough to know that every desire that I've managed to fulfill has always been immediately replaced by another desire. If your desire is to meet some status quo or acquire some object, you will unfailingly attach too much value to that desire and will be disappointed when it doesn't have the effect on your life that you hoped it would. If your desire is to get the girl you've had your eye on for months, you will get her and then notice all kinds of things about her that suddenly aren't good enough any more.
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The point is: There will always be a next stone to hop to, and none will every be truly gratifying. The question is: How can we rise above them? Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Bnei Baruch is a global organisation under the leadership of Michael Laitman and dedicated to widening access to Kabbalah.
This site is the learning platform dedicated to provide information and support to Bnei Baruch students in Europe. On the other hand, more abstract terminal desires may be less motivated because our emotions fail to back them, or back them but only feebly. Unfortunately, the extent to which a non-biological terminal desire is supported by the emotions seems to be completely out of our control.
Conversely, it is possible for the intellect to rebel against the emotions and reject a highly motivated terminal desire, but the slave is not as strong as the master and risks being whipped back into his den. Finally, desires can also be divided into natural and unnatural desires. Natural desires such as those for food and shelter are naturally limited. In contrast, unnatural or vain desires such as those for fame, power, or wealth are potentially unlimited. The Ancient philosopher Epicurus teaches that natural desires, though difficult to eliminate, are both easy and highly pleasurable to satisfy, and should be satisfied.
In contrast, unnatural diseases are neither easy nor highly pleasurable to satisfy, and should be eliminated.
Unnatural desires, which are unlimited, have their roots not in nature but in society. Fame, power, and wealth can all be understood in terms of the desire for social status. Indeed, were we to be the last person on earth, being famous, powerful, or wealthy would not only be of no use but would be meaningless. Our desires would be radically different than they are now, and, leaving aside our loneliness , we would stand a much better chance of satisfaction.
Society also gives rise to destructive desires such as the desire to make others envy us, or the desire to see others fail, or, at least, not succeed as much as us. We suffer not only from our own destructive desires but also from the destructive desires of others, turning into the target and victim of their insecurities.
By overcoming the desire to satisfy, please, impress, or better others, we can start living for ourselves, free from unnatural and destructive desires. Diogenes the Cynic, who was a contemporary of Plato in Ancient Athens, taught by living example that wisdom and happiness belong to the person who is independent of society. After being exiled from his native Sinope for having defaced its coinage, Diogenes moved to Athens, took up the life of a beggar, and made it his mission to metaphorically deface the coinage of custom and convention, which, he maintained, was the false coin of morality.
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Diogenes was not impressed with his fellow men, not even with Alexander the Great, who, it is said, came to meet him one morning while he was lying in the sunlight. He used to stroll around Athens in broad daylight brandishing an ignited lamp. Luckily, there is no need to imitate Diogenes, and still less to banish desire. Instead, we need to master desire, because, paradoxically, it is only by mastering our desires that we can live life to its fullest.
And it is only by mastering our desires that we might at last find some measure of peace. I like to think of the story of Adam and Eve as the realization and disappointment that our desires may never be fulfilled kicked out of the garden and forced to toil in the dirt. I would add that things change in the course of a lifetime. The young man may be more interested in mischief than 'finding god' and the old man may be more interested in morality and philosophy than debauchery.
The transition between these states can create a mid-life crisis, as you mention, and this situation can be exploited by some religions and ideologies for nefarious purposes. Neel Burton, M.
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