Chapter 6. Equation of Desire



Sensual desire is the state of mind which can lead to either [worldly] pleasure or displeasure.  In Buddhism, we regard the effect of sensual desire as being more negative rather than positive since sensual desire is one of the negative factors or hindrances that prevent us from advancing into meditation until attaining enlightenment.

Principally, the ‘desire’ alone can be either wholesome or unwholesome.  When the desire is wholesome, we will wish in the wholesome way such as eager to practice the Dhamma or develop virtues.  When the desire is unwholesome, it causes us to cling to (1) the material stimulants, and (2) the motivational thought.

The material stimulants that cause us to have ‘craving’ comprises of (i) sight (ii) sound (iii) smell (iv) taste, and (v) bodily feeling.  As our mind craves in response to the aforesaid stimulants, it becomes sensual desire.  If the craving is not fulfilled, our mind turns to be restless and suffering.  Thus, it stimulates us to struggle further to fulfill the sensual desire.  This goes on endlessly since we will have more new desires towards new and different stimulants that occur from time to time throughout our lifetime.

The motivational thought works in the same manner as the material stimulants.  As such, we keep thinking about past, present, and future in the craving way wishing for fulfillment.  This means that the mind makes the mind itself craving and desirous.  Thus, it causes our mind to be restless and suffering, especially when the craving is strong and unfulfilled.  Other than the material stimulants that motivate the mind, it can also work reversely or responsively that the desirous mind motivates our perceptions (sight, sound, smell, taste, and bodily feeling) further as well as the desirous mind motivating the mind itself.

Indeed, if the mental desire or ‘craving’ can be eliminated or eradicated, the material stimulants will not be able to negatively stimulate our mind in any way, and the motivational thought of craving will also cease.

In consideration of all of the above Buddhist teachings altogether, we can derive a Dhammonomic equation of Sensual Desire as follows:

Sensual Desire = (sight + sound + smell + taste + bodily feeling) x Craving

Mental Desire = Thought x Craving

Desire = (sight + sound + smell + taste + bodily feeling + thought) x Craving

As such, we can eliminate the sensual desire with the Threefold Training as follows:

(1)  Observing morality for the mind by disciplining our ‘perceptions’ through sight, sound, smell, taste, and bodily feeling.

(2)  Practicing meditation to achieve mental calm in order to minimize our desirous thought and craving

(3)  Using wisdom to contemplate over the Dhamma in order to know, understand, and realize the truth about sensual desire and craving on how they work, so we can minimize and/or eliminate them without wisdom.


By Pittaya Wong

17 August 2018


Source of our doctrinal study:

Anupubbhigatadhipani Volume 4: The Harm of Sensual Desire by P. Satitwan