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Monthly Dharma Thoughts

Those with few desires know satisfaction


The Nirvana Sutra has a famous saying: ‘To have few desires is to know satisfaction.’That is, the secret to being satisfied is to put a check on our desires.


We want to enjoy our lives, to have something good to eat, to have something nice to wear: indeed, our desires are many. Seeking a better situation for ourselves and working hard to get what we want, we look forward to a brighter future for ourselves, and civilization as a whole makes progress as a result.


The problem is, our desires well up one after another in unending stream, no stopping them. We run ourselves ragged trying to satisfy these desires, leading to scenes of ugly conflict along the way.


The Buddha says that, as the suffering this pursuit incurs is more than we bargained for, we must not let ourselves be led by the nose by these desires. As an important first step to curbing them, we have to wake up to what we already have.


A moment’s thought is all we need to realize the many things we already have. However, when we are blind to what we have, we live only to satisfy our desire for more. Is this not a true picture of what we are? 


Our first step as students of Buddhism is to curb these desires, to become aware of the kindness shown us by others, and of how much we have received from the bounties of nature, from which we partake of the life of other living things.


We must not become so wound up by our desires as to completely lose sight of who we are. We must not fail to see the living world around us that is giving us life. Finally, it is important to feel a sense of gratitude in the depths of our being for all that we have already been provided with. This is what Buddhism teaches.