Is Desire the Root of Suffering?

| June 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

It is sometimes said that desire is the root of suffering, or that the Buddha claimed such a thing. We will look at the ways in which desire can be unskillful, including some that are very close to our hearts, and other ways in which desires can in fact be skillful. We will see that far from being solely the root of suffering, desire can also be the root of the escape from suffering.

Suttas mentioned:

Underlying Tendencies (AN 7.11)
Bhadraka Sutta (SN 42.11)
Bhūmija Sutta (MN 126)
Uṇṇābha the Brahmin (SN 51.15)
The Dart (SN 36.6)


David Webster, The Philosophy of Desire in the Buddhist Pali Canon

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About the Author ()

Doug is Study Director of the Secular Buddhist Association. He has a PhD in Philosophy, with a minor in Buddhist philosophy and Sanskrit. In 2013 he completed the year-long Integrated Study and Practice Program with the BCBS and NYIMC. A long time scientific skeptic, he pursues a naturalized approach to practice. He is also interested in scholarship about the Tipiṭaka, and the theoretical and historical origins of the dhamma. He posts videos at Doug's Secular Dharma on YouTube. Some of his writing can be found at

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