It’s a misunderstanding to say that the Buddha’s teachings were trending in the direction of some “desireless” state as our existential end. . . . That is the fundamental confusion about Buddhism and desire in the West—that meditation is leading toward a flat-line life free of desire. No, desire will remain (because it’s wired into us). It’s the karma of craving that mindfulness can help us slip free of.

Meditation, if correctly wielded, is not about shoving desire to the side. It’s about learning to live with and learn from desire. Again, as brain science is increasingly clarifying, desire is part of our evolutionary emotional inheritance. Our karmic patterns rest not in the fact of desire in our brains, but instead in how we relate to desire when it arises. The Buddha would have us aim “higher” than what craving can deliver.

From The Five Hurdles to Happiness: And the Mindful Path to Overcoming Them by Mitch Abblett, PhD © 2018 by Mitch Abblett. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications

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