All phenomena, the Buddha once said, are rooted in desire. Everything we think, say, or do—every experience—comes from desire. Even we come from desire. We were reborn into this life because of our desire to be. Consciously or not, our desires keep redefining our sense of who we are. Desire is how we take our place in the causal matrix of space and time. The only thing not rooted in desire is nirvana, for it’s the end of all phenomena and lies even beyond the Buddha’s use of the word “all.” But the path that takes you to nirvana is rooted in desire—in skillful desires. The path to liberation pushes the limits of skillful desires to see how far they can go.

– Thanissaro Bhikkhu, from “Pushing the Limits,” Tricycle, Fall 2005

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