Dear Laurie,

Just had a question in regards to desire in Buddhism in general.

Is it correct that its the attachment and craving of desire that we look to extinguish or is it the desire itself?

For example we desire to be happy which is fine. However is it the attachement and craving to happiness that causes us the suffering or is it just the desire to be happy in general?

Kind Regards,


Hello Nik -

Thanks for letting me answer your question.

As with most Buddhist questions - even the simple ones, I think you might get a different answer from me than from other Buddhists you would ask but I will answer based on the way that I have learned and understand it.

For me your question is kind of a trick one as the folks I study from call what you are asking about "desirous attachment" or craving.  

So the way I learned it, I believe that desire can fall in the same category as craving or attachment because all of these words tend to have the idea behind them that if I don't get what I crave, desire or am attached to then I will be unhappy. And for me the reason to study Dharma is to learn how to let go of being unhappy.

But technically you are correct - there is nothing wrong with wanting or wishing to be happy or wanting some ice cream or wanting a nice car or partner. I believe that the Buddha wanted everyone to be happy.

The problem comes when our attachment, craving or desire to get something we want or to avoid something we don't want causes us to think, do or feel things that disturb our mind. This brings about us talking, acting or thinking in unskillful ways which create negative actions of our body speech or mind. These negative actions cause us to create negative karma because they cause suffering to ourselves and/or others.

I hope that makes sense and answers your question at least in part.

If not, don't hesitate to let me know and I will try to clarify my answer further.

Take care - Laurie  


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Laurie McLaughlin


I can answer questions about basic Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism and meditation especially how the Buddha's teachings can help us in day to day living.


I have been studying Mahayana Buddhism and meditation since 2001. I have lead meditation classes and retreats for over 5 years. I have lived at a Buddhist retreat center for over 4 years and am currently ordained as a novice Buddhist nun. My nun name is Gyalten Yanghchen.

I hold a BA degree in technical theatre from the University of South Florida.

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