The Second Noble Truth: Summary

Dancing with Life (DWL) (pp. 133-148)

The Paradox of Desire

We have learned with the second noble truth that desire is not the problem.  The attachments (clinging and craving) that follow cause stress and suffering.  When we can abandon the clinging and craving, we feel a sense of joy and as Moffitt notes, we are truly dancing with life.  The paradox of desire is understanding how to find the proper role of desire in our life.

An Identity of Desire

How do you notice if you are desiring?  It often occurs when we want to want something such as when we are shopping.  Wanting to want something may come about because we are bored and want to distract ourselves or that we want to replace a negative experience with a positive one.  Wanting to want something can lead to a constant state of wanting.  This state has consequences.  We can never have enough, we become indiscriminate in what we want and we invite clinging and craving.

One Who Has No Expectations Is Never Disappointed.

The way to deal skillfully with desire is to live from skillful intention, not expectations.  In particular, we concentrate on letting go of any unskillful thoughts of ill-will or of harming others.  We let go of all other expectations even if they appear to be wholesome.  For example, we let go of becoming skillful and, instead, develop the intention to become skillful.  Our intention to live skillfully does not include the expectation that this will happen the way that we think it should.

We also recognize three types of attachments that occur with expectations, craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, and craving for non-becoming.  With intention, we can avoid these attachments because we are letting go of the outcomes.  We are “dancing with life.”

However, sticking to intention requires continued mindfulness as expectations will arise again and again.  And when they do, we observe and let go.

“Your life is based on being in the moment rather than on the outcome of that moment.”  (DWL p. 102).

The Ultimate Challenge of Letting Go

“Worse than the day-to-day uncertainty is the ego’s realization that its existence is time based and that there is a time in which it will not exist–it is going to die! It is daunting to have this capacity to know the certainty of your own end, without knowing when, where, or how, and that there is nothing you can do about it. (DWL pp. 142-143)

The three types of attachment noted above can arise in the mind to distract us.  Craving for sensual desires, becoming desires or non-becoming desires.  Being mindful and non-judgmental of these cravings allows us to see what is rather than be deluded.


  • Reread this talk and reflect on it.  Can you know when you want to want something?  When you know that you are attached, can you discern which of the types of craving you are experiencing?


  • Meditate as usual in your daily practice with concentration, insight and loving kindness (metta) practices.

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