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There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires. ~ Gautama Buddha
Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained. ~ William Blake
In the beginning the body causes difficulties because it claims its rights without realizing that it is cutting off its own head by not surrendering. ~ Teresa of Avila
If one is able to become deeply aware of the negative consequences of desires, one will not become involved in them. This is what is meant by renouncing desire. ~ Zhiyi

Desire is a strong wish or craving.

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  • There are two futures, the future of desire and the future of fate, and man's reason has never learnt to separate them. Desire, the strongest thing in the world, is itself all future, and it is not for nothing that in all the religions the motive is always forwards to an endless futurity of bliss or annihilation. Now that religion gives place to science the paradisical future of the soul fades before the Utopian future of the species, and still the future rules. But always there is, on the other side, destiny, that which inevitably will happen, a future here concerned not as the other was with man and his desires, but blindly and inexorably with the whole universe of space and time. The Buddhist seeks to escape from the Wheel of Life and Death, the Christian passes through them in the faith of another world to come, the modern reformer, as unrealistic but less imaginative, demands his chosen future in this world of men.
    Can we in any better way reconcile desire and fate?
    • John Desmond Bernal, The World, the Flesh and the Devil : an Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul (1929) Ch. 1 The Future, pp. 7-8.
  • This absoluteness of desire uninhibited by thoughts of virtue … represents the turn in philosophy away from trying to tame or perfect desire by virtue, and toward finding out what one’s desire is and living according to it. This is largely accomplished by criticizing virtue, which covers and corrupts desire. Our desire becomes a kind of oracle we consult; it is now the last word, while in the past it was the questionable and dangerous part of us.
    • Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), p. 175.




  • Since, of desires some are natural and necessary; others natural, but not necessary; and others neither natural nor necessary, but the offspring of false judgment; it must be the office of temperance to gratify the first class, as far as nature requires: to restrain the second within the bounds of moderation; and, as to the third, resolutely to oppose, and, if possible, entirely repress them.
    • Epicurus, as quoted in Ancient and Modern Celebrated Freethinkers (Half-Hours with the Freethinkers) by Charles Bradlaugh, A. Collins, and J. Watts (1877)


  • Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, As quoted in Subcontact : Slap the Face of Fear and Wake Up Your Subconscious‎ (2001) by Dian Benson, p. 149
    • Variant: Everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires.


  • The ultimate meaning of desire is death.
    • Rene Girard, in Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque [Deceit, Desire and the Novel : Self and Other in Literary Structure] (1961), p. 290.
  • There is a cause of suffering. Suffering is due to attachment. It is the desire to have and control things. It can take many forms: craving of sensual pleasures; the desire for fame; the desire to avoid unpleasant sensations, like fear, anger or jealousy.
  • The more desires one has, the more they will suffer. Our mere existence is suffering. In our life we distinguish pleasure from suffering and tend to cling to pleasure. This is our inherent nature. But suffering is inseparable from pleasure, for one is never found without the other. Therefore, the more we seek pleasure and avoid suffering, the more entangled we become in the duality of pleasure and suffering. Be content with our state of being. If we are not satisfied with our state of being we will be slaves to the five desires which stem from the five senses.


  • What the English call “comfortable” is something endless and inexhaustible. Every condition of comfort reveals in turn its discomfort, and these discoveries go on for ever. Hence the new want is not so much a want of those who have it directly, but is created by those who hope to make profit from it.


  • What we should desire creeps silently inside us and replaces what we really desire. ... We take jobs, make compromises, and settle down for the long wait, for the arrival of the future that will bring the reward of happiness we so justly deserve for our sacrifice of the pleasures of the moment. The process is so slow we scarcely notice the substitution of plastic for flesh. We forget how the body sang when it ran free; how it rejoiced in stretching, rolling, skipping, dancing, walking, eating, loving, bounding, leaping, resting.

    Gradually the body begins to change to protect itself against the intrusion of joy or sorrow. It armors itself against the threat of playfulness and spontaneity. ... The working body is complete when it is thus armed against those emotions that would threaten the primacy of the work ethic and the pattern of delayed gratification upon which it rests.

    • Sam Keen, The Passionate Life (1992), pp. 102-103
  • The First Truth is an assertion that all manifested life is sorrow, unless man knows how to live it... the Cause of Sorrow is always desire. If a man has no desires, if he is not striving for place or power or wealth, then he is equally tranquil whether the wealth or position comes or whether it goes. He remains unruffled and serene.... Being human, he will of course wish for this or that, but always mildly and gently, so that he does not allow himself to be disturbed.
  • How often, for example, a young man desires affection from someone who cannot give it to him, who has it not to give! From such a desire as that comes often a great deal of sadness, jealousy and much other ill-feeling. You will say that such a desire is natural; undoubtedly it is, and affection which is returned is a great source of happiness. Yet if it cannot be returned, a man should have the strength to accept the situation, and not allow sorrow to be caused by the unsatisfied desire.


  • We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance.


  • Normal men retain their childish longing for a woman to mother them. At adolescence a new desire is added. They wanta girl to allure them. When you put these two together, you have the typical male yearning Wonder Woman satisfies.
    • William Moulton Marston as quoted in Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones
  • It is the desire for "the more" that prevents clear thinking, whereas if we are discontent, not because we want something, but without knowing what we want; if we are dissatisfied with our jobs, with making money, with seeking position and power, with tradition, with what we have and with what we might have; if we are dissatisfied, not with anything in particular but with everything, then I think we shall find that our discontent brings clarity. When we don't accept or follow, but question, investigate, penetrate, there is an insight out of which comes creativity, joy.


  • The church combats passion by means of excision of all kinds. Its practice, its remedy is castration. It never inquires, “How can a desire be spiritualized, beautified, deified.” In all ages it has laid the weight of discipline in the process of extirpation. The extirpation of sensuality, pride, lust of dominion, lust of property, and revenge. But to attack the passions at the roots means attacking life itself at its source. The method of the church is hostile to life.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, Ch. 5 “Morality as Anti-Nature” § 5.1 (Ludovici trans.)
  • Science ... cannot conceive of any means of achieving that escape from desires we call "contentment" otherwise than through the satisfaction of those desires; it has not yet learnt that there is no limit to the multiplication of desires, nor that, since different people's desires are often mutually incompatible, an indefinite multiplication of desires increases conflict as well as discontent.


  • Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata.
    • We are always striving for things forbidden, and coveting those denied us.
    • Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), III. 4. 17.


  • The really clever thing, in affairs of this sort, is not to win a woman already desired by everyone, but to discover such a prize while she is still unknown.
  • I like desires like children
    and their plays
    that tease me now and then into
    knowing life.
  • I salute my desires with a bow.,
    were it not for them to come and play
    mind would be empty just like me.
  • The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
    • Proverbs 13:4, New International Version


  • So is it other than the religion of Allah they desire, while to Him have submitted (all) those within the heavens and earth, willingly or by compulsion, and to Him they will be returned?
  • But if they do not respond to you – then know that they only follow their [own] desires. And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from God? Indeed, God does not guide the wrongdoing people.
  • Have you seen he who has taken as his god his (own) desire, and God has sent him astray due to knowledge and has set a seal upon his hearing and his heart and put over his vision a veil? So who will guide him after God? Then will you not be reminded?
  • Is then he who has a clear argument from his Lord similar to him to whom his evil conduct is made fair-seeming; and they follow their low desires.


  • Had doting Priam checked his son's desire,
    Troy had been bright with fame and not with fire.
  • There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.


  • In the beginning the body causes difficulties because it claims its rights without realizing that it is cutting off its own head by not surrendering.
    • Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection, as translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez, O. C. D., in The Collected Works of Saint Teresa of Avila (1980), pp. 142-143


  • If people were told: what makes carnal desire imperious in you is not its pure carnal element. It is the fact that you put into it the essential part of yourself—the need for Unity, the need for God—they wouldn’t believe it. To them it seems obvious that the quality of imperious need belongs to the carnal desire as such. In the same way it seems obvious to the miser that the quality of desirability belongs to gold as such, and not to its exchange value.


  • If one is able to become deeply aware of the negative consequences of desires, one will not become involved in them. This is what is meant by renouncing desire.
    • Zhiyi, The Essentials of Buddhist Meditation, as translated by Bhikshu Dharmamitra (Klavinka Buddhist Classics: 2009), p. 53

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 189.
  • Passing into higher forms of desire, that which slumbered in the plant, and fitfully stirred in the beast, awakes in the man.
  • Nil cupientium
    Nudus castra peti.
    • Naked I seek the camp of those who desire nothing.
    • Horace, Carmina, Book III. 16. 22.
  • Velle suum cuique est, nec voto vivitur uno.
    • Each man has his own desires; all do not possess the same inclinations.
    • Persius, Satires, V, 53.
  • As the hart panteth after the water-brooks.
    • Psalms. XLII. 1.
  • Oh! could I throw aside these earthly bands
    That tie me down where wretched mortals sigh—
    To join blest spirits in celestial lands!
    • Petrarch, To Laura in Death, Sonnet XLV.
  • The desire of the moth for the star,
    Of the night for the morrow,
    The devotion to something afar
    From the sphere of our sorrow.
  • We grow like flowers, and bear desire,
    The odor of the human flowers.

See also

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