Ajahn Jayasaro (1958-present): Know your desires.
Buddhism distinguishes two kinds of desire: the first (tanha) to be abandoned and the second (chanda) to be cultivated.
Tanha is the desire that arises from a basic misunderstanding of the way things are: perceiving permanence, happiness and selfhood where they do not exist. Desire for the pleasures to be had through getting, getting rid of and becoming is tanha. Tanha leads to personal suffering and is the basis of almost all social ills.
Chanda is the desire that arises from a correct understanding of the way things are. At its heart lies the aspiration for truth and goodness. Desire to do well, desire to act well, desire to act kindly, desire to act wisely — all desires based on an aspiration for the true and good lead to personal fulfillment and healthy communities.
The distinction between chanda and tanha is not philosophical but psychological. By looking closely at the raw experience of life the distinction between desires that lead to genuine happiness and those that do not becomes increasingly clear.
The above is extracted from the book ‘Without and Within’ which is freely downloadable here. Ajahn Jayasaro was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1980 and studied with the famous Thai forest monk Ajahn Chah. He was abbot of Wat Pa Nanachat in Northeast Thailand for several years and now lives in a hermitage near the Khao Yai mountains.