Limiting Desires

Published: 23.10.2006
Updated: 02.12.2010 Desires

Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants sorrow. He searches the way to achieve happiness. He tries to accumulate material things to satisfy his ever growing needs. In the earlier times, these material things were used to fulfill the basic necessities of life. As the time passed the outlook for the basic necessities was completely replaced by more and more comfort limited desires, limited necessities and limited materials. These are basic requirements for mental peace. But according to today’s economist, the above requirements do not hold true.


The present world believes in unlimited desires, unlimited necessities and unlimited materials. Such unlimited wants give rise ‘to a material based culture’ and the life style based on the policy of ‘make use and throw away’. It creates mental imbalance, dis-satisfaction and mental stress. It further leads to environmental imbalance. More use of plastic can be a good example to illustrate such an imbalance. The greatest problem with the use of plastic is of disposing them as they are non biodegradable and if burnt, they produce poisonous gases, which pollutes the environment. The persons who leads a life full of comforts ignores this problem completely. Without developing the principle of non-violence, such problems cannot be solved.

Violence and material - both can be taken as two sides of a same coin. More the material, greater is violence and vice versa. Lord Mahavir explained life's type in the following three categories:

  1. Limited desires, limited violence, limited possession.

  2. Unlimited desires, unlimited violence, unlimited possession.

  3. Free from desires, non-violence, non-possession.

The first two life styles exist in the present society. The third life style is related to spirituality. More desires and materials cannot be expected to reduce the amount of violence. In brief, desires, violence and possession cannot be separated, they rather go hand in hand.

In order to fulfill desires, man has started new inventions without realizing the disadvantage and the problems upcoming with such inventions. For example man is aware of the fact that the ozone layer present is atmosphere is very essential for a man to survive on earth. It protests us from ultra-violent rays. Similarly the inventions like that of refrigerators and air-conditioners produce various gases that are harmful for the ozone layer. This is great concern to the scientists.

The only solution to the above disadvantages is limited and economical use of available materials because the major cause for violence is ever increasing needs and wants of human being.

Economic disparity and violence

Non-violence and non-possession are complementary to each other. Non-violence cannot be understood without understanding non-possession and vice versa.

The question arises as to why does a man become violent? A very simple answer to this question is to have possession of every thing including his body, family, land money and power.

Therefore to solve the problem of violence, Lord Mahavira gave a deep thought about non-possession. He never said “ not to earn and accumulate money” but he propounded to limit the unlimited desires and materials. Lesser the desires, the lesser will be possession and violence. So we can say that unless the desires are made limited “ the methodology of personal ownership” by Marx and that of “trusteeship” by Gandhi can not be executed.

The conflict between possession and non-possession and economical similarity and disparity still exist. Lord mahavira expounded two principles to solve the above conflict.

  1. Limit the desire

  2. Limit the consumption

Economic development: economic restraint

The only way out for economic management is to fulfill the basics needs of the society, i.e. food, shelter and clothing. this can only be possible if economic development is followed with restrain on consumption. At present economic development in relation to production, income and its distribution ahs laid much stress, as the two major aspects - limited desires and limited consumption are being ignored.

If the economist take in consideration the thought of limited desires and limited consumption along with economic development, then the sustainable development can be achieved and we can hope for a peaceful world to lie in. limit word means to fulfill necessities only and not to go for luxuries of any kind. This limit is to be review from time to time. Development and luxuries are two different concepts.

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. 24. Tirthankara Mahavira
  2. Body
  3. Environment
  4. Mahavir
  5. Non-violence
  6. Sustainable Development
  7. Violence
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