When we look at an infant or a small child their desires seem both natural and simple. It is basically about food. Adult humans who want to study Buddhism don’t have desires that are natural and simple. They are more complex. I should add, too, that these desires easily become addictions. I need my cigarettes and my beer, just to name a few such addictions. Then I have a lot of things spinning around in my noggin. Lot’s of fantasies and dialogues going on—fear and anxiety, too. Even loneliness than I can’t seem to get rid off. All this can be thought of as blowback from our desires.
Now the question we need ask is where do these desires come from? Do they come from outside or inside? And if we want to control them do we look to the inside or to the outside? The obvious answer is desire starts from the inside. In a way, we are desire-beings existing through our conditioned psycho-physical body, enjoying the pleasures it offers (mainly sexual) while, at the same time, working to make more desires a reality. But as I briefly mentioned earlier, there is blowback from desire especially when it has turned into addiction: a certain desire that has to be repeated for fear that its absence should turn into psychological suffering.
In Buddhism the second noble truth which is about the origin of suffering is actually about clinging to the psycho-physical body, otherwise known as the five skandhas. We have to keep in mind that the first noble truth which is pain, is the five skandhas consisting of physical form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness. Our connecting with the body of suffering—the origin of suffering—occurs at conception so that we constantly desire it without a break except at the body’s death. According to the Buddha the only way to stop such desire is realize what is other than suffering, impermanence and not the atman. This is the unconditioned. With this realization we can then progressively liberate our actual self from its entanglement with the conditioned psycho-physical body.