Our Root Desires

What are human desires exactly? They’re our innate needs and wants that drive, incite, and energize us; the invisible forces that spur and motivate our choices every day. They transcend geography, culture, even time. They're what humanity has in common. And there are seven, what I call our root desires:

  1. For food and drink 

  2. For sex and intimacy 

  3. To create and produce

  4. For worth and honor

  5. For justice and fairness

  6. For security and freedom

  7. To be known and accepted 

Each one of these root desires is good, God-given, and offers us a picture of what it means to be a human being. But like all good things God has made, they have the horrifying possibility of shriveling into vice, dragging us deeper into pride; or flowering into virtue, lifting us higher into divine love. We cannot ignore desire, if we do, we'll misunderstand the war inside us—and I can hardly find words to say how important I think this is—desire is not our enemy, the vices are. It’s the vices—gluttony, lust, sloth, envy, wrath, greed, and vainglory—that have been contending for our root desires from the day we came alive. Every one of us has experienced their diminishing force—some more from gluttony and lust, others more from wrath and envy. Regardless of their combination or strength, we all, to some degree, suffer from every single one of them. The goal in the spiritual life is to liberate desire, that is, kill vice and cultivate virtue.