One of the greatest cultural shocks of my life came from an unlikely source, a commentary on Zohar. Discussing the attributes of man, which were created by God ex nihilo, the rabbi mentioned craving: theoretically, for goodness, but then the entire Creation was good. Indeed, God lacks cravings because he is inherently full. For me, that bridged a gap between Judaism and Nietzsche: both proclaim the will to be good. Not only religious zeal of Pinchas’ type, but every will is good as long as it burns. Not the Buddhist ideal of sitting under a bodhi tree in vegetable state, but active life-burning like a firecracker. In a sense, the Buddhist dream is also a craving—for nirvana in the other world—which merits a sacrifice as huge as life itself.

Attainable goals are later found disgusting. Whether maximizing the number of female acquaintances or upgrading a car, the goals are shrugged off as soon as they are reached. The reason is paramount to human existence: in every situation, man craves goodness. Not knowing what goodness is, he mistakes it for sexual or consumerist desires. But having fulfilled those desires, he realizes that they are not goodness, because goodness, a divine trait, is inherently unattainable in full. Their very fulfillment testifies to the falsity of goals.

There is nothing wrong with fulfilling earthly objectives, that is what the evil inclination is for, and having created it, God remarked that “it is very good”—just like every other object of Creation. The tremendous success of Buddhism in the Western world is due to that religion providing a rationale for losing. Unable to get a woman or a house he wants, the man embraces the Buddhist teaching of refusing earthly desires. His failure is transformed into achievement: false but soothing.

One need not be afraid of desires, provided that they are sufficiently high-flown.