Author Topic: "Our business is about creating desire"  (Read 8499 times)

The Zennonite

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"Our business is about creating desire"
« on: August 27, 2014, 06:39:26 AM »
The cover of the current Forbes magazine (September 8, 2014) quotes Hermes CEO Axel Dumas stating: "Our business is about creating desire." Props for honesty, I guess.

By contrast, the Buddha taught that desire is the cause of suffering. "Desire is poverty. Desire is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire is a very great evil."

Adventine

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2014, 06:51:37 AM »
Yup. Pretty much all luxury brands are about selling desire, status, and power in the form of physical products.

slugline

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2014, 07:43:52 AM »
If you didn't tell me this was the Hermes CEO, I might have guessed that their product was narcotics....

Threshkin

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 10:34:18 AM »
If you didn't tell me this was the Hermes CEO, I might have guessed that their product was narcotics....

Is there a difference?

Quark

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2014, 01:35:03 PM »
I'm so glad I never even heard of Hermes until I read this forum.

solon

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2014, 01:46:20 PM »
The cover of the current Forbes magazine (September 8, 2014) quotes Hermes CEO Axel Dumas stating: "Our business is about creating desire." Props for honesty, I guess.

By contrast, the Buddha taught that desire is the cause of suffering. "Desire is poverty. Desire is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire is a very great evil."

If we slightly modify the Buddha quote to: "Desire [for luxury goods] is poverty. Desire [for luxury goods] is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire [for luxury goods] in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire [for luxury goods] is a very great evil.", then I'm OK with it. Otherwise I disagree with the great Buddha. Desire, by itself, is NOT a bad thing. I desire food, shelter, world peace, and my wife. I desire a warm bed and a laughing family. I dare the Buddha to tell me these things are bad.

gildedbutterfly

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 02:14:10 PM »
If we slightly modify the Buddha quote to: "Desire [for luxury goods] is poverty. Desire [for luxury goods] is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire [for luxury goods] in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire [for luxury goods] is a very great evil.", then I'm OK with it. Otherwise I disagree with the great Buddha. Desire, by itself, is NOT a bad thing. I desire food, shelter, world peace, and my wife. I desire a warm bed and a laughing family. I dare the Buddha to tell me these things are bad.

Those things aren't bad, but desire for them leads to attachment. Attachment leads to unhappiness because everything is impermanent. So the Buddha's point is, you can enjoy all of those things in this moment, but to desire them, to become attached to them, puts your happiness in having them.

Or, to put it another way: if you ended up homeless, would you lose your capacity for happiness? If your wife leaves you, clearly you would be depressed/angry/upset, but would it prevent you from finding joy and fulfillment in your life? World peace has not been achieved, so are you incapable of living a full life without it?

I suspect that your definition of desire and the Buddha's are different, but his point is that desire leads to attachment which leads to pain. It's kind of like Gandhi's famous phrase, "Your thoughts become words, and your words become actions." It's the chain effect, not the individual link in the chain, that is the problem.

dcheesi

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2014, 03:23:10 PM »
If we slightly modify the Buddha quote to: "Desire [for luxury goods] is poverty. Desire [for luxury goods] is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire [for luxury goods] in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire [for luxury goods] is a very great evil.", then I'm OK with it. Otherwise I disagree with the great Buddha. Desire, by itself, is NOT a bad thing. I desire food, shelter, world peace, and my wife. I desire a warm bed and a laughing family. I dare the Buddha to tell me these things are bad.

Those things aren't bad, but desire for them leads to attachment. Attachment leads to unhappiness because everything is impermanent. So the Buddha's point is, you can enjoy all of those things in this moment, but to desire them, to become attached to them, puts your happiness in having them.

Or, to put it another way: if you ended up homeless, would you lose your capacity for happiness? If your wife leaves you, clearly you would be depressed/angry/upset, but would it prevent you from finding joy and fulfillment in your life? World peace has not been achieved, so are you incapable of living a full life without it?

I suspect that your definition of desire and the Buddha's are different, but his point is that desire leads to attachment which leads to pain. It's kind of like Gandhi's famous phrase, "Your thoughts become words, and your words become actions." It's the chain effect, not the individual link in the chain, that is the problem.
Well said.

The other thing to remember about Buddha quotes is that he* is a little bit like MMM, in the sense that he's not above a little hyperbole to get his point across. There's a Buddhist concept called upaya that focuses on whether a particular teaching is useful, whether or not it is entirely true in the strictest sense. Often a phrase or passage that is over-simplified or exaggerated can help a beginner to advance their understanding, even though it would be seen as deeply flawed by someone more advanced.

[*Ignoring for the moment the questions of historicity and/or mis-attribution]

dragoncar

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2014, 06:40:21 PM »

Those things aren't bad, but desire for them leads to attachment. Attachment leads to unhappiness

... Which leads to the dark side?

This_Is_My_Username

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2014, 06:56:06 PM »
If we slightly modify the Buddha quote to: "Desire [for luxury goods] is poverty. Desire [for luxury goods] is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire [for luxury goods] in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire [for luxury goods] is a very great evil.", then I'm OK with it. Otherwise I disagree with the great Buddha. Desire, by itself, is NOT a bad thing. I desire food, shelter, world peace, and my wife. I desire a warm bed and a laughing family. I dare the Buddha to tell me these things are bad.

Those things aren't bad, but desire for them leads to attachment. Attachment leads to unhappiness because everything is impermanent. So the Buddha's point is, you can enjoy all of those things in this moment, but to desire them, to become attached to them, puts your happiness in having them.

Or, to put it another way: if you ended up homeless, would you lose your capacity for happiness? If your wife leaves you, clearly you would be depressed/angry/upset, but would it prevent you from finding joy and fulfillment in your life? World peace has not been achieved, so are you incapable of living a full life without it?

I suspect that your definition of desire and the Buddha's are different, but his point is that desire leads to attachment which leads to pain. It's kind of like Gandhi's famous phrase, "Your thoughts become words, and your words become actions." It's the chain effect, not the individual link in the chain, that is the problem.

great post  gildedbutterfly

sheepstache

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2014, 08:29:38 PM »
If we slightly modify the Buddha quote to: "Desire [for luxury goods] is poverty. Desire [for luxury goods] is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire [for luxury goods] in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire [for luxury goods] is a very great evil.", then I'm OK with it. Otherwise I disagree with the great Buddha. Desire, by itself, is NOT a bad thing. I desire food, shelter, world peace, and my wife. I desire a warm bed and a laughing family. I dare the Buddha to tell me these things are bad.

There's no way I'm going to love my neighbor as myself.  My neighbor's a huge asshole.  I dare that Jesus guy to tell me I'm wrong.

gildedbutterfly

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2014, 10:39:37 PM »

Those things aren't bad, but desire for them leads to attachment. Attachment leads to unhappiness

... Which leads to the dark side?

Yep! I'll be hanging out in the Ewok village with Leia, far away from the dark side. But feel free to Anakin the sh** out of desire and attachment, if you want. ;)

great post  gildedbutterfly

Well said.

Thanks! Technically, I'm Jain, not Buddhist, but I know a lot about Buddhism and the Shakyamuni Buddha (born into a Methodist-Mahayana household and later converted to Jainism). Anyway, I'm guessing there are quite a few Buddhist Mustachians on here. From non-attachment to interbeing, they just seem to go so well together. Dcheesi, based on your understanding of upaya, I'm guessing you're one?

In other news, sorry to have gotten us light years off topic!

prudent_one

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2014, 05:18:22 AM »
If I was many years younger, and had less of a conscience, I would start some type of business that sells costly things or services to wealthy people who are conspicuous consumers. From time to time I have to associate with people like that, and they sure love to spend on things to impress others. They would rather have a $500 item plastered with a high-end brand name than a $50 item of better quality without prominent branding.

The Zennonite

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2014, 06:30:03 AM »
I'm certainly no student of Pali or Sanskrit, but my understanding is that the word I used which has been translated as "desire" is probably closer to "craving" or "having greed for." There's clearly a difference between a healthy enjoyment of things (family, good food, a well-maintained bicycle) and a craving or attachment to things that leads you to go into debt or sell yourself to obtain them. I think Hermes and other luxury brands depend on inspiring greed and craving.
 
And the Buddha gets misquoted and mistranslated all the time.

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." - (not actually said by) the Buddha

"Hey, I never said that." -the Buddha

Dr. A

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2014, 06:49:39 AM »
... Which leads to the dark side?

Glad I'm not the only one that read that in Yoda's voice.

tmac

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2014, 07:31:37 AM »
I hated working in advertising because it was ALL about creating desire. My two biggest accounts were:

Super high-end furniture, where the strategy was to make sure people believed that expensive furniture was the true way to happiness and self-expression. How will people ever know how awesome you are if you don't show them through your coffee table choices?

Cigarettes, where the strategy was to make people feel like they belonged to an oppressed minority, and to give them a safe haven. "Only WE understand you. You don't want to be disloyal, do you?"

Worst years of my life.

gildedbutterfly

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2014, 09:42:37 AM »
I'm certainly no student of Pali or Sanskrit, but my understanding is that the word I used which has been translated as "desire" is probably closer to "craving" or "having greed for." There's clearly a difference between a healthy enjoyment of things (family, good food, a well-maintained bicycle) and a craving or attachment to things that leads you to go into debt or sell yourself to obtain them. I think Hermes and other luxury brands depend on inspiring greed and craving.

Technically, it's a grey area as far as translation goes. However, in Buddhism there is no real difference made between desire and craving. The point is that if you desire/crave/have greed for something, it means that you do not have it in this moment. Focusing on anything other than this moment is the problem.

For example, if you are sitting in your cubicle and thinking about how great it would be to be sitting on your front porch drinking beer instead, you have just created the desire/craving/greed to be sitting on your front porch drinking beer. But, according to Buddhism, this is a problem because it does not allow you to be satisfied where you are in this moment, and therefore creates dissatisfaction/unhappiness. Instead, the idea is to live a life where you are continually in this moment and not thinking about or desiring/craving anything from the future or past.

dcheesi

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2014, 09:53:00 AM »

Those things aren't bad, but desire for them leads to attachment. Attachment leads to unhappiness

... Which leads to the dark side?

Yep! I'll be hanging out in the Ewok village with Leia, far away from the dark side. But feel free to Anakin the sh** out of desire and attachment, if you want. ;)

great post  gildedbutterfly

Well said.

Thanks! Technically, I'm Jain, not Buddhist, but I know a lot about Buddhism and the Shakyamuni Buddha (born into a Methodist-Mahayana household and later converted to Jainism). Anyway, I'm guessing there are quite a few Buddhist Mustachians on here. From non-attachment to interbeing, they just seem to go so well together. Dcheesi, based on your understanding of upaya, I'm guessing you're one?

In other news, sorry to have gotten us light years off topic!
Eh, more of a dabbler, really. I'm currently on a Stoicism kick, which is surprisingly compatible with Buddhist thought in many respects, but distinctly different in others.

Malaysia41

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2014, 10:05:12 AM »
If we slightly modify the Buddha quote to: "Desire [for luxury goods] is poverty. Desire [for luxury goods] is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire [for luxury goods] in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire [for luxury goods] is a very great evil.", then I'm OK with it. Otherwise I disagree with the great Buddha. Desire, by itself, is NOT a bad thing. I desire food, shelter, world peace, and my wife. I desire a warm bed and a laughing family. I dare the Buddha to tell me these things are bad.

There's no way I'm going to love my neighbor as myself.  My neighbor's a huge asshole.  I dare that Jesus guy to tell me I'm wrong.

Sheepstache - a path to consider here is to pray for your neighbor's health, happiness and prosperity. 

In our household, saying that we are praying for someone's health, happiness and prosperity is code for, "what a major asshole!"


sheepstache

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2014, 10:46:09 AM »
If we slightly modify the Buddha quote to: "Desire [for luxury goods] is poverty. Desire [for luxury goods] is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire [for luxury goods] in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire [for luxury goods] is a very great evil.", then I'm OK with it. Otherwise I disagree with the great Buddha. Desire, by itself, is NOT a bad thing. I desire food, shelter, world peace, and my wife. I desire a warm bed and a laughing family. I dare the Buddha to tell me these things are bad.

There's no way I'm going to love my neighbor as myself.  My neighbor's a huge asshole.  I dare that Jesus guy to tell me I'm wrong.

Sheepstache - a path to consider here is to pray for your neighbor's health, happiness and prosperity. 

In our household, saying that we are praying for someone's health, happiness and prosperity is code for, "what a major asshole!"

Ha, good trick.  Like the Texan expression, "Bless their heart!"  All of my neighbors are nice though, it was actually just a commentary on understanding religions.  My extremely amateur understanding of Buddhism is that it does teach that even what we consider healthy desires, like family etc., lead to suffering.  Holy people within that and related religions try to avoid desire, though regular people take a more moderate path, e.g., avoid desiring Hermes scarves.  Likewise the Christian idea of loving your neighbor as yourself sounds a bit-fetched in practice, but it's serious about it and most regular people in the Christian religion view it as a principle that guides them, not as something that's wrong just because you might have a jerk neighbor.

chesebert

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2014, 11:20:38 AM »
The cover of the current Forbes magazine (September 8, 2014) quotes Hermes CEO Axel Dumas stating: "Our business is about creating desire." Props for honesty, I guess.

By contrast, the Buddha taught that desire is the cause of suffering. "Desire is poverty. Desire is the greatest impurity of the mind. Desire in the mind is the real impurity. Even a spark of desire is a very great evil."

I don't see anything inherently wrong with the CEO of a company making efforts to gain more customers and return greater value to company's shareholders. I say keep on creating desire and enrich the shareholders.

prudent_one

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2014, 10:07:08 AM »
After reading the Forbes article I was impressed by how Hermes has cultured a following for beyond-luxury goods.

Probably my favorite tidbit was how they intentionally carry only a subset of Hermes items in each store and on their website. So if someone sees a $16,000 briefcase in a Hermes store, they can't think "Oh, I like that. Maybe I'll pick one up when I get back to NYC." It could be the only store that has that particular item, and of course that drives impulse buying.

hybrid

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2014, 02:10:52 PM »
I'm certainly no student of Pali or Sanskrit, but my understanding is that the word I used which has been translated as "desire" is probably closer to "craving" or "having greed for." There's clearly a difference between a healthy enjoyment of things (family, good food, a well-maintained bicycle) and a craving or attachment to things that leads you to go into debt or sell yourself to obtain them. I think Hermes and other luxury brands depend on inspiring greed and craving.
 
And the Buddha gets misquoted and mistranslated all the time.

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." - (not actually said by) the Buddha

"Hey, I never said that." -the Buddha

Yeah, I was wondering when someone would quite rightly point out the Buddha never said a single word in English, and translation is a tricky thing.

mjs111

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2014, 02:26:45 PM »
As an added anti-mustachian/anti-environment angle, high end luxury good manufacturers like Hermes destroy unsold merchandise  rather than let it fall into the hands of a TJMaxx or Ross, "tainting" the brand image.


Mike

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Re: "Our business is about creating desire"
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2014, 03:14:42 PM »
Yeah I don't see anything wrong with that. I'm an importer and this reminds me of someone that when asking for a price of a product, I quoted him $2 and he said, "They sell this in China for $1," and I'm thinking, "No shit, you have to buy ___ pieces to get that price, then have it shipped from China to here, pay customs, duty, freight, agent fees, and a few more things, and then you do realize that we need to sell it at a profit..."