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What does 煩悩は使えば使うほど増えていく mean?

My understanding is "The more we give in to our earthly desires, the more they increase."

However, I'm confused by the use of the verb 使う. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you!

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「煩悩{ぼんのう}は使{つか}えば使うほど増{ふ}えていく」

While "earthly desires" seems to be a common translation of 「煩悩」, it can also justifiably translated to "negative/destructive emotions".

Then, by using "apply" or "employ" for 「使う」 instead of "to give in to", the phrase in question could easily be translated.

In fact, "to give in to" is not even what 「使う」 can mean all by itself. Rather, "to give in to" was selected forcibly to go well with "earthly desires", IMHO.

"As for negative emotions, the more one applies, the more they increase."

  • Yes 「使う」does not mean give in to, it was just my thoughts on the possible meaning of the collocation as a whole. A search of the 煩悩 and 'emotions' has come up with the correct answer, 'klesha'. Thank you. – user29621 Nov 29 at 22:13

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