“He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.” — Buddha.
I’ve been thinking about this idea quite a bit lately.
It’s an argument for detachment, the idea that if you let go of your desires, you lessen or eliminate suffering.
How? Well, suffering is partly caused because you want things: love, money, health, iPads.
The idea is that if you don’t desire any of those things, then you won’t suffer if you don’t get them or lose them. This is especially true if you tie your happiness to something that you desire—if you think you’ll be happy if you get that new job, for instance.
When you don’t get that job, you suffer. Or, if you do get the job, you’ll be happy for awhile, but things won’t stay that way for long.
Why? Because the novelty of what you desired will wear off. Or the thing you desired will change. Change is a part of life, and it affects pretty much everything we come in contact with. So, if your happiness depends on something external, something you can’t fully control, when that something changes, your happiness will most likely be affected.
Therefore, say the sages with their long, fluffy beards, you must to find happiness within yourself, be happy with who you are, and not wager your happiness on external desires.
It sounds all good in theory, but in practice it’s difficult. Unfulfilled desires can definitely cause suffering, but removing desires altogether seems like an extreme solution. It’s like saying that to avoid catching athlete’s foot, you should cut off your leg. Sure, you’ll never get athlete’s foot again, but you’ll have lost an important part of yourself.
To be human is to desire, no? To crave, to become elated at attaining something and feel gutted when you don’t. To laugh and cry, become angry and scared, to hope and despair.
What are your thoughts on desires and suffering?