+2 votes
by (160 points)
I’m very confused on the concept of being without desire. I’m afraid if I ever achieve it I will simply do nothing all day. If I have no wants why would I ever do anything? How do I know the difference between a desire I need to let go of or just an activity I enjoy? I’m always taught in school to have goals and try to achieve them, but I realise these things aren’t important and don’t guarantee happiness. I simply don’t understand what I should be doing with my time, what will guarantee fulfilment? If I eliminate all desires how would I live my life?

2 Answers

0 votes
by (2.1k points)
I have a similar issue myself.

Like for example I have(had) a very strong attachment to cleanliness, while trying to work on my desire for "perfection" in this impermanent world I found myself having little effort to clean because I am content with being in an unkempt environment. Where as before this would be a daily focal point of my life.

Similar to material wealth, I have no desire for it so find myself having no motivation to work for better social status.

The only answer I have found is to do these things for the motivation of helping others, but this may border on a mahyana view, which is where my knowledge of dharma comes from, and such practices are not really to be discussed here.

Sorry if I am not much use but just wanted to add that you are not alone in this conundrum.
0 votes
by (18.8k points)
You realize that when you get rid of desire(craving), you will never feel afraid or unhappy?

In Buddhism you have the lifestyle of a layman and you have the lifestyle of a monk. Lay people are basically expected to keep to the five precepts. They are not expected to give up family life, jobs, worldly education etc. Conflicts arise when you try to mix up the two lifestyles.

The Buddha himself usually did not teach advanced Dhamma to lay people because generally lay people lack the mental maturity and sharpness to grasp it and that would lead to confusion.

For example, an ordinary lay person might think, "I must study, get a job, get married, have high ambitions because that is what people do in society or that is what other people expect from me". If you tell to such a person that craving leads to suffering, most likely he would get confused.

But a person with a sharper mind might think "what's the end purpose of all these things people do? Is it to gain happiness? Is that happiness sustainable? Why am I looking for happiness in the first place? Is it because I'm unsatisfied? Is there a cause to that dissatisfaction? Is there a state devoid of that dissatisfaction? What is the way to reach it?".
If you tell to such a person that craving leads to suffering, he would have a higher potential to grasp it and he would be able to mitigate the suffering even if he chooses to live as a layman.

The beings who have eliminated craving completely don't just sit around doing nothing all day. They do chores required to maintain the body like eating, washing etc. They also preach the Dhamma to people. They are never afraid, never worried, never bored, never dissatisfied.
Welcome to Sirimangalo Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community.