This is hard to do. If we no longer have any desire, can we be sure we are still passionate about life? still wanting to live? The truth is, desires and wishes are the goals motivating us towards achieving them – a university degree, a good job, opening a store – and that’s what makes like fun, lively, and active. Without those wishes, those dreams to follow, life would have been very dull… like dead.
This is our big problem. How to follow our dreams without being drawn into the cycle of suffering, as the Buddha has taught?
Experience has shown that “desire” is not what makes us suffer, but “attachment to desire” is. For example: Loving a woman does not make one suffer. Love is happiness indeed. But if she no longer loves him, still he keeps himself entangled in his love, that means– if he attaches himself to that love, to an extent that he may die of losing her, or may be so enraged that he may commit murder– then that is suffering. But if he gently lets her go, as peaceful as two friends parting, then as sad as he might be, it is not suffering.
It’s like that for almost everything in life. We have a dream and we actively work for it – buying a house, applying for a job, joining the army to serve our country – it is a very positive thing. But if we fail to achieve our goal, though we may be a little disappointed, we still do not rail at fate nor get depressed, then that is not suffering.
The secret is: Set a goal, a dream, and work hard to achieve it. But if you fail, let it go and don’t stress over it. That is desire without attachment, without suffering.
Bodhisattva always wants to save all sentient beings. However, if one can be saved, he will be, if one can’t, then let karma take its course, Bodhisattva stresses not.
There are goals that we strive for but fail to achieve, not really because of their difficulties, but because of karma or God’s will.
This is one thing that many of us cannot comprehend and therefor are stressed over it. We have goals and dreams, and we work hard for them, however if we fail, we stress and consider our efforts wasted.
For example: We plan to ride a motorbike from Nha Trang to Saigon. When we get to Dinh Quan, because of heavy traffic, we cannot continue the trip to Saigon, hence we have to make a detour to Binh Duong. Although we didn’t reach Saigon, we have made our way from Nha Trang to Binh Duong, how can it be waste?
Life is full of changes. We set goal A, we finally fail to achieve A but we gain B, and B is usually even better than A. You got dumped by Hong, so you meet Hoa after that and you are very happy with Hoa.
Oftentimes we set our goals to conquer. God gives us a hand, so he turns the wheel when we almost reach our destination, making us change our path and lose our goals, but helping us obtain other things that we did not expect.
Therefore, it actually doesn’t matter whether you achieve your goal or not. What is important is that we actively move forward with our goals. And even if the wheel is steered in the middle of the way, just go on with the new road and be happy with the new results.
Sometimes God closes one door to open a new one for us. Just enter the new path.
That is desire without suffering.
Hence we should probably say: I am desirous but not greedy.
Wish you all a successful day.
(Huyền Vân translated from Vietnamese)
Original Vietnamese version: