Why desire to stop desiring? It is not that you have to stop desiring entirely, but that you do not to take those desires so seriously (i.e. attachment to the desires). Attachment to desires cause suffering…it is not desire itself that causes suffering. It is a craving and that you just are not happy until you get what you desire.
It is like when you are playing a game – say Monopoly. When you are playing Monopoly very seriously and feel you must win…you put yourself through all sorts of suffering when things do not go your way. Someone beats you to the last property you need and then refuses to sell regardless of how much is offered. This may cause you to feel frustrated, mad, or otherwise unhappy with the game or player. As it is not going your way, you may cease enjoying to play the game…if you are taking the game too seriously.
However, you can play with the desire/intention to win…but at the same time not really care if you lose either. You are just playing for the fun of it. You are playing sincerely…but not seriously. You intend and desire to win (playing sincerely), but if it is not going your way…you can still enjoy the game. You don’t have to win (not overly serious about the game). The fun is in playing the game…a challenging game in which you may lose.
Suffering is the key. Does it cause suffering? If it does cause suffering, you look at it and investigate – what is the source of this? Through understanding you may realize what you are doing to yourself. You may cease doing it to yourself. For suffering is something we do to ourselves…unwittingly. We usually don’t create unpleasantness for ourselves on purpose.
As you might know, I work as a corporate recruiter for a company. I have been working as a recruiter for over 15 years and desired to become a Recruiting Manager. I thought it would be fun to manage a small team of recruiters and determine how recruiting would be conducted (as a process/practice) at a company. This desire arose and I started working towards it.
I have never been a Recruiting Manager and unfortunately many companies only want to hire people into jobs when they have already done them before. So it was not easy. I applied to many Recruiting Manager jobs and interviewed for a few of them. I even tried to get promoted in the company I work for but they too only hire Recruiting Managers who have managed teams of recruiters already. After two years of trying to get into the role and improving my skills (as I was able), I still was unable to be hired into a Recruiting Manager role or be promoted.
Although the desire was there and I did what I could to get what was desired (sincere effort), I was not attached to the goal/desire. So after two years, I was not suffering because of it…I was not unhappy or discontent. I am still just as content in my current role.
Now due to timing, my desires have changed. I plan on moving to the Tampa, Florida area…not this summer, but the following summer (2019). With only about a year and a half left before moving, it would not be worth leaving my current role (which I work from home). Instead, I plan on keeping my current role and moving to Florida and work from my new home there.
Perhaps some time after I move to Florida, I might get a chance to become a Recruiting Manager…but now is not the time. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). If I was attached…and therefore demanding in getting my desire, I would not be able to wait. If I was attached to the desire, I would not really be happy as long as I was not a Recruiting Manager. Instead, I am perfectly happy and content not working as a Recruiting Manager.
This is the difference between sincerity and seriousness. Instead of working for something (which is too serious), how about playing with/for something? I was playing at trying to get hired or promoted as a Recruiting Manager. Like many games, we don’t always win or the game lasts longer than we thought. I paused or perhaps ended my play…time will tell if I play at attempting it again.
The difference between sincerity and seriousness is really the same difference between play and work. Work is something we do that is not fun, but needed to make money and earn a living. Contrarily, we dream of taking vacations and playing. Work is done for a purpose, goal, etc., but play is simply done for the fun of it. All of life can be play.
When you are commuting to work in the morning, this is a chore that causes people a lot of aggravation and suffering. Instead, you could be playing at commuting to work. The commute could be a time to play. Navigating various turns and exit lanes. Keeping the ride smooth. It could be play…if looking from the right point of view.
Desire is not a problem. The issue is do you see a problem if you don’t get what you desire? Can you desire something and sincerely make efforts to achieve it, but not become attached to it so it becomes serious or work? Can you desire without suffering…unhappiness…discontent?