How To Understand the True Struggle In Life

How To Understand the True Struggle In Life

Life is not easy and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or has never put forth much effort.  

It is my belief that the real struggle in life isn’t against getting ahead or finding success. Our struggle isn’t against the system or against other people.  Our struggle isn’t even against ourselves.  Humanity’s struggle is one against desire; we want more-more money, more recognition, more love, more friends, more promotions, more stuff.  

More, more, more.  If it exists, then we want it.  

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Desire is the root cause of all evil

The Buddha

Some would argue that this quote is better translated as “craving is the root of all suffering” which says what I believe to be the essence of the statement.  The undisciplined mind will focus on that which it does not possess and will crave those things leaving us wanting.  And it is this disconnect and discontent that creates in us feelings of inadequacy. Buddha realized this and warned us to put off craving for material possessions.

I believe Jesus had a similar belief in the struggle against desire and human nature.

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Image depicting what Jesus would most likely have looked like based on anthropological data.  Stark contrast to the European blond hair, blue eyed depiction.

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

Jesus of Nazareth

Whereas Buddha was referencing more the struggle here on Earth, Jesus was taking the concept one step further when he begins to speak of the spiritual nature of life. Nonetheless, there is still a clear statement that perfection or contentment comes when human beings realize that separation from the desire to possess is necessary.

Do you realize this essential principle?  Do you understand that 100% of your struggles relate to your desire to possess things which you don’t currently have?   Do you recognize this truth and are you willing to separate from craving in order to become content with the person you are right now?  Are you willing to accept yourself with all of your flaws and deficiencies?

It is my belief that until each person comes to terms with desire and craving that he/she will never be truly content.  

Desire will always be man’s downfall.  


78 thoughts on “How To Understand the True Struggle In Life

  1. A hard truth to accept in this generation. It is driven by materialism, the world craves more technology, more food, more weapons etc. To look at it another way…the more we humans want, the more the earth suffers. I enjoyed your post and it made me think.

  2. I love this blog post. You know how you can hear things, study, etc for years possibly, then one day you read something and say, “Yes. That’s it. Perfect.” That’s how I felt about your post. And loved the depiction of a more realistic Jesus look.
    I reblogged on

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom in the ways of the dharma.
    It’s just what I needed today (and everyday 🙂 ). And I came to it through a glitch. All things for a reason, I think.

    Lately there has been desire, clinging, not satisfied with my life, thinking I wanted something, getting it, then realizing that it did not make me happier after all, just fed a passing desire.


  3. As a Buddhist I wish I had the time right now to explain what I know according to the Buddha’s teachings, but I don’t. I will try to get back to this. But I will say this – because of people’s basic lack of understanding of Buddhism they picture the monk on the top of the mountain ridding himself of anything that can temp him into desire. Take everything away, give everything away then you could want for nothing and that will lead to happiness – but it won’t – anymore than removing heroin or the possibility of getting it, would make him not an addict. An addict is always an addict like an alcoholic is always an alcoholic. And we are human with desires.The ability to be among the world and not OD on your desires depends on whether or not you have the knowledge and the means to change the essential part of you that is your human nature. How do you stop yourself from reacting to the world in ways you have always reacted to it? How often do you tell yourself you will not eat a particular food and then have to have it, or how many times have you started a work out routine and couldn’t last 30 days? It is the same as a new relationship when boy meets girl and both put on faces to make the other person like them yet settles into who they really are when they are comfortable and the other says, “You’ve changed.” They haven’t. They have just stopped trying to impress.

    Desire is the root of all evil? That is a misinterpretation coming from a sect of Buddhism that refused to listen to the Buddha’s last lesson when he said, “Disregard all I have taught you up til now. It was to prepare you for what I am about to tell you now.” And that was the law of life. birth, aging, sickness and death and the uninterrupted cycle forever turning. It is the lessons you didn’t learn yet and have to repeat. You cannot get rid of desire. Desire is part of life. What we have here is a nice phrase and people say, oh I needed to read this, yet it changed nothing and is forgotten tomorrow – because the basic human nature hasn’t changed. That learning process takes much much longer than just reading about it. Most people will never put the effort into it changing and will end up saying, “It is just the way I am”

      1. I don’t think your comment was too long. I enjoy reading different thoughts and views. It helps me better form my thoughts and opinions. 🙂

      2. I found some comments that slipped through the cracks. I’ve caring for my mother after a stroke. I’ve always talked a lot. The only person who can out talk me is my mother. We get together and talk for HOURS and never run out of things to say. Although the stroke did affect her voice she is getting it back and making up for lost time. For me, blogging is a way to meet new people. If I find a blog and the most interesting thing anyone can say is “nice blog” and “thanks” and can wrap ten more comments around it, it’s my cue to stay away. I like supporting people’s blogs- if they have something to say I can talk to them about.

  4. Oh dear, I seem to have stumbled into a bit of controversy at this point in the comment thread. It seems the previous commenter took issue with the point you were making. I’m not qualified to say what message the Buddha intended to give since I don’t know enough about the subject. Personally, I found the post interesting and thought-provoking, although I think I may only partially agree with it.

    I guess in part it depends what we take the word “desire” to cover. I’m not sure whether a life completely without desire would suit me. Wouldn’t it also take my hopes, aims, aspirations and ambitions with it? Many of my “desires” of this kind are not only for myself but also for my society, my species and my planet. (It’d be great to finally get to grips with global warming, for example.)

    On the other hand, if “desire” means an empty pursuit of “stuff” (big houses, fancy cars, diamond rings, 20,000 WordPress followers), then I absolutely agree that yearning desperately for them doesn’t seem very likely to bring long-term contentment.

    Anyway, I found the post a fascinating and provocative one (in the best sense). It got me thinking about the subject, which I guess is the most we can ask of any piece of writing. 😀

    1. I appreciate you leaving your thoughts. In this post I refer to desire as wanting material possessions. And as far as the previous commenter disagreeing, it is ok. We are not all going to agree all the time. 😀

      1. From your reply, I get the slight feeling you suspect I didn’t actually read the post but only skimmed it. I can’t claim hand on heart to always read every WordPress post as carefully as I should, but I was interested in yours, so I did make a genuine effort to understand it.

        I did notice the part about the Buddha warning us not to crave material possessions, but there was also an earlier line about humanity wanting “more money, more recognition, more love, more friends, more promotions, more stuff,” which seemed to suggest a craving for non-material things too. That’s why I wasn’t entirely sure what “desire” covered.

        Anyway, off to get something to eat.

      2. No probs. I have the same problem sometimes. By nature, I’m a gently humorous person, but sometimes my words can sound rather harsher than I intend. 🙂

      3. It happens to me often. Sometimes I get focused on responding to the comments and type exactly what I am thinking and it comes out much different than intended. 😃😃

    2. Very well put Bun. Hurrah for a passion for causes such as saving mother earth! Buddhism often refers to sense desires. And you always have to toss in a good dose of impermanence.

    3. I agree with you about what you say about desire. Who draws the line about what desire is okay and which one aren’t – and it is probably different for all people. It isn’t practical for mankind to separate himself from people and find an enclave of like minded people who attempt to rid them from all desires and live in a way that they are not tempted to desire. That is not reality. Most of make many mistakes until we learn the wisdom it teaches us about why that particular desire is detrimental to living. Some people CAN learn from it and some can’t and sometimes that desires kills them or destroys their potential to have a life of value.

      I didn’t go back re-read the post but it seems to me you are on the right track. Without the desire for happiness and peace in our our life and environment than what is the point of caring how anyone exists? I think it would be a selfish existence based only on self-gratification. That is a pretty sad existence.

    4. Because of the high percentage of people in the US who think they are Christians ( and there is a reason why I say “think”) there are many who really have no concept of what the Buddha taught and when and why. And like Christianity they are are many sects of Buddhism depending on the part of the world you live in. My study of Buddhism has so far spanned almost 30 years – because I found Christianity to have many of the same concepts but with little answer to the question why. It has mostly laws to follow – like the ten commandments – but doesn’t tell you why? Ironically Buddhism has almost the same commandments – but 1000 years earlier – so where did Moses REALLY get them? For example – honor thy mother and father . . .why? Treat people the way you want to be treated ( I know, golden rule) – but why? What will happen to you if you don’t?

      But really one of the points I picked up from an earlier post is that the Buddha was teaching about was good for the here and now but Jesus took it one step farther? I’d really be interested in what you think that one step farther is. Please, trust me, this isn’t an argument. What people believe to be true for the most part is based on what they were taught by family or as a community and kids usually believe what they are told. It is how, for instance, the concept of racism is passed from one generation to another by what they hear the adults in the environment talk about because kids aren’t born racist. They learn it and such is religion. Some people do honestly study to determine on their own what they believe to be the truth and that is the right each of us have. It turns bad when one religion tries to be dominant and force others to live under the laws and concepts of their religion – which is what are going through now.

      The only part of “NOW” Buddhism is concerned with are the causes you make in this particular moment in your life because the law of cause and effect – or, you reap what you sow, dictates there is an effect to what we do, think and say that causes our life to go into different directions. If you want to know what causes you made in the past you need only look at your life today and it would tell you. So today, if you make the right causes, that will be your life later. You bring into your life exactly what you deserve – good and bad. You can’t escape it just like you can’t escape the law of gravity. It is interesting when you study your own human nature – see what you like about yourself and what you don’t and find out what happens ( it’s a process) when you try to change the parts you don’t like. People fail miserably at that on all levels and end up saying, “that’s just the way I am” or ” I like being fat” because they can’t lose weight,”or “I tried, but I can’t quit smoking” etc etc on down to the smallest parts of our nature. It is because they try to change things by manipulating the outside and don’t have a clue what it takes to actually change a part of your life you were born with. The Buddha’s desire was for people to learn the law of life – birth, aging sickness and death and then birth etc. All of life is on this cycle and why would human life be different. We die and go up to heaven to live in a mansion and be with God forever and ever and ever? That sounds like hell to me. Eternity is a long time with no mountains to climb or problems to solve or grow as people through educating ourselves because what would need that for in heaven?

      Before I go – to clarify my first line – for the amount of people who claim to be Christian – yet don’t actually practice Christianity, there is a huge gap. For most people that I have asked, they are Christians because they don’t know anything else to be and mostly hope heaven is really going to be there when they die, but they don’t put the teachings into play in their lives. Your faith should enable you to be happy. I know that doesn’t apply to all because I know people who are very sincere in their faith. If they are happy and believe their faith helps them change the things in their life that need changing and they are happy with the person they grew to be, I can’t argue with that. There is more than one way to be happy. But if they are unhappy and their faith isn’t enabling them to change that, then there is something wrong with what they believe to be the right thing to believe in. If they think they have to die to be happy that is really a strange concept. But you have to have a seeking spirit to want to learn to open your mind that maybe there is another way to think. This is a subject I talk to people about almost on a daily basis. I know it is a long answer and I hope at least part of it made sense to you. Have a great day!

      1. I am still sure it would have worked out, but not being on the same continent, his family and friends succeeded in making him dump me a few months before walking down the aisle… Complicated story, as they often are 😉

      2. It is part of who I am now… It was a rough moment to go through, to say the least, but I wouldn’t change it now that I came at peace with it 🙂

  5. I’m short on time but this is too great a post to pass by. I believe Buddah and Jesus spoke to the same things very similarly. The rich young man asked Jesus what more he could do to be happy (righteous) than obey the law as he did faithfully. Jesus saw right into his misery. The man left sad, not because he could inherit heaven, but because his possessions possessed him. I live with a borderline hoarder. I dearly want to help her see the madness, the burden – as she brings in more and more stuff! If we are out of balance in any area of life, desire can easily consume us. Great post, Danny!

  6. This is why Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him. And why we are to die to self daily. Self is no more than our flesh.
    We want what we want when we want it.
    Also our belief system may be distorted based on these desires and wants.
    We have to be careful because it gets bad when our wants become demands.

  7. I never understood the need to have the latest and greatest. When I hear the price of the latest iphone it makes me cringe. Who would spend that much money especially if they have one already that works perfectly well? I always think of all the things I could spend that money on that are far more practical.

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