Can you explain to me (or point to resources that explain to me) a couple of apparent metacontradictions in Buddhism?
I've been reading a book
about a Buddhist approach to trouble lately, to satisfy curiosity and to mine for stuff that is useful.
So far, I see a lot of value in labeling thoughts and being aware of what you're doing. However, there's two concepts that sound OK in isolation but give me trouble when I think about it in the context of human nature:
1. You should accept every moment and occurrence and not desire to be in other situations.
2. Desire leads to samsara, therefore you should strive for the elimination of desire.
What I don't understand about the first idea is: I imagine a lot of people adopt Buddhism in part to find greater peace and to feel less troubled. Accepting and embracing bad situations and feelings is presented as a way that will end up alleviating those bad feelings in the book. There is truth to this; I've experienced it myself. Given that humans do things for reasons, can you truly accept a situation without some desire or outcome (e.g. greater peace) in mind, even if it is in the back of your mind?
My difficulty with the second idea is similar in part: If you want to eliminate desire, isn't that in itself a desire? And can anyone do anything without serving one desire or another? If you took this to a logical extreme, you'd stop desiring food and die. Are practicing Buddhists anywhere close to eliminating desire? Even the Dalai Lama clearly has things he wants and does things to try to get them.
I'm not, as you can probably tell, incredibly well-read (I never know where to start) when it comes to Buddhism, so feel free to clear up any gross misconceptions I may have.