Prometheus wrote:I understand that theoretically if one could completely cease experiencing desire and aversion, one would also cease to experience suffering. However, if one completely eliminated desire, how could one strive for meaningful goals? If no one desired anything, why would anyone create great works of art? If one had no desire for food, why would one eat? If one had no desire to live, why would one bother to do the daily rituals that are necessary in order to stay alive? If one truly had no desire at all, why would anyone do anything at all except lie there in peaceful tranquility and wait for death?
This subject has been discussed at some length from different angles, Prometheus. You'll have some fun searching for them here if you have patience and your interest genuine.
But underscoring your question are some common misunderstandings of the path and the goal.
My interest is genuine, long-standing, and as of today when I decided to write a paper for philosophy class on this topic, somewhat urgent. However, as a busy student taking five courses this semester, my time is limited unfortunately. Do you happen to remember any particular threads where this has been discussed in the past? Can you think of any particular key words that I should search for? I tried a few different likely word combos and didn't find anything relevant....
My intuitive guess is that the cessation of tanha means the cessation of craving and attachment, but not
the cessation of desire altogether in the broadest sense of the word. Perhaps tanha means that when you desire something, you feel a craving for it; when you don't get it, you feel unhappy; when you do get it and you inevitably lose it again, you feel unhappy. Perhaps what is left once you let go of tanha is the cognitive belief that certain goals are worth striving towards, which is enough to guide your conduct. Does that make sense, and is it at all on the right track?
More broadly, I suppose my question is this: The human being is motivated to act and to act in certain ways by desire and aversion, i.e. pain and pleasure. If the Buddhist lets go of desire and aversion, what motivates them? Compassion alone?