Before I started studying Buddhism I had desire for life and desires for more in life. That eventually led me to inevitable and immense suffering and eventually to Buddhism.

Now as I practise Buddhism and as I study sutta and all I understand that rebirth is something we need to avoid by practising dhamma. We have to end this cycle of Life and Death and eventually suffering. Buddhism is a soteriological practise and philosophy which guides us out of samsara. Also lot of Buddhist suttas mention suffering as inherent and innate.

Now this has led me to other end of thought spectrum of aversion towards life. As I learnt and understood 'craving for non existance' is also a craving and should be avoided. But how can one think otherwise. Its either I want life or I dont want life and undertake an arduous journey towards Nirvana. How can one not feel aversion towards life if one desires and practises towards Nirvana.

My question is how do I think or train mind to not have either desire or aversion towards life?

8 Answers 8


Case 57 of the Blue Rock Collection
I alone am holy

A monastic said to Zhaozhou, "It is said, 'The Great Way is not difficult. It only abhors choice and attachment.' Now, what are nonchoice and nonattachment?" Zhaozhou said, "I alone am holy throughout heaven and earth." The monastic said, "It is still choice and attachment." Zhaozhou said, "You country bumpkin! Where are choice and attachment?" The monastic was speechless.

How much better off we'd all be if we discarded love and hate. As it says in the Hsin Hsin Ming, "to set up what you like against what you dislike is," indeed, "the disease of the mind." There is a road the runs the valley between the cliffs of this and that, of right and wrong. It alone is holy throughout heaven and earth. What is the mind that knows no discrimination? Where is it found?

Craving and aversion set the world at arm's length. We can never be fully intimate with the way things really are when we are pushing and pulling on existence. When we do that, we only know our pushing and pulling. Instead, let yourself be pulled, allow yourself to be pushed. Meet both existence and non-existence, samsara and Buddha, enlightenment and non-enlightenment with the same open heart. That alone is true holiness.

  • Quiet deep. Thankyou. Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 14:53

Good householder,

Without life, a good birth, how could, would one practice the path out.

As the lokuttara-depending co-arising counts: birth/stand/life(jati) is condition for Dukkha, Dukkha reason for Saddha (conviction),... liberation.

So "gati, gati, paragati, parasamgati Bodhisvaha", good housholder. Getting better, better, over-good becoming, even-overgood-becoming, Awakening, there.

Or in Pali:

Gati gati pāragati pārasaṁgati bodhi so ahaṁ គតិ គតិ បារគតិ បារសាមគតិ ពោធិ សោ អហំ "(skillful/good) becoming, becoming, higher becoming, higher even becoming, awakening for oneself (Rightly Self-Awakening)"

Good to be clear: Why it important to value Conditions?

[note: not given for trade, exchange, stacks... but to get out of this wheel]


If you have come to Buddhism out of a desire to no longer suffer, that desire itself may lead to more suffering for you, if you do not succeed, for whatever reason.

Buddhism provides ways to end your own suffering, but not by developing an aversion to life, but rather, by training your mind so that you do not crave things you do not have, nor desire things you will not get.

But there is much more to the Buddha’s teachings. His focus was on showing the way to end suffering for all people, thus one does not desire to end one’s own suffering, but rather desires to end the suffering of all sentient beings. It’s still a desire, but one that can be satisfied by working to end the suffering of others.

The Buddha is the epitome of this. He dedicated his life to teaching others how to end suffering, not some philosophy that was distant from our visceral daily lives in this world. His compassion for the suffering of others was total, and unconditional. Think about that.

The Buddha is the perfected manifestation of Buddha nature and is unconditionally compassionate towards all sentient beings. Much as it is said by many religions that God’s love for creation is unconditional. How awesome then, is this life we have gained, that we might work not for our own needs, but for the needs of all those in need of our compassion? Every moment of this life we have presents a precious opportunity to help others, and through that, we end our own suffering.

Lifting water from the well
A liminal vision always comes:
Life, hot and hard,
Fought counter to the ground.

Is this samsara,
Like the Orientals like to say?
Or is it the Word,
God's Logos on display?

Occidentals beseech God:
"Send a postcard our way!"
"Answer our cries for deliverance!"
"Ease the burdens of our days!

But why would God answer
The secret yearnings in our heart?
God gave us a life!
What more should we want?

Samsara is suffering
Wrought by ignorance
So the Buddhists say :
All of This is as it is, yet
We can break free of its sway.

And I in my acceptance
Find a dance within the sway
Dancing a dance of fullness
Each and every day!

Pulling water from the well
A welcome vision now comes
Life, hot and hard
A blessing in every way!

God speaks to us in Lives
Buddha-nature manifests us all
And I in my happy acceptance
Pull water from the well.


'craving for non existance'

That is a craving based on a notion of an existent being that ceases to exist. The verbalization of this craving is; 'I am', there being 'I am' there comes to be 'I exist', there being 'I exist' there comes to be 'I am bad because i exist', there being 'I am bad because i exist' there comes to be 'May I not be bad', there being 'May I not be bad' there comes to be 'May i not exist'.

When one understands that existence of 'a being' can not be pinned down as a truth or reality then the tendency to think in terms of the doctrine of self becomes abandoned and the notions of 'I am' do not take control of his mind.

One realizes that all that arises is dukkha and that dukkha can be grasped with wrong view to be a self or belonging to a self and thus constitute what is called a being and that the clinging to the doctrine of a self begets this dukkha.

One starts to realize that beings are enchanted by dukkha; are intoxicated with youth, are intoxicated with health, are intoxicated with people and things which are dear to them and they are intoxicated with living.

Being intoxicated they are heedless, being heedless they give into wrong pursuits.

Giving into wrong pursuits they are wasting their youth, wasting their health, wasting their posessions and are wasting their lives.

Having wasted these things they are not free from old age, sickness, parting and death.

They are not prepared for old age, they are not prepared for sickness, they are not prepared for parting with what is dear and they are not prepared for death.

Not being prepared they beat their chests and pull their hair, unable to bear, falling on their heads when the path gets rough, they fall from suffering into a greater suffering.

Therefore the disciple of the Noble one's sees this as it actually is and is not wasting his youth, is not wasting his health, is not wasting his posessions and is not wasting his life.

He appreciates life for what it is and makes a good use of it thus making an effort for the attainment of the yet unattained.

He establishes his mind like a fortress, knowing that the heedful do not die and that the heedless are as if already dead.

  • Thank you for the answer. What does "life as it is" mean in this paragraph "He appreciates life for what it is and makes a good use of it "....does it mean appreciate life as dukkha? Sorry if it is a silly question :). Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 15:00
  • 1
    This body comes into being through living, yet it is in dependence on living that it is abandoned. There is the case where a person, lives not considering his life thoughtfully, lives playfully, lives heedlessly and gives in to pursuit of manyfold beauty. When such a heedless person dies he takes up another body. There is a another case where a person lives considering life thoroughly, he is serious and heedful, doesn't give in to lowly pursuits and is intent on highest good. Such person does not take up another body because he appreciates life for what it is [means to an end].
    – user8527
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 15:56
  • 1
    One can say that the present dukkha comes into being because of the past dukkha and that in dependence on the present dukkha the future dukkha can be abandoned.
    – user8527
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 16:01

My question is how do I think or train mind to not have either desire or aversion towards life?

The danger of craving for non-existence is that it is a fatal obsession. Some with this wrong view have committed suicide.

SN54.9:4.2: “Ānanda, why does the mendicant Saṅgha seem so diminished?”

Because of this danger, the Buddha taught mindfulness of breathing and more.

SN54.9:6.3: “Mendicants, when this immersion due to mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated it’s peaceful and sublime, a deliciously pleasant meditation. And it disperses and settles unskillful qualities on the spot whenever they arise.

Craving for existence is like only inhaling. Craving for non-existence is like only exhaling. They both lead to immediate suffering. However, the immersion that attends to the cycle of breathing leads to a balanced and healthy practice.

We also need a practice that supports us in daily life. And here we can practice ethics, starting with:

MN8:12.2: ‘Others will be cruel, but here we will not be cruel.’

Lastly, the emotional suffering of watching desires die and former pleasures turn to dust also has to be addressed to avoid a crash into depression. Here, the brahamaviharas can help. We practice limitless love, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity. These four limitless practices propel us to the formless dimensions and beyond:

SN46.54:12.8: The apex of the heart’s release by love is the beautiful, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.

Notably, the heart's release by love leads to the third liberation.

AN8.66:3.1: They’re focused only on beauty. This is the third liberation.

There are five more liberations. Don't despair!

  • Hi, thankyou for the answer. In this link you provided 》》suttacentral.net/an8.66/en/sujato#an8.66:3.1 《《 》》not perceiving form internally, they see visions externally. This is the second liberation.《《 what do this line means? What is the see visions externally mean? Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 14:48
  • In an unrelated note, I am amazed at your ability to provide exact quotes from the suttas. How do you know so many suttas? Do you practice studying them? You ability to recall them to provide an answer is also amazing. Metta. Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 14:50
  • I wrote scv-bilara, which is a Linux command line tool that searches the EBTs. github.com/sc-voice/scv-bilara Scv-bilara is the search engine for voice.suttacentral.net. Answering questions here from the Sangha teaches me about the suttas as I search. Thank you for all your questions. I have learned a lot. BTW, your question about visions is a great question to post on its own. :D
    – OyaMist
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 17:53

Now this has led me to other end of thought spectrum of aversion towards life. As I learnt and understood 'craving for non existance' is also a craving and should be avoided. But how can one think otherwise.

This is a very common misconception that I see very frequently. Yes it is true that ‘craving for non-existence’ is a form of craving that we wish to be free from. It will generate suffering as well until you reach Nirvana. However, it is very important to remember:

You can not control your desires. I did not choose my preferences. I do not choose what I find enjoyable or uncomfortable. If we could control what we desire, we would all simply desire all experiences, and no one would have any reason to become enlightened, for we would all have decided to be in a state of constant bliss.

The dropping away of craving occurs naturally and automatically after reaching Nirvana. It is not something that can be forced or willed into occurring.

I personally believe that people saw the Buddha desired nothing, and thought it was a good idea to try to emulate his behavior. This paired with his teachings on how desire is the source of suffering brings many to the logical conclusion that they should try to control their desires to end suffering. But remember his teachings on dependent origination do not begin with desire at the head of the chain.

Without a desire to be free from suffering, you will have no motivation to get there! Don’t get rid of your motivation to become enlightened! Billions of people on this earth have no desire for enlightenment. How many of them do you see claiming to now be arahants?

Its either I want life or I dont want life and undertake an arduous journey towards Nirvana. How can one not feel aversion towards life if one desires and practises towards Nirvana.

One can not! You must use your desire to get there! Let that desire motivate you to continue investigating!

Yes, all craving is not satisfying. And yes, if you desire something and don’t get it, suffering is generated. But that is only a small subset of desire! What about the desire to be generous and give to the poor? The desire to take care of your family? The desire to be free of suffering? The desire to eat? Like all things, desire is not inherently good or bad. Do not let suffering ruin the benefits desire provide you on a daily basis! Without desire, you’d be dead and unable to enjoy this miraculous adventure!

My question is how do I think or train mind to not have either desire or aversion towards life?

Do not try. When you reach enlightenment, the process will happen naturally. But remember, true freedom and peace comes from a relinquishing of control, and an acceptance of all experience. Loving your aversion will be more beneficial on your journey than attempting to satisfy it.


OP: My question is how do I think or train mind to not have either desire or aversion towards life?

There are plenty of reasons to not be afflicted by craving, and at the same time maintain happiness in your life.

Here are a few reasons from the Dhammapada:

  1. Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the hostile. Amidst hostile men we dwell free from hatred.

  2. Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the afflicted (by craving). Amidst afflicted men we dwell free from affliction.

  3. Happy indeed we live, free from avarice amidst the avaricious. Amidst the avaricious men we dwell free from avarice.

  4. Happy indeed we live, we who possess nothing. Feeders on joy we shall be, like the Radiant Gods.

Dhammapada 200 refers to piti (rapture) of jhana.


Craving for existence and craving for non existence , both are undesirable. We should see birth, life and death as dependently originated. Dependent Origination is the Dhamma. Dependent on birth comes life. Dependent on attachment comes birth. Dependent on craving comes the attachment. Craving of any kind leads to rebirth. For example craving for food or no food, both are undesirable...so what should be our mindset ... take that what is necessary to keep yourself mindful and alert of Dhamma...same applies to life ...live life to live Dhamma..

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