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Not Wanting

Not Wanting

Buddhist teachings tell us that wanting is more of a problem than not having and ‘not wanting’ is the key to happiness. That is one of the most important points in learning to calm the heart. If you don’t want what you can’t have (at least, not today) you can find a way to be content, to have a  peaceful heart.


  1. 心定神宁、
  2. 神宁心安、
  3. 心安清静、
  4. 清静无物、
  5. 无物气行、
  6. 气行绝象、
  7. 绝象觉明、
  8. 觉明则神气相通,万象归根。

The Eight Requirements for practice are:

  1. When the heart is calm, the spirit is tranquil,
  2. When the spirit is tranquil, the heart is set at ease,
  3. When the heart is set at ease, it is full and still,
  4. When there is fullness and stillness, there are no disturbances,
  5. When there are no disturbances, the breath can circulate,
  6. When the breath can circulate, one can disregard appearances,
  7. When one disregards appearances, one discovers clear understanding
  8. When one discovers clear understanding, then the spirit and the breath will be joined together, and ten thousand things will return to their root.

Not wanting

By letting go of unnecessary or unattainable (for today) wants, we free ourselves of the burden of wanting. It becomes possible to filter whatever we are presented with by what we can have, what we want, and to let go of wanting in favor of having.

I have learned how to do this. It took me about 10 years. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. I’m still working on it.

We have to start with what does it mean … “not wanting”?

As humans, we think of things we don’t have, situations, people, anything really — someone we wish to be, a level of education or refinement or proficiency or ability. These are our aspirations, our dreams. Who we wish to become. The person we would like to be. The house we would like to have. Or the car. Or that dream vacation. A best seller. These and more are things we may want. We are all different, so what we want is different.

But wanting is the same.

At first, when I tried to learn this concept, I couldn’t reconcile ‘not wanting’ with the idea of advancement, of wanting a better life, more understanding, to expand who I am. I wanted to be better. I wanted more. And no, I wasn’t going to give that up for some vague notion of ‘not wanting.’

As I wrestled with this ghost, I found that indeed, my ‘wanting’ was getting in the way of my ‘having.’ I could want things, situations that I didn’t have or I could have what was in front of me. Always wanting means never having.

Once I came to understand that concept, the idea of ‘not wanting’ became clear. It wasn’t a nihilistic view that ‘no you can never have what you want’ it was instead a pointer to help focus the mind, the spirit, and the energy on what is now and what is within reach. Perhaps I may not have this now. Perhaps I may not have that today. So today, I will be content with what I have and look for how I can change, what I can change, so that what I may want is not out of reach.

If I spend all my time wanting what I don’t have, I have nothing.

If I spend my time enjoying what I have (and working towards what I may want), I have everything and want for nothing.

Option 2 please.

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