I'm not satisfied with the situation I'm in currently. I tend to watch senseless TV shows and do other senseless things such as gaming for hours (it's ok to me to game about an hour, but if it takes up too much time, I feel like wasting my time).

I read that some/all buddhists want to be "free of desires". This is what would help me best I guess. Free of the desire to do senseless things and focus on things which are good for my future.

I have no idea where I should start, buddhism is just the first point I could think about, even though I'm totally not into religions (actually an apatheist), it's all I have. I'd really appreciate some book or other reading.

TL;DR: How can I free myself of desires? I'd like to have some interesting reading about it. It shuold be a long-term solution, so my whole mind should change (e.g. through buddhism).

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    I don't think phil.SE is the place to get good self-help advice. From what you've written, you already have the start: learn more about Buddhism, don't watch so much TV or do so much gaming. How to do those or other things...that's for another site.
    – Mitch
    Oct 4, 2011 at 19:32
  • And for which other site? I had no idea where I could ask such a question, and philosphy seemed to fit best to me. Also, note that buddhism is just the only idea I had - there might be other ideas which could be much better than that one.
    – naeg
    Oct 5, 2011 at 6:54
  • You may be interested in this Area51 proposal for a Buddhism StackExchange
    – Joseph Weissman
    Oct 6, 2011 at 22:17
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    Try stoicism, which in some ways draws from Buddhism. But instead of telling you to free yourself of (bad) desires, it tells you to change what you view as being bad itself, such that nothing disturbs you anymore. :-)
    – stoicfury
    Oct 7, 2011 at 4:59

2 Answers 2


There are a large number of good books about Buddhism (and, more to the point of this site, Buddhist philosophy), but you seem to be looking for practical advice-- i.e., putting the teachings into practice-- which leads me to suggest that you visit a Buddhist center of some sort in person. Trying to learn Buddhist practice from a book is something like trying to learn to swim from a book; it may be possible, but it is far from the optimal method.

Note, by the way, that there is something called "the paradox of desire"; in order to be free of desires, you must first have the desire to be free of desires.

Note: if you really want book suggestions, I'll add them, but I really would recommend visiting a center first.

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    as to the paradox, I think you should first have the desire to get rid of desire, then work on the meta-problem.
    – Mitch
    Oct 4, 2011 at 19:33
  • @Mitch: That's the traditional Buddhist response, as well. Oct 4, 2011 at 20:27
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    Once you get to the third level and you realize it's turtles all the way down, you give up and -that's- detached.
    – Mitch
    Oct 4, 2011 at 21:02
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    And also give up trying to have the last word.
    – Mitch
    Oct 4, 2011 at 21:02
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    In that case, I'd start with Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs (amazon.com/Buddhism-Without-Beliefs-Contemporary-Awakening/dp/…) which is a nice theoretical introduction, from an atheist/agnostic perspective. Oct 5, 2011 at 8:04

I would suggest that being "free of desire" should not be the goal. Man is inherently a passionate desiring and driven creature. He functions best when much is demanded from him, is most encouraged when he accomplishes something great, and is most motivated to good action when there is some worthy cause to strive for.

You identify a specific problem in your life in that the things you feel like doing are senseless and generally a waste of time. I would suggest that rather than trying to stifle desire, the correct thing to do is FILL yourself with wholesome desires. Finding an outlet for that utilizes the natural human urges but guides them in a way that is productive and good by some objective standard is more in line with human nature.

In order for this to be effective, the desires you need to nurture are those that benefit someone other than yourself. Selfishness is for humans inherently un-fulfilling. Those who gain everything this world has to offer but only use it for their own pleasure are often those least satisfied by life. Those who are most self-less are most fulfilled by their activities.

The ultimate example of selflessness was exhibited by Jesus Christ. While in right and fact he was God with no possible need, he chose to give up his rights and live a humble life serving the very creatures he created, eventually giving up his life so that others might life.

In addition to healthy satisfying desires needing to be on behalf of others, they also need to be initiated by something outside ourselves. Left to our own measures we life in a shape-shifting world where even the things we want for ourselves are unpredictable whims. Part of Christ's service to men was in offering them a calling: a purpose in life both to benefit others and submit themselves to a predictable standard of right and wrong, good and evil.

Disclaimer: My worldview and thus the premises that lead to this answer are Christian. While you tagged this with I am inserting them here because it sounds like you are looking for a practical solution to a problem and I think this is the most practical answer.

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