Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Is Buddhism only for the very rich and fairly poor?

I've wanted to be a Buddhist for pretty much as long as I've heard of it. The idea of ridding oneself of worldly desires, and the stress and worries that accompany the pursuit of it, really appeals to me.

But as I've become more serious about actual applying this lofty goal to my life, I've come to the realization that it would be pretty much impossible for me to accomplish without completely overhauling the structure of my life. If I completely rid myself of these desires, which is what I am told to do, then what reason would I have for ever going to a basketball practice that I don't want to at the moment, what reason would I have to write a tedious lab manuscript on soil, what reason would I even have to get a job over the summer? These are all things that I have to do in order to maintain a relatively "normal" life by society's standards, in order to pass my classes, have somewhat of a social life, and have enough money to do things like buy food. So, reasonably, there is no way that I can get rid of my desires because if I think it would be nearly impossible for me to have a normal life.

As the title of this post suggests, I think that there are two exceptions to this rule: the very rich, who have enough money to pretty much put every thing on auto pilot and not worry at all, and the fairly poor, who would be able to survive pretty much just on subsistence living and generally do their own thing. But for a normal person that wants to live a normal life in our current society, we have to have desire in order to have ambition, which you have to have in order to do really anything at all.

All of this leads us to the question, is Buddhism still a viable way of living even if you cannot completely follow its tenants? Is it an all or nothing thing, or can you follow most of the basic ideas while still having a little bit of ambition and still consider yourself a Buddhist?