“What are the decisions I would have to make if I did truly seek the cessation of suffering?”
Primarily I would need to dedicate myself to practice. This would mean no longer working full-time to support my family and sitting long-term retreat. It might result in cessation of suffering for me (who?) but probably would increase suffering at least in the short-term for others.
“To what degree is my spiritual practice a part of my pursuit of my personal desires?”
Well, I enjoy feelings of bliss and relaxation at times, and sometimes I have an overwhelming urge to hit the cushion and dismantle the fuss and business of my mind. However the urge to practice has been more of a “should” over so many years. It’s very much an obligation. This obviously part of my psychology from early on, and is taken further by considering the state of the world and so on. Is it a personal desire to want to simplify the mind from time to time, or is it sensible self-care?
“To what degree am I seeking a compromise between my longing to be free from suffering, and my longing to explore my personal desires in life? How much suffering am I willing to forbear in the pursuit of my desires?”
I’m not grokking the whole “desires” thing.
Sure I’d like “Thing X”, a new car maybe, but the arising of that desire is seen to be relatively trivial and is generally simply to be observed. But most of what goes on is a lot lower in the hierarchy of needs – even human contact where we know that young monkeys do poorly without maternal contact than those who are held and cuddled. So the compromise is about doing the things that need to be done to stay healthy and happy as a person, work well in socially constructed roles, while remembering that it *is* all socially constructed and the self is only convention.
How much suffering to forbear to achieve desires? This implies that more desires pursued/achieved means more suffering. Is that true? Are the things I pursue desires (e.g. a nicer home for my family than I’d be satisfied with if it were just me)? I’ll work harder to achieve that nicer home… am I suffering more? Is my family suffering more if they have to live in a grotty part of town? And how much do I learn from this so-called suffering? Having it all on a plate doesn’t mean the cessation of suffering does it? Not for the Buddha and not for me.