I’ve studied the Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Zen Buddhism, and Stoicism for years, and I finally realized after studying neuroscience, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory that suffering is not caused by attachment to desire but rather by the delusion of free will.
You’re free to disagree, of course. 😉
Here’s what I’m thinking regarding the illusion of free will. This is not a new idea but it’s helpful to set the stage:
If the universe is deterministic like a clock, then we have no true free will because it’s all proceeding from cause to effect since the origin of the universe. If it’s indeterministic like the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, then it’s governed by probabilistic chance and we are also not in control. These are the only two scientific choices and thus free will is an illusion, as Stephen Hawking would say.
So if free will is patently false, then how can suffering be caused explicitly by attachment to desires? Suffering from attachment comes about after free will is accepted. As far as I know, no religion or philosophy fully integrates the idea of natural will and runs with it, even the Eastern religions. If you realize that you’re not responsible for how you feel then you can let go and experience life fluidly rather than being trapped in your head.
Whatever is happening now is already pretty much perfect, even war and disease. We are only looking through our small ego and separating good and evil, and separation really doesn’t exist. We have a limited view that can cause us to fail to see that bad effects (such as breaking your leg) can lead to great after-effects (such as meeting the nurse that becomes the love of your life).
Everything is like this, and once the principle is accepted one can see the futility in identifying with the physical body. How do you know your death won’t ripple out and save millions down the line? A butterfly flapping in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas, for instance.
Natural will leads to contentment.