Isn’t Buddhism About Not Having Desires?

After a recent podcast interview, my interlocutor, with whom I was discussing the prevalence of burnout among medical residents, said, “Isn’t Buddhism about not having desires?”

“No,” I replied, “it isn’t.”

A man loves a woman and she loves him. However, circumstances are such that they can’t be together. The man wrote to me: “I can’t help but miss here.”

“Then miss her,” I said. “Missing someone you dearly love is only natural.” “However,” I went on, “fantasizing about how you and she will be together and about how you’ll have children together and all the rest: this is where the dis-ease arises.”

“Therefore,” I concluded, “Experience the missing fully while letting go of any residual fantasizing.”

This is the essence of Buddhism.