There is only one problem in this world. Just one problem that unites every single human being. One single problem from which every other problem arises…
We do not know how to be happy.
And, just to make things worse, the things we think we need to make us happy actually lead to suffering, and, well, that kind of strings a little.
Hence this world.
Our thinking is mistaken. We think ‘if things go my way then I will be happy’… ‘if I get what I want then I will be happy’… ‘if everyone treats me well then I will be happy’.
The problem here is that not one person in the history of humanity has ever had everything go their way… not even a large proportion. No-one has ever got everything they wanted, or even close, and no-one has ever had everyone treat them how they think they’d like to be treat. These options simply do not exist. So, to put our dreams of happiness upon them is kind of stupid.
It could almost be said that the reason we are not happy is because we are trying to be happy.
The problem with desiring things to be a certain way in order to be happy is that the seeming palace of fulfilled desires is riddled with booby traps.
Think about it…
Let’s say you want something, but you can’t have it for whatever reason. What happens? You experience suffering… longing, frustration, upset, anger etc.
Let’s say you want something and you get it. What happens? You worry about it breaking or it being lost and, so, you are experiencing suffering, i.e. worry, anxiety, tension etc.
Let’s say you want something and you get it and then it is broken or lost. What happens? You feel angry about it breaking and, so, you are experiencing suffering, i.e. anger, resent etc.
Let’s say you want something and you get it but it doesn’t turn out to be as good as you’d hoped for. What happens? You feel frustrated about it and, so, you are experiencing suffering, i.e. frustration, disappointment etc.
Let’s say you want something and you get it and it isn’t lost or broken and it is as good as you’d hoped for. What happens? You lose interest and begin to want something else, and, so, the cycle of desire leading to suffering begins again.
In fact, the very best that can come from this is that we want something, we get it, it isn’t lost or broken, it is as special as we’d hoped for, and we don’t lose interest in it. What happens then? We become so attached to this amazing thing that, whether we ever lose it or not, we still fear it being lost, broken etc. and, so, we experiencing suffering, i.e. fear, worry, anxiety etc.
There is no way to win this game. Either way you turn, your desires can only lead to suffering. Our desires can lead to momentary pleasure, and, sometimes, that pleasure can be extended, but there is no way to avoid the absolute truth that, in-built into every desire is the inevitable experience of suffering.
So, what is the solution? Are we meant to never desire anything? How would we grow or develop? Isn’t it desire that drives us forward? Isn’t it desire that makes us accomplish things and become better people? Yes, it is. The point is not to not desire, but not to rest your happiness on fulfilling your desires. Desire what you wish, enjoy it for what it is, don’t attach yourself to it, don’t depend upon it for you to be happy, and then whatever becomes of that desire is okay. If it breaks, okay. If it is lost, okay. If you lose interest, okay. If it turns out to be rubbish, okay. If it turns out to be amazing, okay.
If you want lasting happiness then enjoy whatever is happening. It’s going to happen anyway, so you can either enjoy it or not enjoy it, and, since, enjoyment is more enjoyable than not-enjoyment, it makes sense to just enjoy whatever.
There are many techniques to enjoy whatever is happening to us. One simple technique is to compare our situation to that of others. For example, you might be stuck in terrible traffic, but at least you’re not in a war zone or starving to death somewhere. You can also find things to be grateful for in your situation. For example, you are stuck in traffic but thankfully you have some awesome tunes to put on, or, you have some free time to do some work, or whatever.
It is not the world that restricts or harms our experience of reality, it is our attitude… the way we choose to see things. Once we realise that we have the power and freedom to see the world in any which way we desire then we can begin to experience whatever life it is we wish to experience, and, I’m guessing, that is a happy one.
Now, think about all of this this carefully, because, Western capitalist society is built upon a lifestyle of desiring things and then working to get them, and yet, as we can see from the above, that whole lifestyle can only lead to suffering, with the very best we can hope for being that we experience some pleasure before the suffering comes. That is the very foundation of our society… and it shows!
Look at us! Everything is a mess. We are a mess. No wonder that people are driven insane, no wonder that people are desperate, no wonder that so many people are depressed… the very thing that is supposed to lead us to happiness is actually the very thing that leads to suffering…
And this is the very root of all our problems. Please, analyse this. Look at your lifestyle. Look at what you want right now and how it causes you suffering. Look at all the things you’ve wanted and gotten, and how that has brought you suffering.
This is the key to everything… everything. The future of our planet depends utterly and totally on our understanding this. This cannot be understated… it can be misunderstood, it can be denied, it can be ridiculed, it can be unappreciated, but it remains our only salvation.
Analyse this. Critique it. Think deeply about how this relates to your life and to our world. Think about how this relates to war, to poverty, to the economy, to theft, to murder, to rape, to greed, to pollution… think carefully about every major and minor problem in the world and you will see that it comes back to this.