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Thursday, December 8, 2011

If You're Not Happy Now You Never Will Be

future  n. 1.   An imaginary land of peace, love and prosperity, often unconsciously linked to another domain, the past. An equally fictional realm of regret, sorrow and despair.

I don't want to die. I mean, who does, right? Yet some belief systems believe that's how you ultimately achieve true happiness, or heaven. (Yeah, that's what belief systems do, they believe.) Anyway, that just doesn't make sense to me. You have to do something very unhappy to achieve happiness. Seems like a conflict of interest. In any case, I don't want to "go away", if that's what it means. I want to love life here and now. I want to be happy here and now. Not in some far-off-promised future. "Tomorrow never comes." Not that I don't understand the need for patience and time-bound earth operations, but when do we get that prize on the end of the stick they told us about? How long does it take? How many lifetimes? Is there a shortcut? Do we really have to die for it? I mean, physically? And just what is the prize anyway? Well, whatever it is, I want mine now. Not that I'm impatient, but the older I get, the more I realize there is no other time than now. I mean, technically-speaking, it's always now. There just isn't any other time. Dying isn't going to change that fact. Past and future are just illusions of the mind. Mere thoughts. Even when you're thinking about the past or the future, it's still now that you do it in. Hence the saying, "If you're not happy now, you never will be."

What?! My what you may ask? (Or you may not.) What though, is my prize? The one I mention above? What will satisfy me? Specifically. No beating around the bush with pie-in-the-sky nonsense about world peace or some mumbo-jumbo about heaven. What specifically would make me happy? Fair enough question. The way I see it is, if we just get rid of whatever it is we don't want in our lives, lose whatever it is we don't like, whatever is left over will be happiness. So no need to go into specifics or details, though it will contain both. But it's different things for different people. One life is just as good as any other. Multi-colored strands of multi-fabric yarn all magically interwoven into one big beautiful ball of kitty-cat fun. (...Well, even better than that I bet.)

But what it all boils down to I guess is suffering and what to do, or not do, about it. That would be the thing mentioned above that everybody wants to get rid of, the thing we don't want in our life. Lao Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, isn't this what they were talking about? An end to suffering? I think most other reasonably-minded people would agree, suffering sucks, and they'd do away with it if they could. Well, first step in my mind would be to loathe it and not wish it outright, or even subtlety upon anyone (myself included) ever again, in any way, shape or form. Let's keep it in the movies, where we can tell wise stories about how to avoid it. [Like this one I'm tellin' here. And these here.] After that first step, well, just act accordingly. And if the wish for ill against anyone rears it's ugly head, dismiss it with the loathing you feel for it yourself. Let loathing work for you, instead of against you. If we have to loathe something, why not loathe suffering? If we truly don't want something why hang on to it? We have the technology to end suffering world-wide, at least stuff like basic food, clothing and shelter, but we don't have the will, that's the truth of the matter. So far. But that doesn't mean we still can't do it. And we will, once we get our priorities straight. It's never too late to do the right thing.

Or not. What do I know? Either way, suffering sucks, whether it's our own doing or not, and whether we believe we can end it or not. In any case, I vote we get rid of it as much as possible, in ourselves and others as well. And it's not about blame and finding fault either. The "blame game" always falls short, so to blame ourselves or others for suffering is not going to work and in fact only adds to the very suffering we're hoping to relieve and avoid. Blame itself is part of suffering, so it has to go also. Yet how does the idea of self-determination fit in with that bit of understanding? Not blame, but responsibility? People do do things that cause themselves and other people to suffer. If I push a button and a bomb falls from the sky on your house, the reasons and justifications are secondary to the fact that I'm causing suffering. To say the homeowner is just as responsible as the bomb-dropper seems a bit of a stretch to me, yet to believe he has absolutely no say in the matter is to believe in mere chance. Somehow they're tied in it together, the bomber and bombee.

No doubt the ego creeps in there somewhere and leads us back to the blame game whenever we first try to inquire about the truth of the matter. You can't really blame the bomber because in his mind he's doing the "right thing". Yeah, it's crazy, but "blaming" him won't stop him. Only reason can do that and he's got to want it to see and believe it. In any case, the fact that the bomber believes the suffering to be justified still means he believes in suffering, albeit with "conditions". The reasons don't really matter, he still believes in the idea of suffering. Does the bombee believe in it also at some level? Does he bear any responsibility (not blame) for it happening? Could his prior belief-based actions or in-actions (days, weeks, months, years, lifetimes beforehand) have somehow contributed to the situation? Could he have an unconscious belief in suffering also? If you believe in something, it applies to yourself as well as others and the only way to not come across as a total hypocrite would be to split your mind into separate compartments (sound familiar all you ex-CIA/FBI guys out there?) or some other kind of psycho-mind-fuck-self-trick where the idea of suffering (take your pick as to what kind or variety, they're legion) applies only to others, but not to yourself. But you can't imagine or rationalize away suffering. Yeah, pain is an illusion, but it still hurts.

So is it actually the unrecognized belief that suffering has some great purpose that keeps us all suffering? What could the purpose of suffering be? To teach us a lesson? When do we learn the lesson? How much suffering do we need to learn the lesson? Who decides how much? What is the damn lesson anyway? And isn't there any other way to learn it? Seems to me, if suffering has any purpose at all, it's to get rid of itself. Only a masochist could think otherwise.

pain  n. 1. Guardrails on the highway of happiness.