Our mind is inclined towards suffering unless…

Our mind is inclined towards suffering unless…

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

Approximately 80% of the world population is living in poverty. It is understandable that those who fall within this category are unhappy. But if we talk to those within the other 20% category, most of them will claim that they are suffering and that the periods in which they are truly happy are very brief compared to the periods when they are inflicted with some form of suffering. Why is this so? All of us are looking for an answer to this problem. To find a solution, we must look deeply into the cause of this human predicament. If we do not understand the true cause, we will merely end up chasing after something to distract us from our suffering without finding an actual solution.

To see why our mind is inclined towards suffering, we can observe the state of our mind when we desire some object, when we get that object and when we lose that object. This also applies to our desire to become ‘somebody’ or to achieve some position. Our desires can also be for something intangible such as power, respect, fame etc.

When we desire an object, we will only look at the positive aspects of the object and we will block out the negative aspects from our mind. When someone talks negatively about the object that we desire, we will sometimes get angry and try to change the subject. We will also get angry at anything or anyone that hinders us from getting that object.

Most of us probably think that fame and fortune is something that is great to have; but is that so? I read in the papers that Al Pacino, the famous actor known for his role in the ‘Godfather’ blockbuster, indulged in alcohol when he became famous because he could not cope with fame and did not have the necessary support system to help him. He went on to say that everyone who becomes famous should have some form of support system to help them to cope with fame! Who would have thought that fame and fortune could bring problems? Most of us desire fame and fortune because we can only see the positive things about them but is not able to look deeply enough to see the other side of the coin.

Our desire signifies that we are not contented with what we have. Whenever desire exists, contentment cannot be there. Without contentment, we cannot have inner-peace. We will be constantly thinking about how we can get that object; or we will be angry at the obstacles that are keeping the object away from us; or we will feel sorry for ourselves for not having the object. We pray that our desires be fulfilled but we forget to pray for fewer desires.

When we finally achieve the object we desire, our suffering merely changes form. After the initial euphoria of getting the object, we begin to worry about losing that object. After all, if we desire that object so strongly, others would to. We become suspicious of others, thinking that they are out to get our belonging. Our mind becomes occupied with means of protecting the object. We incur more costs to protect that object and to maintain it. Keeping that object becomes a constant struggle. If that object is jewellery, the only benefit we get from it is the pride we feel when others admire us wearing it or perhaps the pleasure we get from looking at it. If we try to sell it, we will probably only get back a faction of what we originally paid for it. Is it really worth all that suffering?

Overtime, our mind gets bored with the object. We are no longer satisfied by it and begin to look for other things to crave for. Our mind is in a constant state of dissatisfaction. We are always craving for something. When we obtain an object we craved for, there is a temporary satisfaction but very soon, the mind becomes dissatisfied again and craving predominate the mind all over again. This habit will keep us from getting true happiness.

Many of us may think that is we win a big lottery, we will have every reason to be happy. However, research has shown after the initial excitement of winning the lottery, the winners fall back to their original state of happiness (or unhappiness) which they were originally in. This point to the constant state of dissatisfaction that we are often caught in. Our habitual thinking patterns ensure that we are always dissatisfied; so much so that even winning a big lottery cannot overcome it.

Finally, when we lose an object of our desire, the pain and suffering that we feel is far greater that the joy that we obtained from getting that object. It feels good to gain a million dollars but the pain of losing a million dollars would be far greater.

For some, the pain of losing something is so great that they even contemplate suicide. At that point, the mind can only see what is lost but not what has been gained. A person who has just lost his job can only think and worry about the lost income but is not able to see that he is now free to pursue his dreams.

So, we can see that we suffer when we desire something; we suffer when we get it and we suffer when we lose it. The moments of joy are nothing compared to the periods of suffering. Unless we do something about it, our mind will always push us towards suffering. This is a habit all of us need to overcome.

So, we go on this cycle of craving, getting (or not getting) and losing until one day, we realise that no object or position in this material world can bring happiness. They bring happiness only in our imagination. At best, they only distract us from suffering; that is all they can do. But they also bring suffering along with them. We just need to connect the dots to see this.

Our mind will always be inclined towards suffering unless we realise this fact – nothing is worth getting and nothing is worth being/achieving. If we look at the things that we have accumulated or the position we have attained, we can surely see that there is some suffering attached to them. Maintaining them requires some struggle and often disturbs our inner peace.

Even excitement is a form of suffering because it disturbs our peace of mind. An action-paced movie is enjoyable but the mind will become restless and irritable after the movie. The movie brings excitement – with suffering attached.

What would life be like if we take desire out of the equation? We will find more contentment in our life. There will be less fear and worry. Our mind will become more peaceful and focused; enabling us to do our jobs better. We can see things more clearly and our wisdom will grow. We will experience true happiness; not the exciting distractions that we mistake for happiness.

But desire cannot just disappear because we want it to. It is habit that is deeply entrenched in us. We need to train our mind to look more deeply at the things or position we desire. We will then see that the desired object or position will just change the nature of our suffering; being poor has it problems and being rich also has its problems. Being unknown has its problems and so is being famous. Suffering merely takes on different forms.

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