Saturday, February 18, 2017

One Man's Pleasure

We've all become suburban creatures: unshaven weekend slobs in slippers and shorts, jostling carts along the hypermart aisle, grabbing discount toilet-rolls by the dozens, helped by our once delectably lissome spouses--now tubby tiger mums with icecream-cheeked kids in the tow.

We choose our pain to get the happiness we want. Pain and pleasure, like a particle-antiparticle pair that comes into existence together in equal but opposite strength.

A monk values solitude as a time to pray, meditate and develop spiritually. The layman sees solitude as unbearable loneliness, utter and desolate.

So each one of us seek out a life partner that we may have a companion for life's journey. To start a family with bright bubbly kids that one may be proud to call one's own; and then to see them growing up, being educated and successful. That's happiness. So we are more than willing to take the pain that comes with it.

What's the pain of middleclass life? Mostly the fear of the future and the unknown: Will we be able to keep our jobs? Will we be able to afford to send our kids to the best schools? Will our kids grow up to be successful? Will we remain healthy to see our mission through?

Of course, we shall take the office politics with gritted teeth so that we may get our five-figure pay-cheques at the end of the month to pay for all the good things that we give our families. That's pain that we have chosen to accept for the prize of our middleclass happiness. It is a happiness we have taught ourselves to believe in. It is good happiness.

But one man's pleasure is another man's pain. A monk would see such a middleclass existence as empty and hopeless. A life wasted in the pursuit of petty things. A life of accumulating stuff that ultimately disintegrates. A life as hopeless as one could imagine; a life in denial of the ultimate spiritual purpose. A life utterly unexamined.

And here I am the eternal student, marveling at the play of pain and pleasure, awakening a little more with each passing sip of experience.

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