Why is life afflictive?

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2016-08-25 19:12:26
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Afflictions results from attachment to our want while happiness comes from detachment from our own worldly desires. Life will be sweet when we always strive to make others happy and sound.

Maybe we are unware that our actions are motivated by the instinct of seeking happiness and avoiding afflictions. Then why is life afflictive? How can we be happy?

Where there is want, there is affliction. If our neighbor's child fails an exam, we comfort him; but if our own child fails, we are exasperated and worried. This is because we "want" our child to be good. When we are praised, we feel very comfortable; but if we are criticized, we feel very unhappy. This is also because we "love" vanity. The objects of "love" can be anything. So afflictions arise from want.

Afflictions are always with us when we try to obtain what we want: ranking of exam results, ups and downs of the stock market, an apartment of our own, purchasing a car to rid ourselves from the discomfort of being packed in a bus, being employed as a full member instead of a probationer, looking for a reliable partner in the vast crowd of people. All of these make us rack our brains with our hearts going up and down. Moreover, results don’t always come despite painstaking effort. When you want something but cannot have it, we are afflicted. Under the pressures of life, we will  know the bitterness of the heavy blow of our stifled longing when we fail to get what we think is valuable for us.

"Want" is also conditional. If conditions change, the object of want becomes so boring. To sustain happiness, we have to "guard" it strenuously. However, no matter how hard we "guard" it, all that we want will change or disappear. "There is no one who has a thousand sunny days in a row and no flower that stays in full bloom for one hundred days." This is the same with the natural law that the moon waxes and wanes every month. "Want" is doomed to bring about afflictions of "loss" and "remembrance," just as our body ages, and our health gets worse and worse. Both people and things are always changing. Glorious business can turn to a slump; classmates in the college go to work in different places after four years of study; childhood happiness was only a dream of yesterday; our beloved leave us forever. Before they changed or ended, all of these facts or situations made us happy. How can we not remember them? But we feel even more painful when returning to reality from those memories.

"Love" emerges—hankered after—attained--lost, then a new cycle begins. Life is just an endless repetition of this formula. It is thought that happiness derives from owning what we want. But the reality is, to the contrary, there is suffering, where there is want. If someone says that he is suffering now, he must be in "want" of something.

Who will be happier? Those who live a simple life, without worldly desires, will be happier. It is not necessary to store a collection of precious paintings, since there is a huge painting outside the door, called nature. Those who are detached from wants will be happier. Here is an example of a famous contemporary master named Hongyi. When his dishes were too salty, he said:" Very good! Salty dishes have their own taste." When they were cooked bland, he said:" Very good! Bland dishes have their own taste." Therefore, the altruist will be happier. "Want" is self-centered. If we always think about our own feeling, we will often be suffering. But if we always think about others, we shall free ourselves, and then attain the harmless happiness from others' happiness.

Editor: Allison
Tags:affliction, want, self-centered, suffering

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