Saturday, January 16, 2016

i miss my gerbils

"Happiness is.. seeing your kids happy?"  This was just posted by a relative on Facebook.  I don't know about kids, I've never owned goats, but I did have gerbils for a while.  I think that's one of the main reasons for having pets.  It can feel good to try to make them happy.

It can feel good to try to make people happy too, but way too much work, and then they're never happy anyhow.  Gerbils seemed to be much easier.  Giving them a piece of cardboard felt like the pinnacle of benevolence.

Then they died.  That simple factual statement, in itself, feels like it sums up the problem almost entirely, without need for explanation.  Death feels like the ultimate negation.  What difference does anything make, if they're just going to die?  We exist in a vast sea of life and death, suffering and relief, teaming all around us, flickering in and out like the exotic quantum particles of empty space.  "Rebirth" is a misnomer.  There is only birth, but it happens constantly, "karma" being the reflecting ripples of influence every life has on the lives around it..

When these lives occupy a microcosm of our own lives, it gives us a perspective very different from that of looking at each other, as we chug along for decades, almost forgetting the same damn thing will happen to us.  All the happiness we experience, all the suffering, will suddenly become completely irrelevant.  Some pretend having children changes the equation, but then they go and die, too.  Usually, after their parents, so their parents don't have to face just how flimsy their act of mortal defiance really is.  The addition of another millisecond, to the blink of an eye.

This may sound depressing, but as far as I can tell, it's still true.  It's not just a depressing perspective, it's facing the reality that people don't like to face.  That they pride themselves on not facing.

The Truth of Dukkha is that all conditional phenomena and experiences are not ultimately satisfying; ..or, grossly simplified, "life is suffering."

There is more to it than wallowing in life's pointlessness, though.  Latching on to our experiences, desperately trying to claim them as our own, this is the actual source of that suffering.  Not that pleasure, pain, and even death aren't real, but they aren't really ours to claim.  This is the illusion our minds create, that there is a self, and it owns stuff.  That these good and bad experiences are more than they are, as we pursue them, and strive to hold onto them, like a flame trying to keep its heat and light from getting away.

The Truth of the Origin of Dukkha is that craving for and clinging to what is pleasurable and aversion to what is not pleasurable result in becoming, birth, dissatisfaction, and death;

This is not an easy illusion for our minds to unravel.  It's something that evolved over millions of years, and while we can logically sort out the nature of it, I'm skeptical of how far it's possible to go beyond that.  We know that how we perceive the physical world is wrong.  Colors are just how we're evolved to interpret photons, solid objects are mostly empty space.  We know these things, but that doesn't change how we experience them. Still, it is a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.  A direction to look towards.  Maybe..

The Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha is that putting an end to this craving and clinging also means that our fundamental misunderstanding of birth, dissatisfaction, and death can no longer arise;

I don't really meditate all the much, though.  I try to live decently, but I never RTFM.  I don't like being given instructions, told how to do things, by people who don't seem to really know what they're doing themselves.  I've never met anyone who strikes me as someone who actually has any real answers.  I've read that answers might exist, but as far as I can fathom, I need to figure them out on my own, and my chances of success are roughly akin to the chance of a blind turtle, rising from the depths of the ocean to the surface, once in a hundred years, putting its head through the hole of a cattle yoke, perchance floating there.

The Truth of the Path Of Liberation from Dukkha is that by following the Noble Eightfold Path—namely, behaving decently, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation—an end can be put to craving, to clinging, to becoming, to feeling lost in a sea of birth, dissatisfaction, and death.

I'm pretty sure my best bet is just to smoke pot, play video games, and hope for the best.   If I'm good at anything, it is being mindful.  Well that, and making curries.  I've tried to be a noble benevolent person, but I don't have gerbils to take care of anymore.  We are who we are.  Maybe I'm just not that turtle.. and in the end, it won't have mattered in the slightest.

No comments: