Among the silliest statements humans make is this one — ‘I just want to be happy.’ As a rule this is said by the young, and because of their short experience of this world they can be forgiven. They will soon learn of their own accord. I always advocate that children should be informed from day one that happiness is not possible in this world, and the reasons for this I shall explain.
Firstly there is nothing about this world, in its construction or makeup that is remotely designed to bring human happiness. This is not the goal of life. In fact, most things in this world seem designed to make people unhappy. If I were to instruct, say, young men, in what life is all about I would tell them something simple like this — ‘you’re here to find a chick, drain the prunes creating new, temporary gene storage units which are called children — and then croak, sometimes horribly.
Of course I would add that they will also be engaged in a nonstop war of survival with countless other organisms each trying to replicate their genetic material. And at the end of this struggle, all die with sword in hand. For this world is nothing other than, ‘the battleground of tormented, agonized beings who devour each other for survival.’ This should be taught in all schools and at the earliest possible moment. One should always follow Aristotle’s advice — not to seek happiness but rather try to reduce unhappiness
Misery is everywhere the rule in underdeveloped countries which, I say, constitute more than half of the world. Let us look to the developed world. These are rich countries and we might expect people to be happy, at least most. However there we battle to find a happy person. How is this possible? It is difficult to find a North American who is not on some kind of what I call ‘mental pills.’ Uppers, downers, feel gooders, pills for this and that. The poor and rich are sad.
The reason for this has been known since antiquity. Human life, indeed all life is dominated by suffering. This suffering is the result of unending desire, craving, greed and the attachment to material things. But desire cannot be quenched, it never goes away. Once a desire is fulfilled five more step into its place. And so on it goes. We wait excitedly for the next smartphone, skinny TV or what have you, only to buy it and within a few weeks are bored to tears and wait for the next, newest model. We race home in traffic Friday evening expecting a joyous weekend only to find, as a rule, that by Sunday we don’t have a clue what to do with ourselves. We are bored to tears and can’t wait for work to start again.
As one poet has noted, millions of people want immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a Sunday afternoon. Imagine living forever! Surely if men could they would soon go mad from boredom and start killing each other.
What is this modern world but a free-for-all competition of rival cravings and greeds? This is what the Great Buddha noted in his Noble Truths. Desire is constant, and desire causes suffering. It is a little-known fact that Buddha did not want to improve this world, only to escape from it. For he knew that the essences of existence cannot be changed.
No permanence exists here. All is decaying. The fate of anything born is death. Nothing survives time, the universe is in flux and soon our entire world will be no more. As Shelley has it:
‘Worlds on worlds are rolling ever from creation to decay,
Like the bubbles on a river, sparkling, bursting, borne away.’
What credible person can survey the terrible suffering on earth and claim that a God is running the show and that this is an all-loving God? The concept is laughable. I say it is only the incurably fundamentalist mind and the uneducated who continue to believe such things.
Now the sublime Buddha taught a doctrine of love and compassion, but nowhere did he make the absurd and wild claim that our world was ruled by a supernatural force of love and compassion. The Western idea of God is comical to Buddhists.
Even the great Albert Einstein has his ducks in a row on this:
‘If God is omnipotent then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought and every human feeling and aspiration, is also his work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty being? In giving our punishments and rewards, he would be passing judgement on himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to him?’
We can be sure that if Jesus could be aware of the sadistic outrages committed in this world in His name He would be filled with horror. Not only could Jesus not have belonged to any church we know today, but it is likely that during the church’s heyday in the Middle Ages he would have been accused of heresy and possibly burned at the stake. There has only been one true Christian, said Nietzsche, and ‘he died on the Cross.’ Modern religion would be something alien to Jesus and we must not hesitate to say that there is no connection whatsoever between the gentle teachings of that great man and what is today called Christianity.
The absurdity of modern Christianity can be exposed by simply taking a serious look at it. For according to this doctrine God created out of nothing a weak race prone to sin, in order to give them over to endless torment. We are told this God prescribes forbearance and forgiveness of every fault — but He does the opposite himself!
Think about it…
The punishment for wrongdoing in Christianity comes at the end of all things, when the world is over and done with. So it cannot have for its object either to improve or deter, and is therefore pure vengeance. From this view then, the entire race of humans is actually destined to eternal torture and damnation and created expressly for this end, save for the few rescued by election of grace — and from what motive these latter are saved? No one knows!
The great British explorer Sir Richard Burton spoke forty languages and studied all religions. He wrote:
‘The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.’
Let us take a look again at people in the Western world. Everything there has changed for the better — except Man! Everything looks happier on the surface yet Man himself is no happier. More and more people worry themselves into insanity and psychiatry has become a big business. Countless millions in developed countries are neurotics haunted by inferiority and insecurity. Why? Because they really believe in nothing. They are spiritually bankrupt.
We can say that the Western world is in the advanced stage of a complete nervous breakdown. It is my view that we will see the states, with their security apparatuses, take the place of any kind of religious belief. The masses are dangerous when not being fooled or lied to. Temporarily, humans can bang away on their smartphones sending idiotic messages to one another. But new technologies will not fill the void. It seems to me life will have to be dictated and controlled by the state. This process is already underway.
Notice that happiness lies either in the future or the past, never the present. The present is always inadequate because it is dominated by desire, the future is uncertain and the past irrecoverable.
Really life should disgust us, filled as it is with misfortunes large and small, with its deluded hopes, unfulfilled wishes — and by the way it speeds us to old age, sickness and death, that irremediable shipwreck.
‘Then old age and experience, hand in hand,
Lead him to death, and make him understand,
After a search so painful and long,
That all his life he has been in the wrong.’
The sublime Voltaire understood this all his life. He said happiness is only a dream and pain is real…
‘I have experienced this for eighty years. I know of nothing better than to resign myself to this and to say that flies are born to be eaten by spiders, and men to be devoured by trouble and affliction.’
The more a man knows of this world, the more he has traveled and experienced things, the more he will be disgusted by his ‘fellow men.’ For I and the great thinkers across the ages have seen that the conduct of men towards one another is characterized by injustice, extreme unfairness, hardness and even blatant cruelty.
The only way humans can survive is by ignoring these truths and practicing ‘busyness’ to avoid thinking. This runs the gamut from idiotic hobbies, idle chatter, the ugly quest for money and every manner of nonsense one can think of.
As the wise ancient Latin wrote:
‘Natum non esse sortes vincit alias omnes: proxima autem est, ubi quis in lucem editus fuerit, eodem redire, unde venit, quam ocissime’
‘Never to be born is far best; yet if a man lives, the next best thing is for him to return as quickly as possible to the place from which he came.’
This is the real, the world, the true.