I have trouble with the teaching that anything outside of us … people, money, jobs, things … cannot be looked to for happiness or to end our suffering. That the search for those things actually causes our unhappiness or suffering. That we can only look to ourselves to be happy or end our suffering. If that is the human condition that is terrible. Why bother?
Unhappy with the Human Condition
Dear Unhappy with the Human Condition,
You are hardly alone. Many years ago, towards the beginning of my practice, I asked a traveling monk that if we were all born essentially perfect, why was it that we all suffer. His answer was that it’s just the way it is. That it’s like the laws of thermodynamics.
That is indeed the answer … things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is. And the sooner we accept and embrace that fact, the sooner that we will be at peace and happy.
However, that is only the answer as far as it goes. The other part is that things are the way they are because man, from almost the beginning, has made a mess of using the gift of his mind. Generally, once mankind left a communal lifestyle, instead of using his mind for the good of all, he has used it for his own personal gain. And the rest as they say, is history.
It is man that has developed what is often mistakenly referred to as “the human condition” … an insecure, samsara-filled condition. But it is not. It is a man-made condition. The true human condition is the one that each and everyone of us was born with … the true Buddha mind, at peace and happy.
But since we are thrust virtually the moment after birth into a world devised by man which is hostile and ego-oriented, the opposite of loving and nurturing, we develop into insecure beings who in turn do what we think we need to in order to protect ourselves. Most people try to exercise power over others in whatever way they can; some do the opposite and retreat into a shell. It is a vicious cycle and the root of man’s samsara.
So while what you say is true … that we can only find peace and happiness by going within ourselves and reconnecting with our heart, our true Buddha nature, and seeing things through its eyes … it is not true that our suffering is a function of the human condition. Our suffering is a man-made creation. Peace and happiness is the true human condition.