Pain never goes; we will never be happy.
I thought I would write about what I'm doing around the New Year. Traditionally this has been a kind of limbo period for me, between Christmas as New Years, where time and ordinary business generally slows or halts. A grace period.
But it has been a strange Christmas. It was as if the projection of emotionality and specialness that normally affixes to the festive season had dissolved. Christmas was just another day - admittedly rather ritualised and delightfully pleasant - but just a day of the year. Nothing magical about it.
I got home and really felt this feeling for a bit. How strange! Sure, it's a sign of adulthood that one reaches a halting state over things which no longer matter... but CHRISTMAS. I feel good about it: how ambiguously I experience life. I was thinking about a story where a guy has a neurological disorder where everything he knows to be real he experiences as being a fiction. A smartass might reply that this is Don Quixote, but even the Don has a sense of his own reality as madness. What if a guy experienced everything that arose as a fiction. What a magnificent liar he would be! How would he live without the experience of factuality?
It is with this kind of sublime dodginess that Buddhist vajrayana teaches the first noble truth:
"It is not so much that pain is an obstacle. Rather, as we go on, pain becomes an obstacle because we want to get rid of it... The problem seems to be the attitude that the pain should go, then we will be happy. That is our mistaken belief. The pain never goes, and we will never be happy. That is the truth of suffering, duhkha satya. Pain never goes; we will never be happy. There's a mantra for you. It's worth repeating."
Ow! Yet another reason to dislike Chogyam Trungpa.
I read this like I'm being bitted by a fat flea who never goes away. There is no escape; this is it; now, here, this very thing, this precise breath, this seeing and sensing - all this is, all of it, is pervasive dissatisfaction. One wonders how existentialists could exist without reassuring spiritual teachings. I suppose they didn't.
It is in this mood last night that I did the passion test. The results would be laughable, they were so simple. My passions turn out to be all the prerequisites for the care and feeding of a healthy adult mammal, with the addition of the playtime required to keep a young primate male amused.