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New to the forum. Lurked a bit and decided to join after seeing the positive vibe here. I have been 'dabbling' at this Buddhism thing for over 6 years now.
Brief history...I came across the teaching as a curious, spiritual seeking late teen, early 20 something...saw much wisdom in it but put it aside as it was too much of a downer for me and back then I liked the fantastic, kind of "you can have unlimited happiness, success, superpower kundalini, out of this world fantastical" blabla stuff and then moved on to magical type practices.
Well, very many years later...after exploring all those paths and through life experience....I started seeing that those paths have some useful things and truth to them but that for me, the 'spiritual' path had become an ego trip, quest for power (unconsciously) and permabliss, delusions and not actually spiritually nourishing but rather catered more to a kind of spiritual greed. All this came crashing during my first Vipassana sit in 2010 and after, I started studying the dharma more seriously. Unfortunately, even though I have been on several retreats, my daily practice is quite spotty and every time I think I am finally ready to embrace the dharma, my old mind set starts kicking in...
Reading the posts on this sangha, I felt I could ask these questions here...
Why is it so hard to beat the delusion that external things can bring happiness? Like if I met my soulmate, finally got my dream career, lots of success and recognition, great health and beauty, siddhis...life would be so endlessly fun and exciting..there is always more to get...and like the dharma is saying to renounce this seeking. Life seems so drab without goals and desires.
I was on a magical path for a long time that taught cultivation and manifestation of desire as the path to growth and self refinement...but this path of releasing craving and purifying the grasping mind, cultivating compassion and kindness...seems well, intuitively..so spiritually nourishing, sane and real. So, I keep circling back. But then I feel like I am giving up on life, when I see all my role models in the dharma, they are monks, nuns and some therapists. I am just not this Pollyanna type. I guess I have this ego that really defends its right to exist and says life is short, take a gamble and seek everything you can imagine from this lifetime and then those guys that say "Chill and do nothing". I mean, what's the point? Is the 'suffering' really all that bad? And isn't it all those ecstatic moments between birth and death that really matter? Climbing up a mountain, love affairs, having children, launching a successful business, divorce, heartbreak, illness etc. Isn't the whole point just to feel everything and be a human being? Isn't it this grasping for what we think will fulfill that allows human civilization to progress? Aren't we biologically built to go chasing? We even have mechanisms in our brain that reward us when we do. Is it worthwhile to fight your own nature this much? I mean, who cares, we are all going to die anyway?
But yes, I do all those things...sometimes (often) I fail, so I am disappointed. Sometimes, I succeed and feel fulfilled for a while...then the hungry heart returns. The 1st Noble truth becomes so self evident with time, growing up, experience and observation. But this hunger is so..addictive. It makes me feel very alive. I also like the 'high' when things are going well, when on the cusp of achieving a dream and goal...also really addictive. I fear that fully embracing the dharma will make me flat...dead. But I also somehow feel its truth in the core of my being. I also struggle with this teaching because life has brought me so much joy and so much love...like the real kind not just the pleasure thing. I want to be 'attached' to my children, to my father, to those I have loved. That is real to me. And it seems so 'anti-life' and even a bit mean to say that existence is problematic when it is the Source of all things including joy, love etc. Why cant we honor everything including our human nature and desire?
Am I gravely misunderstanding these teachings?
Do we get to be happy in this Buddhist deal? Do we get to live worthwhile lives and have some adventure? Or is it all just about not suffering?
Thanks so much for reading this.