When the world is just a joke
Phra Paisal Visalo (May, 2006) www.budnet.org Translated into English by Surutchada Chullapram
Humankind possesses the power of creation. We have invented numerous innovations, but eventually our own creations return to ‘create’ us back by influencing our thoughts, behaviours and lifestyle.
Similarly, we set up the value of gold (or diamond) so that eventually gold has become the standard which assesses our value in society. Imagine the way you might feel if you go to a fancy social event without any gold or diamond jewellery.
To take another example, languages are human’s invention. However, at the same time humans are also the invention of languages. Our views and feelings are much dictated by languages. We feel differently when we are called ‘sir’ as opposed to ‘tramp’. The power of language is not limited here as it also intricately, deeply but unnoticeably controls our thinking process and our opinion about life.
Amongst those powerful words is the word ‘my’. We usually call things that we have ‘mine’. This word really makes us think that these objects are actually ours, in the sense that they are under our power and control; that we can direct them in any way we please; and that they will always be ‘ours’ forever and ever. Sadly, this is not the truth. Even more sadly, whatever we think is ‘mine’ actually ‘owns’ us. We, in fact, ‘belong’ to them and not the other way round.
When we buy a nice shiny new car; as soon as we think it is ‘ours’, we will fall under its control, in the sense that we will always be worried about it and taking care of it. We are so controlled by that new car that we can not stop being worried if it is parked somewhere unsafe. We would definitely be upset if the car is scratched, and even gone crazy if it is stolen. Have you started to see who controls who?
Therefore, anything which we think is ‘ours’ is in fact our boss, our controller and our owner. As soon as we think that the money we have is ours, we will then become its slave. We will do everything to protect it from, say, thieves, even if our lives are endangered. Apart from that, we are most likely to work very hard in order to make more money – not unlike a slave who spends his life filling his boss’s treasure chest. This urge to ‘make money’ is an uncanny addiction, so that many of us forget to use the money but focusing on making it. In a way, the money is using us.
The power of ‘my’ extends beyond material possession to human relationship. If we start to think that another person is ours, we will suddenly fall under that person’s control. Our lives, happiness and unhappiness will depend on what the person does or says. Very often, people commit suicide just because this special someone acts in a cruel heartless way. All these start from our own thoughts, that this is my lover, my parent, or my child.
A mother always complains because her son spends too much time on computer games. The son gets annoyed and decides not to speak to his mother, but to spend even more time in front of the computer screen. One day, the mother can not stand it any longer. She demands that he speak to her, otherwise she will kill herself. The boy’s silent response causes so deep disappointment in her heart that she actually commits suicide.
In this case, the more the mother thinks that her son is ‘hers’, the more she falls into his power and the more she becomes unhappy, as a result of her own expectation. Her thought has destroyed herself, and perhaps others around her.
Look carefully, there is nothing in the world which, upon becoming ‘ours’, will not assert control over us, even our own thoughts. We always think that our thoughts are ours, but in fact they are rather outside our control. There are many things which we want to forget, but they always come back to haunt us. Another example, when we hate someone, we can not stop thinking about that person, although that is something we do not want to think about at all.
Thoughts are like beings. Once they come into existence they want to remain that way. This is why they try to make us think about them as often as possible, so that they do not disappear. The more we think, the stronger the thoughts become. Notice that when we are by ourselves, stream of thoughts flows continuously as they are tricking us to keep them alive. Apart from that, they also want us to protect and defend them against any opposition. This is why we argue with those who disagree with our opinions. Sometimes we even have to wage war, in order to defend our views, be it religious or political. The fact that we allow our thoughts to push us into killing must indicate that we are under its power.
The strange thing about thoughts is that once we attach to them, they can push us into doing many things, even if these things yield adverse effects on us. To take another example, a man really adores his own back garden. He spends a lot of time on it, and tries to make it looks perfectly at all times. He does not allow anyone to walk on his grass on fear that the grass might be damaged. So, does the back garden belong to him, or does it, in fact, own him?
One day he discovers that there are moles underneath the garden, damaging his beloved object. He tries in various ways to get rid of the moles, but to no avail. Eventually, he decides to fill the moles’ holes with petrol and burn them all up. The moles die, as he wishes, but his garden is also totally destroyed.
When we want to triumph over someone or something, this thought will push us to the limits and tell us to do anything in order to win, regardless of what we might lose in the process. Isn’t it true that very often, things that we lose are those we love the most?
Why is it that once we think that something belongs to us, be it money, people, thought or fame, that thing takes control and we become theirs? The answer is our attachment to them. Once we are attached to something, we can not help but be affected by it emotionally. It can make us happy or sad. Maybe we should try to control it, make it subject to our will? However, how many things in the world that we can truly control? We can not even control our body in the sense that we can not stop the aging process, nor the illnesses inside it. Nor can we control our mind, we don’t even know what we will be thinking in the next minute, let alone calming it down (for example, when we are angry). Therefore, the more we try to control, the unhappier we may become. We might think that we gain some happiness from the control, but this is only momentarily. Then we are back to unhappiness again.
The more we want, the more we lose. The more we think that we are the controllers, the more we become the slaves. But once we let it go, we will get it back. When we are free from attachment to everything in the world, it will come back to us and belong to us in such a way that does not cause any pain or unhappiness. This is the truth of the world. It may sound like a joke – the world is just joking on us.
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