There may be no meaning to our lives except for what we prescribe for ourselves, but there is one thing that we can be certain of: Life is suffering.
If you are familiar with the teachings of Buddha, this fact will be nothing new to you. It is one of those things that needs time to be understood at a spiritual level even if you have grasped the knowledge from the get-go.
Our culture of consumerism and hedonism wants us to believe that life is about pleasure, enjoyment, and “happiness” like seen in the movies. But that is only one side of life; that sort of view ignores the other side that is more vital. It neglects the side of life where one must battle for survival, where one must fight to realize desires, where one pushes through pain to elevate his will. Those are aspects of life the spoiled weaklings of today will never understand. People today are simply too pampered to appreciate the true value of life.
Young people today live in dream worlds where everything will magically work out and they’ll have the happy ending they believe they deserve. Their optimism is their pitfall. They fool themselves to a point where they are not ready to face challenges—they just don’t expect them. These naive souls don’t know how quickly their world can flip upside down and lose all that they cherish.
There are two types of people in this world depending on how they experience the world.
Just as there are introverted people and extroverted people, there are people who live around positivity and people who live around negativity. And for me, it was always the negative aspect of life that shaped who I am now. I am more sensitive to the negative forces of the world than I am to the positives. In fact, satisfaction and joy in any form hard to come by. I am always plagued by uncertainty, discontentment, and anger. I used to feel guilty about how “negative” I was because I lived in a society that preached positivity non-stop. I was expected to smile when I had no reason to, I was supposed to be optimistic when the reality didn’t warrant it, I was supposed to be nice to people even as they were belittling me. The societal pressure made me feel like an inferior being: a defect who was unable to reach the positive state that others were enjoying. “What’s wrong with me?” I wondered through my youth.
Now, I have a more realistic view of life. I no longer drag the guilt of negativity around with me. I am who I am and it’s better to accept my state of being than to buy into the lies I’ve been told all my life. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I am actively pursing negativity. It also doesn’t mean that I use it as an excuse to be toxic and hateful for the sake of being myself. No. Instead, it’s about understanding my own nature and coming in terms with it rather than fighting with it. It means accepting the pain and anguish that comes with life instead of adding further suffering to it by trying to escape them.
I don’t give up on improving my lot; I still have desires that I look forward to fulfilling. I just recognize that whatever I achieve will all pass away eventually. Whatever I build will wither and be no more.
I have realized now that the negativity I possess is not there to torment me, but it is there to protect me and preserve me against the dangers of the world. But more than that, it is there to push me towards something greater than contentment and complacency, daring me to ascend to a higher state of existence.
Life is not about how you feel, but what you do—that’s all that is important in living.
Only those who suffer become enlightened.