If only life could be like a coming-of-age blockbuster -- "American Pie" or "American Graffiti," a post-teenage pre-summer warm up like "Wanderlust" or "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy." Tonight's Academy Awards proved that systemically biased Hollywood is doing Mara's work by producing profitable promises of hedonism as the way to pursue happiness.
As Americans we have the "right" to pursue happiness, but not to find it or hold it if we should stumble upon it somehow, only to pursue it endlessly. The fruitless quest is why we spend and drown into debt, search for it in a bottle or pipe or pillbox, and wonder why we meet with disappointment (dukkha) again and again.
Disappointment is a great teacher. But I'm a believer again after watching the commercials for "Project X," the party to end all parties! Maybe, just maybe, it'll be different this time.
Seeing four sights reawakened in the Bodhisattva countless years of striving in previous lives: aging, illness, death, and recluseship.
Sensual Indulgence leads to Happiness?
Once a long, long time ago, a rich kid got his own kingdom. When he came of age, 16, his loving parents arranged for him to hook up with his beautiful cousin.
His rich and powerful dad gave him three clubhouses to spend each season in comfort. Whether it was balmy, raining, or cold, he had a place to party. Each was staffed from the second floor up with girls: Dancers, party hostessses, chefs, musicians, bouncers, each clubhouse had it all, a harem, a princess housewife, and friends to celebrate with.
This went on for 13 years. But at 29, his wife had their first kid. Then he realized they were no longer kids. He would be trapped living like this unable to avoid disappointment. Everything had been unsatisfactory, and he realized it would only get worse with age, illness, and death to look forward to.
A harem fit for a prince proved that indulgence did not yield any lasting happiness but only ended in disappointment with no way to ever get it to satisfy (chandawimala).
It was not limited to him, he realized, but to everyone everywhere. Everyone seemed to be missing the four signs they would be asked about when they died. All of these realizations made his decision clear: cut the binds, renounce, and practice for the ultimate realization of liberation from this vicious cycle of rebirth, aging, and death. This, of course, is the abbreviated story of why Siddhartha set off to become the Buddha.