Discontent Is Really Everywhere–In You

There’s that nagging thing. You forget when it started. You’ve done a lot to try to get rid of it and, barring that, to diminish it.

Remember? There was that one thing you did–that was pretty crazy. But not just that one thing either. Think of all the zany antics and mental gymnastics you’ve been up to.

That you’ve been up to for a lifetime.

But, of course, if you moved, then it would ceased nagging you. Right, because it’s about the place you live. Got it. Except you did move and discovered that it wasn’t that. Or maybe it’s just that this place isn’t the right one. So, keep searching, right?

You tried different relationships. Nope. Still nagging.

Tried different substances. Fell into the background but subsequently roared back, didn’t it?

Of course, you said, because it’s about adopting a different mindset. Yes. Get the mental game down and you’ll own it! Bone up on the best self-help kung fu lit. Sorry, that too didn’t do it, didn’t remove every last blot, stain, blemish of that nagging thing.

Oh, why won’t it just go away?

Well, thankfully, there’s work, isn’t there? Put yourself into something, Carlyle said. That’s a way out of melancholia. Out of The Funk. Work as workaround.

And when there isn’t work, there’s diversion, entertainment, just that thing you wanted to see or go and listen to. So much to look forward to, right?

So much to look forward to! 

Have you looked? Listened just now? Try it. Turns out: Still there. Still Here. You turn away and see a homeless person, shirtless and begging. “I feel so grateful that I’m not like that guy.” Wrong. You are like that guy, only your suffering is subtler, not so obvious.

Your suffering, like his, like mine, won’t go away. And if, holy of holies, that nagging thing were to go away, then there’d be a new nagging thing to take its place.

This was the Buddha’s great insight; this was what the Buddha taught when he announced the first Noble Truth–namely that life, insofar as we selvingly experience it, is dukkha. Is waves upon waves of discontent, unsatisfactoriness, offness. Our mental life is colored by, coated with, and saturated by dukkha.

You find this line of thought bizarre? You think it’s over-the-top? A bunch of bunk? You haven’t realized how, at almost every moment of the day, you turn away from how subtly, quietly unbearable your consciousness ordinarily, selvingly is.

The Buddha also said: The way out is through.