Hedonism: An Empty Path

buddha-india-mind-prayer-161170.jpegI am not necessarily opposed to hedonism, rather, I find it to be too shallow and spiritually empty. While I think that, in terms of physical enjoyment, hedonism can be quite grand, for the most part, hedonism simply encourages a form of living that is too materialistic. Hedonism attempts to be a method of escape that lacks any spiritual prowess. The goal of hedonism is to escape suffering, to try and enjoy as much of life as you can. But this enjoyment is based purely on material things, and it also fails to mention that pain and suffering are important tools in creating a stronger individual and thus are necessary for development. There is a reason why, when one thinks of a hedonist, one usually imagines an irresponsible, shallow and idiotic person. There is a reason why “hedonist” is used an insult and the word “ascetic” is not. One must understand that everything material is subject to change, and that materialism will only bring a short amount of joy but a long period of suffering. Hedonism, which is rooted in materialism, is a guaranteed way for a person to fall into spiritual oblivion, emptiness and possibly cause serious psychological or physical damage. One must live a life of adventure and pleasure, yes, but one must also have some sort of anti-materialist foundation to fall back on – otherwise all your materialistic and physical gains will quickly become meaningless and unsatisfying to you. Hedonism is therefore not “evil”, but it is shallow and misguided, and it’s philosophy is only appealing to those who lack any real sense of intellectual or spiritual character.

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Lost Memories

Do you ever wonder how many lost memories you have? By this, I am referring to events that you have experienced but, over time these memories have either faded (or perhaps were not properly encoded) and thus now are essentially ‘lost’ forever. It just seems strange to me. We experience many things in our lives, yet we often to seem to remember only the bad times or the really good times. This can be unfortunate, because when remembering events we often forget the little things that brought us joy, like taking a walk, or reading a good book, or just talking with friends – all of these little memories that made us happy seem to be lost in obscurity.

On the ‘Uniqueness’ of Your Suffering

You’re not special just because you suffer. Everyone suffers. You may think or feel that your suffering is somehow different, that your suffering is unique, or that you are the only one in the world going through this type of pain – but you are wrong. Many people have experienced the kind of pain that you are experiencing. There are innumerable people who have suffered the same pain that you have gone through – people who lived before you, people who are living right now, and people who will live after you are dead.

Your suffering is not unique, it is not special, and it is not different. Many people have gone through what you are going through – so your suffering does not make you unique. In all honesty this post is supposed to cheer you up – its supposed to show you that others have gone through what you have gone through, and that this ‘pain’ is not something only you have – a myriad of others have experienced it too.

Emptiness in Life

For a while I tried to end the emptiness inside my life. But eventually I learned that emptiness is inevitable. It will never go away as long as I exist. So instead of despising it I decided to embrace it. Things in life go much smoother when one learns to accept and embrace the feelings of emptiness in their life – when one understands that these feelings are a part of you – that they will always be a part of you.

Pain, Suffering and Beauty

One must live in pain, and yet they must also learn to see the beauty in their suffering.

Imagine a marble statue for example. The marble statue is beautiful – but it wasn’t always like this. At one point in time this marble statue was merely a block of marble – indistinguishable from any other block of marble. But over time this block of marble was chiseled, sculptured, torn apart, broken, hit and damaged until it formed a shape – a particular identity.

pietrasanta-sculpture-marble-block      1-earth-touch-marble-buddha-sculpture

Likewise, your identity is largely formed through the struggles in your life and how you overcome them. Struggle is what defines you – its what motivates you. If you can learn to see the beauty in this struggle then the pain becomes bearable – to some extent it can even become desirable.

And of course, I am sure the realists will mention ‘But a block of marble has no consciousness – it cannot feel pain, unlike us humans’. They are right, a marble statue does not feel the pain and force being pressured against it. However, a marble statue is also not able to appreciate its own beauty. Consciousness of pleasure and peace requires a consciousness of pain and suffering. A person must have both – not one or the other.