The inherent nature of a human being is to pursuit happiness. Depending on how one defines happiness, one goes on a journey to find it.
Generally, a person spends a good number of years gaining worldly happiness. Also, he has to go through many hardships in obtaining happiness. After all, how long he could remain happy? This article is a brief discussion about why worldly pleasure is momentary.
What is worldly pleasure?
Worldly pleasure means pleasure that we pursue through the internal five sense doors. They are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body.
When pleasant external sensory objects such as; visual forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and comfortable touch come in contact with the above five sense doors, one gets a pleasurable feeling.
For example, when you see someone you like, you feel happy. When you hear your favorite song, you feel happy. The other sense organs; the nose, tongue, and the body also react to pleasurable objects namely; good smell, tasty food, and comfortable touch.
All of us have selected different pleasurable paths and we always try to gain happiness through those avenues. For some, pleasure is about eating tasty food. For others, traveling brings pleasure. Some people feel happy when they get a lot of money. In an actual sense what one has done in gaining happiness is experiencing the external sensory objects through internal five senses doors.
Does worldly pleasure bring actual happiness?
As mentioned earlier, a person strives a lot to experience the world through five sense doors.
He goes to school and studies hard to get a good job. Once he gets a good job, he works so hard to expand his income. He buys a car, builds up a house, gets married, raises children, etc.
His journey never ends. Then he has to go through the same process again with his children. He conveys the kids to school, works so hard to give them a good education, give them in marriage, etc. because now he finds happiness through his family.
The journey never ends. Now the person is retired. Suppose he has grandkids. Then again he engages in the same process with his grandkids because now happiness means attending grandchildren at old age.
One keeps on going through the same route until death. Worldly pleasure is about going after aspirations in different phases of life. There is no end to it.
What is the negative side of worldly pleasure?
· Hardships in gaining worldly pleasure:
A person has to spend long hours making life happy and comfortable.
When one does not understand this reality, one lives in an illusionary world. Some think being surrounded by all luxuries is the ultimate happiness and ignore all the difficulties they have to face in gaining happiness.
Only a student will know how much stress he goes through to get good grades. Even if he gets good grades, how many are there without a job?
One agrees to go over and over difficulties without questioning them. Generally, we saw our parents worked so hard to earn money, raise children, and live a good life. We also undertake to do the same without analyzing why we have to go through a similar cycle.
Our minds are formatted in a way so that we agree to walk on the same track without any questioning. Only if one thinks wisely, he will start realizing the entire process is suffering.
· Worldly pleasure is momentary
It does not matter how much one strives to gain worldly pleasure, it does not last long. For example, let us think you spent US $35,000 as the down payment to buy a house. You feel happy. If there is a financial hardship and you cannot pay off the mortgage, you have to give up the house.
Let me take another example. The moment a child is conceived; parents feel very happy. They spend many sleepless nights raising him up. Once the child grows up, he will be on his own. He leaves his parents one day to start his own family life.
If one can find happiness through worldly things, why do some people who have everything in their lives like wealth, power, beauty, and fame find life unsatisfactory? Sometimes celebrities get divorced, addict to drugs, or even commit suicide. That indicates the so-called worldly pleasure cannot give happiness forever.
The happiness we try to find from the outside world is just momentary. Sooner or later, the object through which we found happiness changes. Then the happiness will change into suffering. Therefore, worldly pleasure is temporary.
· Worldly things change on their own:
Also, it is necessary to contemplate the reality of the animate and inanimate objects we collect to gain happiness. If you think your beauty gives you happiness, visualize how it would be when you are 90 years old. If you think your car gives you happiness imagine what it looks like in another 100 years.
This is a little activity you can do identifying the reality of things that we treasure. When you are skillful to contemplate things as it is, your attachment toward them will gradually go away. You will understand there is no point in clinging on to things that are not forever.
Is there something beyond worldly pleasure?
If one develops the mind and becomes fully enlightened, that is beyond worldly pleasure. One needs to engage in a process like meditation that cultivates the mind.
Before starting meditation, it is necessary to do the groundwork. Living a virtuous life helps a person to have a blameless mind. Also, having moral conduct helps a person to use the five sense doors moderately.
Similarly, one can cultivate generosity training to detach from one’s belongings. Detachment furthers humane qualities like kindness and sympathetic joy in the mind.
Thereafter, one needs to train his mind to meditate. One can reach concentration and gain insights through meditation. According to Buddhist teachings, the experience gained through the development of the mind is beyond worldly pleasure.
For more details, read Can generosity be taught?
As a human being, it is necessary to earn money and spend a comfortable life. However, one should know the boundaries of worldly pleasure, so that one can live his life with virtue, generosity, and wisdom.
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash