Mr. Trombley has been educating me in the ways of Buddhism and it sparked me to have a look around to see what else I can find. It does seem like a branch of the whole self-help thing pulls a lot from Buddhism and I'm beginning to think that it's those elements that just aren't sitting quite right with me.
Attachment leads to suffering. Or so the enlightened might tell me.
But what the hell is the point if you aren't attached to anything? Or anyone? Remove all attachments and you're just waiting for death (as well as being a Billy-No-Mates). That won't be long too if you remove your attachment to food and water.
Or is it okay to be attached to those things?
Let's have a look at the Four Noble Truths according to Buddhism from the Big View site. There are many other places you can find these but they seem to amount to the same thing.
1. Life means suffering.
And I thought I was negative.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
Okay, well there's a bit of sense here. If you are attached to something, not having it or losing it will lead to suffering. But... then having it will lead to pleasure. Satisfaction. So this is being a bit 'glass half empty' about it. A bit negative.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
Well that's more like it! A bit of positivity. Let's move forward and see what we can do to end suffering. Oh, you end suffering by "attaining dispassion". Yeah, dispassion. Apparently that gives you "freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas". Well, I like ideas for one thing but it also gives you freedom from fun, love, creativity and, by definition, passion. You know, like slipping into a coma. Coma patients have achieved this third point. Should those of us still awake, still alive, strive for "dispassion"?
4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
This point just seems to be a more long-winded version of point 3. Could have really wrapped it up in 3 points. The Three Noble Truths - that doesn't sound too bad, does it? But, in this, we have the word "progress", like striving for the coma-patient ideal is a positive move forward. Having evolved from single cell beings who seem to me to have achieved all of this already, I can't help thinking of it as a bit of a step backwards.
Yeah, this Buddhism thing just isn't for me.
It really sounds like somebody just got really down one day and wallowed in their misery for a bit too long. Like a teenager sitting in a dark room. Nobody loves me, so I'm going to shut myself away from the world and listen to Morrissey, as it would have been in my day. If I feel nothing, nobody can hurt me.
I would call that being ruled by fear. And those four (well, three) Noble Truths seem to be motivated by fear too: fear of suffering.
So I think my response to the Four Noble Truths has to be -
Cheer up, mate. It might never happen, eh?