“There’s a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same.
“A much more interesting kind adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object f our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize we can endure a lot f pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks.” ~Pema Chödrön
It’s true, of course. Most beings on this planet, including humans, seek comfort and pleasure as their only goal. Some animals spend all their waking hours seeking food. It is their only comfort, their only pleasure. Some more advanced animals can put up with a little pain if they think it will bring them comfort. A horse will tolerate people riding it because it will get food and a comfortable place to sleep from those people.
But pleasure and comfort shouldn’t be the goal at all. If it was, we are in the wrong place for that. No matter how hard we seek comfort, we will still end up getting diseases, being involved in wars, and eventually dying. We can’t hide from the pains of the material world. Instead, we can choose to accept those painful experiences which will lead us to spiritual wisdom and truth.
A Better Life
A better way to live is to accomplish. Whether you accomplish on the physical level, the spiritual level, or both, we need to accomplish. And in order to truly accomplish, we need to learn. We need to learn about the world we live in. Most of all, we need to learn about ourselves. In order to do that, we can’t live a life of comfort and ease. We have to face challenges. Hiding from pain is not the goal. Both physical and mental pain must be accepted. It is part of the growth process.
Adventure and Joy
Chödrön says we need to take an adventurous and joyful approach to life. To many, those sound like contradictory goals. They are not. Yes, an adventurous approach to life is dangerous. We will likely face occasional injuries. We may possibly come close to getting killed at times. But while we may not feel joy at the time we are getting injured, overall our adventurous live will be full of joy. It will be full of joy because we will be moving forward, learning new things. Learning new things is always a joyful experience. Or at least knowing new things is. We may think staying comfortable is giving us joy, but the joy of growing is greater. And spiritual growth is the best growth of all. But as with most growth, there are growing pains. If we back away from the pain, we stop growing. A life of constant growth is a better life.
Beyond Pettiness and Prejudice
Pettiness and prejudice are tools of the lazy. People who want to sit in comfort, yet want to feel superior to others, especially hard workers, take the lazy way out by using prejudice. “Yes, Tommy make work harder than me, but he’s gay.” “Cindy may know more than me, but she’s Jewish.” That is the way they think. Of course, they don’t realize it is laziness, but it is.
That way of thinking and behaving will definitely hold back our spiritual growth. When we have awakened our spiritual self, we know that we are all the same. No race, religion, or nationality is better than the others. The sooner we can learn that on our path, the faster our spiritual self can develop. A better life awaits those who succeed.