Action And The End of Suffering

“All things involve suffering. He who realizes this is freed from suffering. This is the Path.” — The Dhammapada (278).

If, as the Buddhist text claims, “all things involve suffering,” then life merely involves choosing between this or that suffering. And, this does not seem much of a choice, perhaps especially for those who are looking forward to a time in which, they imagine, there will be no stresses or strains in their life.

We are faced with choices every day, of course. To do some work or not to do it; to clean up the home, or not to clean it up; to eat healthily or unhealthily; and so on. Continue reading “Action And The End of Suffering”

The Optimism of the Will

The intellect is a curious thing. We talk about ideas spreading like viruses throughout society, or even across societies. (And note how, every few months, we see a sudden burst of moral outrage — around some antiquated symbol — flaring up in different states and countries only to die out like so many health scares. The moral outrage, the idea, literally spreads.)

But, although marketers and social media campaigners want to spread their particular “idea virus,” typically, we try to avoid catching actual viruses. But the term is a good one. Ideas not only grab hold of societies, they can become malignant in individuals themselves. Good intentions can pave the road to hell, to paraphrase a well-known proverb. Ideas can metastasize. Continue reading “The Optimism of the Will”

Pity Not The Fallen?

“Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler.” Of all of the statements in Crowley’s Liber Al vel Legis (Book of the Law), the above is one of the most controversial. It is also one that contradicts Christian morality and the modern political zeitgeist that emerged slowly from it. For both of these movements, the meek, the downtrodden, and the hurt are avatars of moral goodness.

What does it mean, not to pity the fallen? Isn’t it right, normal, and even noble to pity, to want to console, and to want to help those in distress? Don’t we deserve pity when things go wrong in our lives? Both Christianity and our modern secular morality would unreservedly and enthusiastically say yes. Continue reading “Pity Not The Fallen?”