Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Love People, Not Pleasure"

In 2004, two economists looked into whether more sexual variety led to greater well-being. They looked at data from about 16,000 adult Americans who were asked confidentially how many sex partners they had had in the preceding year, and about their happiness. Across men and women alike, the data show that the optimal number of partners is one.

This might seem totally counter intuitive. How can it be that these very things can give us unhappiness instead of happiness? We look for these things to fill an inner emptiness. They may bring a brief satisfaction, but it never lasts, and it is never enough. And so we crave more. We can’t quite pin down what it is that we seek.

This paradox has a word in Sanskrit: upadana, which refers to the cycle of craving and grasping. As the Dhammapada puts it: “Like the monkey seeking fruits in the forest, he leaps from life to life... Whoever is overcome by this wretched and sticky craving, his sorrows grow like grass after the rains.”

Declaring war on our own basic desires, on these destructive impulses, is not about asceticism or Puritanism. It is about being a prudent person who seeks to avoid unnecessary suffering.

|| न सुखात् लभते सुखम् ||
Desirelessness is the the highest bliss
NYT: Love People, Not Pleasure

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