Is Life Inherently Unsatisfying? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)

Question:   Is life inherently unsatisfying?

Response: I suggest two little meditations on your question. I want you to reflect on a few memories and notice your response to them.

Meditation One
A favorite food – bring to mind your favorite comfort food. Imagine its smell, its texture, and its how it looks. Try to call up these memories as vividly as possible. imagine the tastes as it meets your tongue, the sensation as it moves from your lips to the throat. If the tastes are complex, imagine each one individually.

Continue the meditation by imagining a few more bites. Then pause for a few moments and notice how you feel physically and mentally? Think of a few words to describe how you feel.

Meditation Two
Your least favorite person – now imagine that you’ve been asked to spend some one on one time with your least favorite person. You’ll notice your physical and mental state changed quickly. Perhaps a sinking feeling of dread arose, or anger, or something like that.

What was the difference between those two meditations?  In the first you experienced, or at least imagined, satisfaction.  In the second, that feeling went away pretty quickly.

So how do these little meditations relate to the question.  They help to direct your attention to the causes of dissatisfaction. If you believed that “life” is the cause of dissatisfaction, I’d like to remind you that in these meditations, you were only experiencing mind.  You weren’t tasting food “in real life” and you weren’t actually spending time with your least favorite person. The shift from satisfaction to dissatisfaction came independent of the real world.  It came from you. Beauty (or ugliness) is in the eye of the beholder.  Attraction and aversion are personal preferences, not objective qualities of the world.

Life is not inherently anything.  In fact Buddhism characterizes life as being empty of any inherent qualities. This is Sunyata.

Projecting the qualities of good or bad to the objects of our senses is the ultimate blame game and the cause of suffering.

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Dialectic Two-Step  is an ongoing series of my thoughts on questions that come my way.

Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two. - Octavio

Dialectic Two Step, Modern Koans, Verse Us, Say What?, and Minute Meditations all copyright Andrew Furst

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Andrew Furst

Author of two books, Poet, Meditation Teacher, Buddhist blogger, backup guitarist for his teenage boys, lucky husband and technologist
Andrew Furst
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