Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Archive for August 2009

Of Buddhism and The Philosophy of Decision Making

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It has been 5 years since the day I started studying Buddhism philosophy. Buddha is not a divine being. Like you and me, Buddha is just a human being, a mere mortal.

Buddha became enlightened after many years of searching for the meaning of life. Buddha knew the in and out of how human mind and the environment work. In Buddha’s world, there’s no magic, no miracle, no divine power but all can be explained by using logic, common sense and wisdom.

Even after 2,500 years, his wisdom is still applicable in many area of our life. Buddha’s words always make sense to me. It might sound audacious, but I strongly believe Buddhism philosophy played and will continue to play a huge part to advance and evolve our mind.

For this little meaningless anniversary, I dedicate this essay, on how Buddhism philosophy can be applied to something we do everyday – Making Decisions.

 

 

The Meaning of Choices

“Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” ~Buddha

Have you ever wished that sometimes, you do not want to make a choice? That if only things will fall and fit into places perfectly well without yourself putting much effort? As if an invisible hand helping you along, sort of like a miracle? 

The truth is, this world is not as rosy as we would love to imagine. Buddha made a point that this world is a struggle. The reality is harsh, rough and severe. You have to raise yourself up to a level where you have to take on challenges instead of letting challenges taking on you.

The world we are living in is a world where we constantly have constraint with resources. In other words, the world does not offer and give you what you want all the time.

To get something, you need to put in effort. If you keep hoping for things to happen miraculously then you are doing nothing but dreaming. The world will not give a damn about you, if you do not give a damn about putting effort. This is an eternal rule of cause and effect. If you do not love yourself, the world will not love you. If you do not put in effort on yourself, the world will not reward you.

Therefore, we have to make decisions and choices all the time.

In between choices, there will always be something to gain and there will always be something to lose. This is the law of equilibrium. The common sense is, if there’s all to gain but nothing to lose, then it is no longer called a choice – It will only merely be selection.

“Should I spend XXX amount of money to get a new handphone or a gaming gadget? Should I start my own business or should I not?” If everyone has plenty of resources and has plenty of money, then there’s no longer  a need to make a choices – they could get anything they want and all these are merely up for selection. But the truth is, 99.99% of the people in this world probably do not have this privilege of without needing to make a choice.

Choice is something we have to go through on a daily basis. It is inevitable. Therefore, I will go through each of the important elements when making choices and coming up with a decision.

Effort vs Luck

"The unwise wait for a lucky day but every day is a lucky day for a diligent man." ~Buddha

Some people choose to ignore choices and actions but instead, hoping for LUCK to shine on them. They wish for things to fall right in front of their feet, expecting life would be easy. Essentially, this does very little to help because they are only relying on FATE and LUCK for things to happen. Relying on fate and luck is a bad idea because luck is always beyond our control. Fate and luck may happen right now, or it may never ever happen. You never know. If living in uncertainty makes you happy, by all means, submit yourself to fate and luck.

If uncertainty is not the way of your life, then you will need to create our own luck by putting in Effort. Make things happen with your own hands. Do your best. Never give up.

Remember, the world will not give a damn about you, if you do not give a damn about putting in effort. If you do not give a damn about making choices but only hoping for the best to happen by chances, then that’s also how life will treat you – by giving you random fate and luck to your life and you have no choice but to live in it.

This is all part of the Karma system – The cause and effect.

Fantasy vs Logic

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment ~Buddha

 

One inherent habit in every man is to perpetually dream about the future. Not a bad thing considering dreams move the world forward and push human mind to evolve. However, it is equally important to understand the danger of ‘over-dreaming’.

Human often love to think ahead. This indirectly create a bad habit – we love to fantasize of the possible outcome  while making choices. And the bad part ? We often struck down by fear when fantasizing the outcome of the choices.

As have been studied in Pyschology field, the mind has a strong self-defense mechanism for self-preservation purposes. The mind persistently give out negative thoughts so that we will not do anything risky which will potentially harm ourselves mentally and physically. The mind often tell you – “What if I do this and fail? What if this does not turn out to be as expected? What if I lose money doing this? What if people laugh at me? I will be embarrassed!

Recognize that these thoughts are nothing but just pure fantasy. Why do I say fantasy?

You are in the present, and the future is yet to come. Your mind creates some fantasy about the future, and you believe in your fantasy without any hesitant. You religiously believe in your “prediction”, thus, conveniently stop yourself from taking actions with all these negative thoughts. Nonsense! You don’t predict the future … you create the future!

Hence, Buddha’s advice ‘Focus on the Present moment’.

But does it really mean you should not think ahead about the future? It is true Buddha did say ‘do not dream of the future’, but in a deeper implication, what Buddha meant was – Do not get obsessed with your fantasy but think what is remain do be done RIGHT NOW to bring yourself forward.

As Buddha said, “Your thoughts today creates your tomorrow.” Why should you be over-concern about tomorrow? What really matter is doing something meaningful today, RIGHT NOW, so that you will have a better tomorrow.

To Do vs Not To Do and Happiness

“"You will always be getting praise and blame, but do not let either affect the poise of the mind." ~Buddha

 

When one uses Logic to make a decision on whether to do something or not, then the choices are pretty clear – it is either Yes or NoDo It or Don’t Do It. Period. There’s no need to over-think.

How do you know whether should you say Yes or No? To do or not to do? Simple. Go back to the Buddha’s basic rule of life – to be happy. You got to make a decision which you will not have any regrets at all in the future. If deep down inside, you know you will be saying, “Damn, if only I did/didn’t do it”, then that’s a bad decision. It is a form of suffering because you leave yourself hanging in uncertainty and regrets.

“Should I take on entrepreneur path and make million of dollars?” If you are perfectly content not living a luxurious life, think money is just an illusion, that money can’t buy you some things you want in life, then by all means the answer NO is your good answer.

However, when there are doubts and something inside is bugging you when you say NO, that you think you are deceiving and lying to yourself, then NO is not a good answer. It is an answer which will make you suffer from remorse for the rest of your life. Hence, in this way, the only answer which will potentially bring you more happiness is the answer YES.

This is how reasonably simple to use logic to make a GOOD decision.

You might think, “What if I do/didn’t do, and it proves that I’m wrong? What if my decision is a failure? Should this a enough reason not to do it?”

1. Read Fantasy vs Logic again

2. Read Attainment vs Failure below

Attainment vs Failure

“What Comes To You, Comes From You” ~Buddha~

Remember when you craved for something so badly but once you got it, you don’t feel the same craving anymore? Because in the mind, the feeling of Craving is always stronger than Attaining.

Every time we crave for something and try to reach our hand to grab it to our side, whether it is wealth, achievement, love, or gadgets, there is always a universal law governing this act of attainment. What this universal law says is simple – if you try to get anything which is not yours to your side, there’s a chance you will fail and not getting it.

If you do not have wealth, and you try to move wealth to your side, you might succeed in gaining but there’s a chance you may not make it in the first few attempts or ever. If you try to grab a girl’s heart to your side, you might succeed but you may also fail.

Failure is inevitable in life simply because we have to make so many choices all the time. Remember the universal law – the universe does not give you everything you want. And more, the universe does not give a damn if we are not happy about it because the world does not have emotions. The world is neutral.

This fear of failure itself is what hinders people from taking actions. And fear is wrong. You can only get this much of the things that you want by not taking actions, hoping for things to fall perfectly well. However if you take actions, the chances of you getting what you want will naturally double, triple or perhaps quintuple.

The emotion of fear should not exist in human mind. It’s destructive. Instead, the right way to think – To embrace reality and embrace failure. Accept the reality that if you are trying to get something which is not yours to your side, you may gain … but you may also fail. This is just the way how reality works – Yin and Yang. To have success, is to have failure. 

If you try, at least you have a tiny chance to succeed. If you do not try, then failure is absolutely 101%

Conclusion

One quote to sum it all ……

"Cast off pretense and self-deception and see yourself as you really are." ~Buddha

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

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Written by elan85

August 23, 2009 at 12:23 am

Posted in Philosophy