Why is Buddhism so pessimistic? Because…

IMG_2290I don’t know: so maybe you’ll forego your pride, like a good Christian? I notice that the prouder one is, the more ‘optimistic’ that person also is, most likely assured that whatever good fortune has come to him as a result of superior skill and talent will surely repeat itself infinitely and indefinitely, since the world is a vast abundant field of untold and uncalculated riches, the sky is truly the limit, and YOU are the master of this world, right front and center—uh huh, yeah right…

Doesn’t that make you feel good? I mean: doesn’t that just make you want to jump out of bed, slam down some breakfast, slide into your suit, cruise downtown, zoom up to the 52nd floor, then order your secretary around, just a little bit, not enough to cause her any lasting damage, much less any drop in office efficiency, just enough to let her know who’s boss, let her know who pays the bills, let her know who wears the pants, or not…

Because we’ve got places to go, things to do, buttons to push, and fish to fry, got a dog in this hunt, got a horse in this race, and it’s all good, and it’s all growing, at an exponential pace, no limits, subject only to the laws of physics, in which the unverse is not only expanding, but at an ever-creasing rate, which supercedes any so-called laws of economics, nothing but the raves and rantings of men, that supply and demand somehow balance each other out and the invisible hand of the marketplace rules with ruthless efficiency…

There’s only one problem: it’s all a lie, or it might as well be, anyway, for all the good it’ll do us, because you don’t know what the findings of science really mean, since it’s just a belief system, too, even if a powerful one. And we all know that capitalism depends on growth like the pyramid scheme that it is, new debtors paying off the old debts while the creditor skates by on gilded wings. They say that the house never loses and so go the banks, artists and archetypes of the great farce we know as capitalism, not to be confused with free enterprise and the rights of free association…

But the sky is not the limit, if your cash on hand is, equivalent to the value you have already created, no credit allowed except in your wildest fantasies, and that is the lure of capitalism: free money, pay later or not at all, always some big shots gonna game the system for all it’s worth, but the catch is the interest on those loans, that compounds daily, fast forward five hundred years and we’re the victims of our own excess, dying at the feet of global warming and unable to change because of our greed…

And if the pride don’t get you, then the greed certainly will, either that or the hate, all symptons of the same basic dissatisfaction—with our lot, and our lives, and our less-than-ideal circumstances. And left to the machinations of marketeers and carnival barkers in trade fairs and side shows, we’ll never be satisfied, but always hungry, even when satiated, saturated and full-to-bursting…

And that’s what Buddhism does, it tries to placate those unhealthy insatiable desires and convert them into something useful and beneficial, or at the very least not harmful. And, for all its shortcomings, that is a much more achievable goal than the unbridled passion of Christianity or the always-bridled submission of Islam. After all, pride is a sin in every religion, if I remember correctly, so not so much difference between them strictly by the letter of the law…

So I don’t buy the ‘pessimism’ argument, ‘realism’ a much more accurate description IMHO, but if you’re adamant that the sky must be the limit, then that won’t help much, even if that’s all a capitalist hoax to divert your attention from glaciers melting, politicians lying and armies killing by the bucketloads, bodies cheaper by the dozen, all the petty crooks and killers gone wholesale genocidal at the sign of national boundary lines, since what’s over there must be antithetical to our interests, by definition, or they’d be over here…

And if you think that, inspired by Buddhism, I’m advocating limits, however voluntary, on all human activity, then you’d be right, for the following reasons, but not limited to them. Oh, I don’t know. let me think: So maybe you’ll forego your aggression, once you realize it’ll do you no good, anyway? So maybe you’ll forego your ambition, at least until you’ve decided whether that ambition leads to a sustainable future? So maybe you’ll forego your ego, in favor of something better? So before you call Buddhism pessimistic, you might want to review your own priorities…