Buddhism and the Fleshly Prison of the Body

Solitary confinement is not torture, if it’s voluntary. Then it’s meditation, a retreat, renunciation. And if this is one of the messages of Buddhism, then let it be known that many religious and philosophical traditions make the case that the body is a prison of sorts. But this is the ultimate irony, is it not (?), that pleasure and pain are but conditioned reflexes, conditioned by culture and sanctioned by nature, such that one man’s torture is another man’s enlightenment, solitary confinement (presumably in prison) and meditation (presumably alone, silent and with no material rewards) are, on the surface, quite similar, differing only in the expectations, and the nature of rewards offered, accepted, and acknowledged. Because if you’re looking for money or street cred or hot nights in a cold crib, then meditation is not your best option. You’d do better out on Sunset Drive after dark with a fistful of dollars and a pocketful of tissues. Whatever you’re packing, it won’t be enough, though, because that is the nature of craving, lust and desire, whether for meat, onions, or sex. It’s never enough, because the sliding scale of satisfaction constantly resets the top dead center of zero, from which all further measurements are calibrated. So it’s like the Asian schoolboy addicted to spicy food who adds hot sauce, to his taste, in a fresh bowl of noodles. The only problem is that after five minutes, it doesn’t taste spicy anymore, because the new standard of ‘normalcy’ has slid up the scale of spiciness, already. So what do you do? You add more hot spicy stuff, of course, and so on and so on, adding more and more beyond all reason, even though your body knows exactly what’s going on, and will protest on the morrow. And if this sounds like a frivolous example, then I assure you that it’s not so frivolous when the ‘spice’ in question is heroin, and the sliding scale of normalcy is tolerance to a drug that cares nothing about your feelings. So people die every year chasing a feeling that will kill regardless of how you feel. So some feelings are best avoided, especially those that are destructive to yourself, or others, generally measured by their hardness, not their softness. There should be no hard feelings. There is no time for that, too much work and too little gain. Life goes too quickly for quibbling over the details of a desire best left unrequited…