Before going to Bhutan, I thought my quest for happiness was incompatible with the teachings of Buddha. I still enjoy smut and establishments of ill repute (see Since I cannot personally go to SE Asia with Mikey and show him the ladyboy bars in Bangkok…). I thought that zen masters had reached a higher level of consciousness whereby pleasures of the flesh are superficial and that those, like myself, that live in a dark underbelly of humanity were forever lost and eternally irredeemable.
“Give me shot!”, “Give me a line!”, “Give me a punch to the face!” I need something to feel alive. How else can I explain my erratic behavior? How can I know happiness if I’m never sad? How can I feel alive unless I’m on a hangover deathbed from bad choices?
As it turns out, Buddhism accounts for the weaknesses of man. The Wheel of Life explains the Buddhist teachings:
- The pig, rooster and snake in the hub of the wheel represent the three poisons of ignorance, attachment and aversion.
- The second layer represents karma.
- The third layer represents the six realms of Samsara.
- The fourth layer represents the twelve links of dependent origination.
- The fierce figure holding the wheel represents impermanence. It is also Yama, the god of death.
- The moon above the wheel represents liberation from Samsara or cyclic existence.
- The Buddha pointing to the white circle indicates that liberation is possible.
There’s a realism to Buddhist teachings, an authenticity that comes from accepting the inevitability of extreme behaviors manifesting themselves while nevertheless providing another opportunity for redemption, an opportunity for liberation.
My happiness comes from the pursuit of happiness. When I finally get it, whether consciously or unconsciously, I sabotage it if for no other reason than to find it again. That for me is the teaching of Buddha. That to me is happiness. That to me is the point of life.