The fox seemed perplexed and very curious. “On another planet?” “Yes.”
“Are there hunters on that planet?” “No.”
“Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?” “No.”
“Nothing is perfect,” sighed the fox. The little prince, Saint Auxpery.
Some say that this argument is a big fat lie, like organized religion, according to Karl Marx. He pointed out how religion makes a virtue out of the suffering of the oppressed but does absolutely nothing to challenge the status quo.
Groucho Marx, following the same argument, is quoted to have said: “My son, happiness is made out of small things: A small yacht, a small mansion, a small fortune,” and also, “there are things far more important than money, but they cost so much!” Arab tradition states that a dog with money is addressed as “Mr. Dog”, and Quevedo wrote, “Don Money is a powerful gentleman.”
However, Arthur Schopenhauer asserted that “Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become.” Indeed, the greedy heart is never happy and satisfied because it always wants more and more and never is enough.
Moreover, money can not buy the most important things in life. You can get access to some of the highest quality healthcare available in the world, but no-one can buy health. You can pay for sex with the most voluptuous women, and feel momentarily satisfied, but you can’t buy love. You may be able to afford the best beds in the most luxurious hotels and mansions, but you can’t buy sleep. You can travel all around the world, enjoy the most exclusive clubs and theatres, but you can’t buy laughter and happiness. You can purchase male or female companionship, but not a sincere and meaningful friendship.
True happiness cannot be purchased. It is within us. It is basically enjoying every moment, what we do, having fun, and living a good life. It is about appreciating the little things in life, it is about loving your friends and family, and feeling accepted, appreciated, and loved.
Companies spend big money on advertising their products. They try to convince us that happiness is all about having many things, for example, a shiny luxury car or a big house. However, after you purchase your dream house, you will soon discover how much money, effort, and time it requires: condominium fees, property taxes, monthly mortgage payments, property insurance, security, electricity, gas, and water bills, etc. You will have to earn more money, work long hours, perhaps in a job you may hate or dislike. Moreover, cleaning and maintaining a big house is very much time consuming and expensive. Kids and pets don’t make things easier either.
It also happens when we renovate our houses. The fridge breaks down and fixing it is more expensive than buying a new one. So, we go to the supermarket and there it is, a state-of-the-art fridge with a cooling system to make sure humidity levels in the fresh food compartments are low, a tall bottle door rack, separate ice-maker chamber, a touch-screen that will show your Google Mail, Google Calendar, news updates and your Twitter feed, etc. Ah, yes! There is a little problem, the refrigerator is a special sized one.
Not a big deal. We can renovate our kitchen a little. It really needs an upgrade anyway. So we move ahead, and then we realize that some of our furniture and appliances will need to be replaced, too so we can fit the big fridge in. However, later on, when we remove the worktop, it appears to be old and worn. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to update the whole kitchen by installing a new worktop. “Maybe we could change the floor tiles so they are consistent with the rest of the kitchen. Besides, there are a couple of tiles broken, too.” “I suggest you to replace the old cast iron soil pipes for new plastic ones before they start to crack and leak,” a contractor may tell you. “And get sure to install the air conditioning before painting…” So, little by little, like falling dominoes, we ended up having a big house restoration work, far more expensive than we had anticipated.
Another example is weddings. Some couples are worried about so many things (designing and setting up their dream house, the wedding travel arrangements, invitations, wedding dress, floral decoration, protocol, rings and arras, photographer) that they can’t enjoy such a beautiful and significant moment in their lives. It can also be seen on some trips where some people instead of having some days of rest, some fun, and enjoying quality time with their loved ones, they are obsessed with recording life instead of living it and cannot avoid staying connected 24/7.
All great religions have expressed this same idea, albeit in different ways.
The core of Buddhism can be found in the Four Noble Truths that Buddha explained to his five former companions after reaching enlightenment. “Brothers, the second truth is the cause of suffering. Because of ignorance, people cannot see the truth about life, and they become caught in the flames of desire, anger, jealousy, grief, worry, fear, and despair. […] It is this craving which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming”. Suffering is caused by craving, by our continual longing for more and more and the desire for pleasure (not just sexual but all we received through our senses).
“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha: the remainderless fading and cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, and letting go of that very craving.” The third truth teaches the suppression of suffering through the complete destruction of desire.
Finally, the Bible in Acts 20:35 states that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”