Buddhists have their “three poisons”; Christians have their “seven deadly sins.” Lust makes both lists, along with anger. But lust is the one that furrows men’s brows and crosses their legs. Our culture assumes that lust is all about the genitals. Yes, lust does involve a preoccupation with sexual pleasure, but it actually infests the entire being, as all sins do. The 16th century author of “The Cloud of Unknowing” writes that lust-driven men have been “seduced by an inordinate love of giving or receiving flattery and by a deep-seated need to be liked.”
The fastest way to stop thinking is to notice nothing. Silence, for example. Or the space between this word and the next. Do this frequently. The mind is thing-addicted. No-thing slaps it silly.
The pursuit of pleasure, whether it’s a needle in the arm or a trip to St. Barts, always takes place against a background of pain. True happiness can only be found inside the self.
What we call ‘ego’ is a mind addicted to thinking. Does it need to be said that thinking about this addiction can only feed the addiction? A higher faculty than thought is required.
My sense of the pandemic is that it’s hastening a shift in the collective consciousness. As those who have emerged from addiction have realized, the good news is first of all bad news.