My mind is calm. My blood boils. I don’t know when it changed. I don’t know what changed. This mind used to be scattered. The container was composed.
The more the world makes sense, the less I have to say about it. The less I suffer, the less I feel the need to write. There is truth between words, a gap rich in texture, profound in its vastness. My body is a complex machine — a solution when it thinks, a weapon when it moves, a gift when it loves. This body wants to live that truth. It does live that truth. But it also lives here, in this ether, a place close to nowhere, sitting in front of a screen, writing words, erasing words, wanting to say something, wanting to express something, but something is nothing in particular.
Thought is for problem-solving. Problem-solving has its root in pain. Pain is the source of growth, which means that problem-solving is growth. But what if there is no problem? What if there are only moods and emotions and the complex dance they do with the language that creates our imaginary concept of self? What if the true self is just our body and its accumulation of the different sensations that it has stored over the course of the years we call life? And what if life is just a game of taking those stored sensations and projecting them onto nature as art and technology and science and culture and philosophy and that strange, nebulous thing we call happiness?
The Buddha claimed that the root of all suffering is desire. Nietzsche thought that the Buddha was a nihilist. To live is to desire and to desire is to affirm the existence of life along with the suffering. Amor Fati. Love of fate, he called it.
Pain and suffering are different. Pain is a sensation. Suffering is a narrative. Pain is objective. Suffering is subjective. Pain is biology. Suffering is literature. Pain can exist without desire. Suffering is a product of desire. The Buddha became a living God by seeing the present as it is, by seeing pain as it is. Nietzsche became a prophet by telling a story about the future, by embracing the complex beauty of suffering.
When I fuck, I feel powerful. When I love, I feel connected. Fucking and power are expressions of desire, of fleeting pleasure, of suffering, of trying to contain and control and capture something that can never quite be contained and controlled and captured. It is about more: better: stronger. Love and connection are mastery of desire, of pain, of accepting and acknowledging and adhering to what is, as it is, right then, right there, nothing more, nothing less. It is about trust: compassion: wisdom. The same power that is involved in fucking is what drives ambition and imagination and the future. It’s desire subjectified and projected into the objective world. The same connection that is involved in love is what creates joy and satisfaction and the present. It’s desire objectified and the experience of that shared with the subjective world.
A human is a biological beast cursed with the ability to contemplate the metaphysical, endowed with the capacity to overcome itself with both motion and stillness. Becoming and being. Nietzsche and Buddha. Growth and peace. Power and love.
The self: a boundary that separates me from the rest of the world — a changing linguistic model through which I experience reality — a web of emotions solidified with words, hung on the nails of my values. Both power and love interact with this self. When I master the self with power, I move, I become, I grow. I channel desire to sidestep fear. Power forces the self into a new form, a more solid form until the final form is immortalized as a name in history or as a physical creation. It is the defiance of death. When I overcome the self with love, I am still, engorged in a moment, at peace. Because I don’t desire, I am also fearless. Love transcends the self, radiating outward, without wanting, without asking, only giving. It is the acceptance of death.
The future has infinite potential. When I look at history, I see bloodshed. I see violence. I see how deeply ingrained they are in our nature. I see that suffering is unavoidable if we are to live in the material world. But I also see progress. I see hope. I see the arc of morality. I see how it reduces violence. We do learn. We do get better. The way we suffer changes. What we desire becomes more interesting, more meaningful. We often regress, and we might again soon, but the collective culture evolves, and as long as it carries some light, it will continue to move forward. Power is what drives this momentum. It dares to imagine a better world, and it does the work to create it — to see how far we can go, to see how much good we can do, to ask more of the individual and the collective.
The present is timeless. When I meditate, I can quieten my mind. I can see that there is nothing I need, nothing I want, nothing I have to be, nothing I want to be. It is enough. I am enough. The world is enough. Everything is impermanent. Everything falls apart. From this state of elementary wisdom, I feel compassion. I want others to see the same truth for themselves. I want them to pause, to stop running, to wait. I want them to ask better questions, and I want them to let go, and I want them to trust themselves. Love is the source of this concern. It sees past the illusions, and it wishes that everybody else could, too — that they could see that they already have all they need, that the world will take care of itself if they care of themselves, that there is a gift waiting on the inside.
Power and love are at odds with each other. When I harness one, I temporarily slip away from the other. Power is control. Love is surrender. You can have too much power. You can never have too much love. But love without power runs out of steam, so you can’t have sustained love without power, either. There is no civilization without power, and there is no morality without love.
Outside or inside? This world or that world? The Buddha escaped suffering by leaving the realm of mortals, the world of material desires. He left behind all attachments. The growth of civilization meant little to him. Cultural creativity was of no concern. Family lost its meaning. The middle way was the only way. But isn’t it true, as Nietzsche argued, that such an attachment to non-attachment is itself a form of nihilism? That denying suffering in this world denies a very core part of our existence? That even if everything is impermanent, the hope of desire can still have a place?
All great mysteries get beaten down by logical paradoxes. Reality is not an either/or. It is a synthesis of conflicts. I am everything, yet I am nothing. There are no absolute answers, just like there is no absolute certainty. The only answer is that there are many answers, and the only certainty is that we are swimming in uncertainty. What we have are statements and the different angles that these statements can be seen from.
Power is the acceptance of suffering. Love is the absence of suffering. Power masters the self. Love overcomes the self. Power seeks to impact the material world into the far future. Love is content just to be, just to give, where it is, without concerning itself beyond what is immediate. So: Is happiness the acceptance or the absence of suffering? Well. That’s for you to decide.