Monday, July 21, 2008

Money can't buy you everything

PorcheI was driving into work today, and suddenly run into a traffic jam. We inched forward, and eventually I could see cars signalling to pull across into the right hand land. Clearly there's a car ahead, probably an accident, I thought. When I got alongside it was a Porche, with the driver down on his hands and knees, wheel off, and looking under his car. The car was parked half across the lane, with cars trying to get around him and his stricken vehicle.

Through my mind passed the thought - "doesn't matter how much money you have, you can't buy 'luck' .... you can't ensure that everything will go smoothly in life, no suffering, nothing guaranteed to break down, etc, etc". All fair enough, you might think.

And yet, in the back of my mind, as it were, I felt a quiet sense of satisfaction, that someone with tons of money had been 'brought down' by life, and that somehow I felt better as a result of his suffering.

Not the most noble of thoughts, I'm sure you'll agree. Interesting finding that little gem lurking in the shadows, hidden pretty much from view by my more 'Dharmic' reflection on how none of the things people go after in life as 'refuges' would keep you away from impermanence or uncertainty.

Interesting ... and one which made me smile, in a way.

Why on earth would one get a sense of satisfaction out of another's sufferings?

What a strange thing. Hmm .... one to watch as it arises next time, to perhaps see a little more clearly how such a thing works ...?????


Anonymous said...

This is a great post.

Always interesting when you run across something that you didn't realize was actually still there.

Buddhist_philosopher said...

The germans have a word for that, schadenfreude. It means the happiness gained in seeing the misery of others. And some psychologists actually count it as a 'real' form of happiness - though I don't know much about that and definitely agree that, from a Buddhist perspective, it's not skillful. :)

I think it can be countered by meditations on interconnectedness - his suffering finds its way to us all in some way eventually; and on no-self - his suffering IS my suffering. Not to mention karuna (compassion), the desire to alleviate the suffering of others.

A very good post though, truly something we all face from time to time.