Samsara is cyclic existence – the continual manipulation of form in an attempt to achieve lasting success and satisfaction. We experience samsara as unsatisfying, because success and satisfaction can only exist in the moment. There can be no lasting and continuous satisfaction that abides independent of its cause and perceiver. The very meaning of ‘success’ is open to interpretation. One person’s success may be another’s failure. One person’s pride in accomplishment may be regarded as a waste of time by another. Our achievements are relative and transient.
When I was five I thought that the most enjoyable way to occupy my time was dressing my doll in her beautiful bride’s outfit. I would not regard this occupation as satisfying today! Some people love to lie in the sun for hours on end and regard acquiring a tan as a success, while others regard this as a waste of of time or even as foolishly dangerous. Every occupation has its own purpose and potential for satisfaction in the moment dependent upon the perceiver. Dissatisfaction arises when we require the verification of others as to the value of our experience, and when we seek to define ourselves through satisfaction.
In this chapter we have looked at the cause of our experience of dissatisfaction, and discovered that it is self-created. Realising that dissatisfaction is self-created, it occurs to us that we could cease this creation. Once we truly comprehend at a gut level that this is the essence of samsara—that continuing to shuffle the pieces of our lives is hollow, and that the transient achievements of samsara are ultimately worthless—we can decide to stop. We can decide that we wish to discover purpose and meaning. We can wish to engage with our lives in a way that will bring complete and lasting satisfaction. This is practice – engagement with a spiritual path that brings purpose and satisfaction to our lives.
The methods offered by Buddhism provide opportunities to discover, through sparkling presence, that each moment naturally has its own purpose of itself, that arises and dissolves in the moment. The methods of Buddhism can teach us to dwell in presence, understanding the empty quality of form and the form quality of emptiness in the present moment. Then all moments can be realised as moments of utter blissful satisfaction.