Sunday, February 3, 2013
Serious Fun versus Having Fun Being Serious
A question that's been in the back of my mind in recent months concerns the difference between serious fun and having fun being serious. I think the difference between the two can help determine whether the way each of us lives life is via 'will power' (asceticism) or 'wisdom power' (the way that the Buddha taught).
By suggesting we have small desires I don't think Buddha meant that people shouldn't have fun. Rather I think he meant we should live in such a way that desires don't get so big that they're unattainable. Desires and goals never end up being what they're cracked up to be anyway, even if we attain them. It's better to do what we can to appreciate the present moment.
From what I've observed, when people approach life from an ascetic perspective, 'fun' runs the risk of being of the binge variety and risks causing headaches and other damage. In other words, it's not fun. Unless bragging rights, ego aggrandizement, and following in other people's footsteps is what qualifies as fun. For myself, I can say it's not.
Speaking for myself, even though I believe in wisdom power and would prefer to live my life that way, I think I've spent much of my life living from an ascetic perspective. It's what I was taught. Plus, since my intelligence is less of the classical variety and rather something else that is less readily measured I've had to work harder than most to get to where I was in life. When combined with the fact that I tend to drop off my own views and be overly patient with people, I think I've lost my sense of what 'fun' is, which is a strange feeling. These days I even have a difficult time determining whether people are kidding around or being serious.
Which approach is more beneficial and easier to learn from? Whether in the elementary school classroom or in college, teachers know that students learn more readily when having fun in the process. Comedians of today and court jesters of ancient times are and were able to point to partial, if exaggerated, truths that others could not. (As an aside, I wonder how many court jesters of ancient times lost their heads?)
What is fun? For myself, I can say that these days sitting and staring at a wall or going for a walk are as much fun as anything else. Although I will say that too much of anything is liable not to be fun -- which is another way of looking at what Buddha may have intended with 'small desire'.
One way or another, life goes on.