Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 24

It's my last Saturday as a Jain. My wife and I were going to go to a water park, but when the entire population of Seoul and the surrounding province also realizes that the rainy season is coming to an end, that makes for hellish traffic and even worse lines. I had a student who went to one of them last week and he said that he waited for two hours to take one of the slides. I asked him why he did that.
"I was with a girl and she wanted to ride it, so I had to wait," he told me.
Typical. I'd do the same thing for my wife, though. Part of becoming a Buddhist and Jain has been learning the value of patience. We have to embrace patience and its tests with enthusiasm, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm shocked adults actually wait that long for something as pointless as a slide or a roller coaster. As a child, we don't know the value of time, so wasting it didn't seem like it was much of a problem. And I'm very well aware that when I have children, my wife and I are going to have to endure hours and hours of mind-numbing queuing just so our children can feel excitement for thirty seconds. 

Still, why do adults do it? 

After all, you're not learning anything from it, nor is it a new experience that could change you in any profound way. Aside from masturbation, drugs and alcohol, I think the thrill people seek from roller coasters and water parks is one of the highest forms of self-gratification we can find. And in some respects, it's worse because we waste so much time in preparation. Jain take:
The self is known with difficulty; having known it, it is difficult to constantly bear it in mind; for the man who does so bear it in mind, it is difficult to refrain from sense gratification.
I know my self well enough to know that the thrill I get from riding a roller coaster does not outweigh the time lost waiting for it.
So long as a man does not know the self, he indulges in sense gratification; the yogi, averse from sense gratification, knows the self. 
Alright, but I know my self, yet would still go and waste all that time if my wife wanted to go. I won't lie and say that I am totally averse to sense gratification that I get from drop tower rides and even if I were, is it wrong that I want to allow my wife to enjoy it?
Some men knowing the self are forgetful of their true nature and wander about in the four states of existence; fools engrossed in sense-gratification.   
I guess this is me. I know my self and still choose to do my best for my wife which, in some way, is gratifyingly satisfying. 

What I'm getting at is that sometimes, we can't follow the path. Life presents itself in many different lights and creates all sorts of obstacles that are impossible to avoid. Next week, my wife's cousins are coming in town and they want to go to an amusement park. Next weekend also happens to be the start of the unofficial vacation week in Korea. Everyone will be at Lotte World and that includes me.

What are my options though? 

1) Complain that these children are being too sense gratifying and suggest we all do yoga instead?

2) Pay for them to go with my wife while I stay at home doing something less gratifying?

3) Go, but sit down and read scripture the whole time?

4) Wait in line with the kids, but skip out just before it's my turn so as to avoid gratification?

5) Go with the kids, wait in line with them and ride with them because that's what a good husband does for his wife and her family?

It's not a hard decision, but where does one draw the line between loyalty to others and the liberation of ones soul? My student ended up having a horrible time at that water park and he  now regrets going. Would he have regretted NOT going even more?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, regrets about waiting in lines? Time lost?? What about sitting in trees? Who determines what is a waste of time?