One day I asked myself an important question “Why do I want what I want?”.
Whenever I wanted something, I almost took granted that I am justified in wanting and pursuing it. I explored the world to find fulfillment. However rarely I had explored the intricate world of my desires.
And I thought the story of Tao.
Tao is a person just like you and me. When the story starts, Tao is living in the land of normal people. He is just living normal life. His rating for the world as interesting place to live is 5 on the scale of 1 to 10. 10 is heaven, 1 is hell.
Tao lives in a civilized society, but Tao harbors wild desires in his mind. Desires to have sex with women without their consent. Desires to just overpower people and rob their money. Desires to kill the people he does not like.
Tao’s mind turns in evil machine. One day Tao finds a beautiful woman alone in corner and rapes her. He is prosecuted, but there is not enough evidence. Judge asks him, “Do you want to confess?”
Tao thinks about his options. If he confesses, he has to go to jail. That means wild people, bad food, confinement. If he denies the charge, he walks free. That means free society, good food, no confinement.
Tao lies and says he is innocent.
Next day Tao robs another person.
Again arrest and prosecution. Again not enough evidence. Again Tao refuses to speak the truth and avoids punishment.
Now Tao is so happy. This seems like a good world. You can get everything and do not have to pay for anything. Tao rates the world as 10 , the most interesting place to live.
But now Tao wants more because he thinks he can have more. If the world improved from 5 to 10 in last few years, why should it not improve from 10 to 15? He asks a wise man “How to get more of what I want?”
“You have to be in company of people who think like you” the wise one answers back.
Tao logs on Internet and finds about land of wild people. He boards a boat and lands in the land of wild people. At the first moment, he sees a beautiful woman. He looks around to make sure no cops are in sight. Suddenly he remembers reading that there are no cops in the land of wild people. “Perfect” he smiles to himself and grabs and rapes the woman. “Don’t even have to worry about cops here. What the nice place this world is.” He does his evil routine.
Whistling, he is walking on the street. Couldn’t have been happier.
Suddenly his eyes are covered by somebody’s hand. He is overpowered.
Next thing he knows is he is raped, robbed and beaten.
Lying in dust, he is shocked. He never experienced something so demeaning to human body. Nobody told him anything about this. He was never expecting to get raped.
He blames God. He rates the world, as -10.
The story does not end. In fact the story never ends. Sorry, let me correct. The story does not end unless Tao wants it to end.
Let us take a look at what happens when the story takes another turn.
Variation number 2:
When he is asked to confess his crime, Tao thinks “what is right thing to do?”
His mind answers “Right thing to do is take the punishment”
Tao takes the punishment. He goes in jail, where people rape him, rob him and beat him. Tao comes out of jail. He still wants to be wild. But he knows a lot more about being wild. He does not need to look up on Internet. He knows exactly where is the land of wild people.
He also rates the world as 5.
He goes to the land of wild people. He has fun robbing, raping and beating others. And one day comes his turn. He is robbed and raped and beaten. He lies in dust.
He gets up and walks away. He was never expecting NOT to get beaten, robbed or raped.
Variation number 3:
Tao is still practicing wild desires in the world of normal people, still avoiding punishment. One day Tao goes for cut. A memory cut. People get a choice to decide what memories to keep and what to get rid of. To start fresh life, people get rid of memories but keep desires. Because growing desires from scratch is a lot of work.
Tao takes memory cut. Now he does not remember anything in the past. He still has wild desires. He reads about land of wild people on Internet and takes a boat there. This time, right on the first step, he gets insulted, beaten, robbed.
He lies in dust cursing God. “This is unbelievable. How could this happen to me? What have I done wrong? I don’t remember anything that makes me deserve such atrocities”
Variation number 4:
Same as story number 3 above. But this time Tao has taken his punishment before going for memory cut. He still retains his desires, but now he is not wild about “wild” world, but knows how to live there in case he lands there.
And eventually when he lands there, he does not expect NOT to get raped, beaten or robbed.
The story explains in oversimplified terms how the balance and equilibrium between Tao and the world is maintained without any enforcer. Tao chooses conditioning his mind receives and also he chooses the company he wants to keep. If he walks in wild society with a mind conditioned in civilized society, he finds big surprises and extreme drama in this world. If he walks in wild society with his mind conditioned for wild society, he finds harmony and balance and peace of mind even in the midst of hell.
The story creates basis for my further interrogation of the question ‘Why do we want what we want”? Why does Tao want what he wants? For one moment let us keep aside the debate of free will and consider what we want or at least the part of it, our will, has to do with what we are doing.
Tao wants material pleasures. He wants gratification. That is no problem, till he starts wanting things that are essentially in conflict with each other. He wants honor and respect in civilized society without caring to reciprocate those gestures. He wants to think that such a thing is possible and sustainable. From such confusion he eventually finds himself in a situation where he cannot get all what he wants. He creates kind of lose-lose situation for himself.
Next time you find yourself in a situation where you did not have enough good choices, do not blame the world for putting you in trouble. Instead ask yourself how did you end up wanting more than this situation has to offer.