Desires exist to imprison and torture you. The more you get hooked to them, the more they will serve to torture you. This happens especially to people who are very powerful, because their ego gets caught up in abstract notions that are then turned against them. Trump took pride in his intelligence, in being popular among the hip crowd. He lost all of that.
Musk takes great pride in being seen as a great businessman, in being popular and cool. So inevitably, he has to watch as Twitter is abandoned in droves. It can’t end in any other way than spending 44 billion dollar on a social media network that becomes worthless within two years. Power is used, to set people up for humiliation. Humiliation is perhaps the greatest torture, for a social animal like us.
And now you might say, “well they still have their private jets and mistresses and luxury mansions”. Yes, but they learned to take that for granted. The same way you learned to take for granted… the ability to walk. An infant mortality rate below 1%. Tropical fruit imported from around the world. Vacations in the Mediterranean. Sex without the risk of pregnancy. A healthy body, roads that allow you to travel anywhere. Red wine. Not having leprosy.
Whatever you desire, is just going to be used to torture you to the greatest possible extent. And if you think you can get away from it all by simply indulging in the ego, by not thinking about it, by just drowning yourself in wealth and pleasures, by not caring about anyone else or how you are perceived, you’re still going to be tortured.
For some people, the biggest torture is just that growing realization that they’re not a good person. If you ever think someone got away with abusing you, you’re wrong. The one who abused you, has to live with the reality of being abusive.
That’s why the climate activists induce such rage. I see comments on a daily basis, insisting that these jobless losers who are simultaneously spoiled middle class white people should be run over by a truck driver. Many are eagerly awaiting the day they get some video where they’re beaten to a pulp.
Why is that? It’s the same reason you get harassing comments as a vegetarian at a barbecue, even as a ten year old boy. People experience you as a threat to the way they perceive themselves. It causes them pain, to be exposed to you. It would shock you, if you could look into someone else’s head. You’d discover them to be tortured in ways entirely different from you.
A lot of people are unwilling to accept that our actions make the planet uninhabitable. They become trapped, as the planet grows warmer and the younger generations start to resent them more. The guilt begins to invade their brain, their anger at the protesters will grow. The denial won’t go away. They will merely double down. They will forever have new theories and new arguments, why nothing must be done, why we have to continue the transformation of this planet to an inhospitable desert.
Yet others are attached to our planet’s beauty, they are aware of what is happening. For them this becomes their trap. They become attached to every animal, to all the beauty that is taken away from them. They’re angry at those who refuse to see it. And although their desires feel more noble to them, their anger feels more righteous, the outcome is very similar.
Women are a trap too. The desire for women must be the main way to torture a man. The more aware you grow of what goes on in a woman’s mind, the more it serves to torture you. At first as a young man you may be happy to just find a woman who wants to sleep with you anyway, especially if you’re ugly. But the hedonic threadmill will just accelerate.
Look into a woman’s mind and you open yourself up to a terrifying sight. An average young guy may go to the gym, lift weights, buy some nice clothing, eat a lot of meat and then he’ll think “mission accomplished” to himself as he finds some woman willing to sleep with him. But then if he thinks, he’ll realize she was abused when young and developed a masochistic desire, a desire to be disrespected and abused. And rather than feeling genuinely attracted to you, she uses you to process abuse, like some sort of trauma re-exposure therapy.
Bit of a bitter aftertaste, don’t you think? Sorry. This dynamic emerges everywhere. A woman may be attracted to you, because you are her boyfriend’s friend. She may be attracted to you because you are in a position of authority. A woman’s sex drive is destructive. And it’s almost never you that she loves. It is some sort of validation of her power, that she generally loves. But your mind tries to insulate you from this reality.
Of course you can also take a more chaste path. You can marry a woman. She will probably want children. Now you have new trappings in this world. Now you will have to take care of them. You will worry, whether you can afford to take care of them. You may be disappointed, by how they turn out. You will worry about the future they face, on a planet that faces ever growing heatwaves. And you may start to experience your commitment to her as a trap.
If you want to escape the eternal torture chamber, you have to recognize the insulation you are dealing with. I have mentioned this before, but meat is one such insulation. Meat is a very tamasic food. It insulates your mind from observing the world as it really is. As a result, men tend to react with extreme rage whenever they fear it may be taken away from them. Then they have to experience reality as it really is.
There are less potent insulators, like mushrooms, onion and cheese. But meat is the most important insulation. You know this, simply because it displays all the big red glaring warning signals that you ignore. It traps you in desires (its Rajasic quality), while making you blind to reality (its Tamasic quality). The murder of animals should perhaps just be seen as a metaphor from the external world for your mind. An attempt at warning you how karmically bound you become to this world. You can avoid the biggest trappings, simply by a commitment to not being cruel.
And as reality invades a man’s mind, he tends to double down on insulating himself. He eats more and more meat, his belly grows, his prostate grows too, then he finds that all he learned to love in life is taken away, simply by the aging process. He may reach the point where he can’t even go out to socialize, simply because he will pee his pants.
Perhaps the greatest problem faced by most people, is that their attachment, their indulgence in their desires, makes them fear death. They grow attached to their life, which gradually serves to make them more and more afraid of the inevitable end of it.
In contrast to past days, when death would overtake us by surprise, he is now inclined to announce his arrival. He will tell you there are calcified plaques in your blood vessels. He will confront you with the fact that you are becoming forgetful. He will tell you your lung capacity is at 75%, or your kidneys are beginning to fail. And so you will begin negotiating with him: “I will give up meat. I will give up cigarettes.” Your desires are like bricks used to build a prison. You only begin relinquishing them, after the construction of the prison is complete and you are led inside.
He doesn’t overtake you by surprise. Why would he? You became so trapped in the world of desires, that he can now draw out your torture for years. This torture can be all encompassing. People will spend fortunes on experimental treatments, others may simply be too afraid to fall asleep. But by abandoning our desires, the torturer may lose his power to make us fear death.
There isn’t really an obligation to become perfect overnight. The Dharmic religions teach that escape from the torture dungeon is a process that unfolds over many lives. Just as you can substitute very tamasic foods like meat, for less tamasic foods like onion and mushroom, you can substitute the most karmic pleasures for less karmic ones.
In fact, you must be careful to avoid another trap: The desire to escape the torture. The desire to avoid desires, is itself a desire. When you pour a bucket of water over the fire, you will sit in the cold, you will feel proud of yourself. Then you will start to feel very cold, realize you were not ready and struggle to reignite the fire. It is much better to become aware of the fire, of the heat it provides and to accept that it will fade away. Rather than seeking it, allow it to happen to you.
You can gain pleasure, simply from looking at the sky, or from seeing the ants go about their business. This will not trap you and tie you down in this world, the way a private jet, a career, a stash of money, a vacation, a beautiful woman or a potent drug would. And it can offer you pleasures unimaginable to most people. A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
But of course, even the simpler pleasures can be used to torture you, if you cling onto them for too long. You learn to love the insects, but as you grow old, they are disappearing off the face of the Earth, removed by human greed. All the various butterflies you saw as a child are replaced by a handful of species that thrive on stinging nettles. You learn to love the clouds, but the clouds are destroyed by aircraft leaving ugly trails behind.
So was it wrong to love the butterflies? No. It was part of the learning process. What’s wrong is clinging, resisting the process itself. It’s clinging, that gives tools to the torturer. Cling onto wealth, he will use it against you. Never quite obliterating your fortune, never quite satisfying your goals. Cling onto beauty, he will use it against you. Gradually robbing you of your appearance, ever so slightly, having you wonder whether you developed a new wrinkle, never quite sure.
Cling onto even simpler things, he’ll take them away from you too. He’ll take away the clouds, he’ll take away the butterflies. He’ll take away the smell of the forest. It doesn’t matter what you desire. You could desire the most bizarre of things, the most contrary to normal human desires. You could desire a pile of rotting corpses in front of your house. The desire will be used against you somehow.
You must always make sure to stay ahead of him. Do not cling, but allow pleasures to pass through you. If people give out free food at a town square, it is to get you hooked, to get you purchasing it. It is the same thing that the torturer does. But you can accept the gift, you can accept it as transient, as a brief experience.
You could say “no thanks” to them. You’ll think you avoided a temptation. But now you stepped into a different trap. Now you will realize you’ll have to buy food. You will feel stupid. You’ll wonder how the gift you rejected would have tasted. The only way through is to experience, to accept and then to move on, without remaining attached.
When the torturer figures out what’s going on, that you understand what he’s doing, he will probably retreat and rethink his strategy. Then he will show up again, with bigger pleasures to lure you with, to trap you in. Money may invade your life from nowhere, a beautiful woman may show up. And if you cling, he will trap you again. You will go through the process once more.
He’ll invade your mind with envy. There is always going to be someone who is doing better, someone he can confront you with. Someone has a better job, a more beautiful spouse, greater talents, a more beautiful body. But the antidote to that is empathy. There are also people who are stuck in much worse situations. People born deformed. People traumatized by abuse. People whose own minds destroy them. People addicted to drugs that make their daily life a living hell. People everyone had great hopes for, people who had great expectations piled upon them, who can’t live up to them.
There are always people who have to go through worse situations than you. And the torturer attempts to grab your head, he attempts to make you look away from them. Because if you realize how misfortune can be cast upon anyone at any moment for seemingly no reason, it becomes hard to keep you attached to anything. Tsunamis can wipe away entire villages, seemingly healthy companies can go bankrupt overnight, a person’s face can melt off in a fire.
He doesn’t want you to realize this. He wants you to think you are in control, that you have real agency. But you ultimately don’t. You’re always navigating within extremes, extremes that can make all your choices pointless. The methane clathrates can burst free overnight, an aneurysm could annihilate your brain, the government could bankrupt your company. People who organize parties had everything taken away from them in 2020. How could they have prepared for it? How could they have possibly seen it coming? The suicides piled up.
The torturer is a shrewd businessman. He always attempts to offer you the worst possible deal, which is the best possible deal for him. He is like a fisherman, who attempts to catch the biggest possible fish, with the smallest possible bait. How does this work? He signs you up for the greatest possible gifts, then makes you barely conscious of what you got. You’ll have a luxury yacht and never give it second thought.
He tries to extract the greatest possible desire from your brain, with the smallest amounts of happiness. He is signing you up for the greatest possible gifts (paid for in installments, at a high interest rate), while blinding you to what you have. There is just one way out: Become aware of what he is doing. Realize that you are, at every waking moment, negotiating with someone. You are engaged in transactions with someone who knows exactly what he is doing, while you are operating on autopilot.