Shantideva, an 8th Century Buddhist monastic, in commenting upon the constancy of human suffering stated:

For beings long to free themselves from misery,
But misery itself they follow and pursue.
They long for joy, but in their ignorance
Destroy it, as they would their foe.

I am reminded of the continued applicability of his insights by the myriad contradictions around us. Consider the nations that are beset by climate catastrophes, while presently doubling their efforts to extract coal and oil from the Earth. Further, there are societies where democratic institutions are upheld as the bedrock of human freedom, whilst policy makers busy themselves eroding their foundations in order to usher in authoritarianism.

Sadly, such contradictions do not only exist on the level of the state, but also manifest themselves in our personal lives where many people act in a manner contrary to professed ideals and dismiss the apparent contradictions. In each of these instances, as Shantideva said people pursue misery with predictable results.

On the determined pursuit of suffering

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