Christianity is literally true

Christianity is literally true. By that, the story of Christ in the New Testament is a story that actually happened. If a story has happened before, then it is true. Because the story of Christ happened, it is necessarily true.

Many people confuse the story of Christ with historical events. Not all the events in the New Testament necessarily happened in Jerusalem in the year zero. That doesn’t mean the story isn’t true. Every story in the New Testament is a story that happened, and continues to happen.

The story of Jesus is an archetypal story. That means that it is a typical story – one that happens frequently. Archetypal stories are told as lessons or warnings. They have happened before and are sure to happen again. If your story can end as a tragedy or a comedy, its best to align yourself with the right version. We can learn from archetypal stories because they are symbolic of what is possible, and they are easy to relate to, since we experience similar trials.

Jesus’ story is an archetypal example of the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is the cycle of myth that Joseph Campbell documented. A man takes a risk by stepping into the unknown. He learns to make sense of the unknown, he conquers the fearful while undergoing a transformation of his spirit (becomes wiser), and returns from the unknown stronger and more prepared for the world.

Jesus ventured away from home at a young age. After his baptism, he goes into the desert and fasts for 40 days. He rejects pleasure and temptation during this fast. He then returns to the world to share his knowledge and recommend virtue to others. His teachings were rejected by many people. They didn’t just reject his teachings, they chose to silence him from preaching to those that wanted to listen. He continued to fight for what he most believed in – the spread of virtue. In the end, he was put to death in the most humiliating, extreme way possible. When he rose from the dead, he returned to the world to continue preaching virtue.

Jesus lived this journey that we all experience. We all are called to adventure at different points in our lives. We choose to accept to go into the unknown at some points, and those are the ones that change us. This could be going away to college to develop skills and gain knowledge. This could be a promotion to a new job position where we are initially unfamiliar with the requirements for success. This could be tackling an addiction.

This adventure can destroy us mentally and physically, or we can conquer that which is unknown. We can get fired from the job, fail our classes, and start drinking again. Or, we can excel in the new job and realign ourselves for the next promotion. Either way, we are changed in the process. We acquire new knowledge or skills which allow us to return to the known world better prepared for anything that can happen.

New skills or knowledge is required to return to civilization. Without it, the adventurer is unable to make sense of the unknown, and he is unable to return. If he is unable to return, the unknown either breaks him down until he is left with nothing, or he continues to try to learn and make sense of it. Like Jesus when he rises from the dead – we rise out of the struggle of an addiction or a new job where we are incompetent to a level of mastery over the known world. Our mastery could be over the known world of addiction, the new job, or virtue as a means to eternal joy.

Jesus’ story is both archetypal and significant to all of us, and it is also an extreme example. His story gives an extreme example of every major event that we all experience on our own hero’s journey. He chose the most extreme adventure – one that would seek eternal joy but kill him in the process. Likewise, we choose our adventure, and we face the same obstacles – temptation and fears, that Jesus faced.

In summary, Christianity is literally true. It is true because it happened. The story of Jesus not only happened once, but it happens all the time. It is the story we all go through as we venture into the unknown then acquire knowledge and wisdom to return stronger and more prepared for any events.

Human nature is mostly fixed, though human behavior can be modified via game theoretic incentives

Human nature is mostly fixed. This means that our likes, dislikes, and the things we show attention to are predictable. These qualities don’t vary from person to person, or group to group. Human nature evolved to be this way. Our psychology, which determines our nature, evolved just like any organ or limb in any animal. It evolved to maximize our ability to survive and reproduce.

It is in our want to survive and replicate on a genetic level that leads us to define what feels good, what doesn’t, and what deserves our attention. Basically, we are awarded, psychologically and chemically (by release of hormones that make us feel good), when we do things that move us towards more security and a better chance of survival, or closer to reproducing. The easiest example is sex. Sex feels good because it is a reward for doing what is in our biological interest – reproducing and passing on our genes.

Another example is our taste buds. We are awarded with a taste of sweetness when we bite into an apple. The sweetness tells us that the apple is an edible source of nutrition. We evolved to find apples attractive and also taste good.

Because human nature is largely fixed, we can modify behaviors by appealing to game theoretic incentives. Game theory is the study of mathematical models related to decision making by rational individuals. Game theoretic incentives are incentives that appeal to the rational decision maker.

The rational decision maker in a theoretical game model will make decisions that maximize his ability to survive and reproduce. By understanding the psychological drivers that determine how a human best secures survival and replication, human behavior can be predicted, since we are likely to act in ways that will maximize the two biological desires. Humans can also be incentivized to act in certain ways by playing off of the knowledge of how people are wont to act.

Going back to taste buds, it is possible to employ incentives that prey on our psychology and the wants we evolved to have. For example, we said apples taste good because they are sweet, which suggests that they are nutritious. Processed food companies prey on this behavior by creating very sweet foods that appeal to our taste buds. Our taste buds evolved to tell us what is safe to eat, and to award us when we choose correctly – such as in the case of an attractive and sweet apple. Our taste buds did not evolve to identify when manufactured food takes advantage of the sweet flavor and gives us good feelings without giving us nutrition. That is why people can be trained to return to a food that is extremely unhealthy for them – the chemicals being released in their body are pleasure chemicals. These pleasurable feelings suggest that what the person is doing is good, and that they should do this again.

Human psychology can be manipulated by employing tactics that appeal to our psychology. Positive feedback works better than criticizing faults because it engages pleasurable sensors.

Even sex can be manipulated. Men and women both evolved to find certain characteristics attractive in the other sex. For men, this means an attractive woman is young (fertile), healthy (not fat), and has hips and a butt (can deliver strong children). Women find a man attractive when he is wealthy (resources suggest survivability) and when he is intelligent and able to communicate that intelligence, which suggests that he is reproductively strong. Women wear makeup to make them look younger, clothes that eliminate the appearance of weight, and push the boobs up and their butts out. Men wear expensive watches and boast about their grades or employer. We seek to deceive not because we are bad people, but because we get rewarded for the behavior, which makes us feel not only like we have done no wrong, but that we are actually doing the right thing.

How do we know whether we are being manipulated by others that are preying on our deeply-ingrained nature? We must be objective about the world. We must not let our passions – whether positive or negative, blind us from what we are doing.

In summary, human nature is mostly fixed, because nature tells us what to like, dislike, and show attention to. Human behavior can be modified via game theoretic incentives because:

  • Incentives appeal to our fundamental psychology.
  • We can encourage and discourage behaviors that appeal to our psychology.

 

All humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance

All humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance. Like the positive attributes in humanity, some of this is biological, some of this is because of societal pressures.

We evolved to maximize two outcomes – our own survival and replication. In order to maximize this, we evolved to cooperate socially in order to build up a tribe – a community of people with similar interests that add to the collective strength and efficiencies of the group.

We also evolved to be competitive. We are competitive because we get energized by driving toward something – even if that thing is at the expense of others, and because we are rewarded for winning in competition. Being engaged in a task comes from this drive – this want to succeed. Being engaged in a task focuses the mind. Focus allows us to be present in the moment, which can be used to be productive and accomplish or to have fun.

We are also competitive because we are rewarded for winning in competition. This applies across all games – all opportunities to be competitive, and it applies interpersonally as well as socially. There are winners and losers in life. Some people live longer than others, one guy marries and has children with the hot chick, and one person’s company gets funded and goes on to make billions of dollars. This happens at the expense of others. One guy settles for a woman he sees as less attractive. Another dies early. Employees at one startup work hard for years but get crushed when they don’t get additional funds while a competitor does.

There are psychological rewards for success across any of these games. By “winning” we are given the satisfaction of a job well done. We reap fruits of the hard effort we put in. Accomplishment is a big motivator. It gives us meaning, and reinforces that we are valued by society when we do a good job. This allows to have confidence in what we do, which manifests in mental strength and more confident actions and decision making in the future. This is why positive reinforcement has been proven to be much more effective than negative reinforcement in order to get results.

Likewise, social rewards come in many forms. Socially, we can get public recognition for a job well done – such as our name in the newspaper, a bonus, or a pat on the back. In the sexual market, we are rewarded for being more attractive. If we are best able to communicate our ability to appeal to a woman’s want to survive and replicate, then we can be given access to sexual favors from that woman (or women). It is in this competition that we seek to be better than others. Humans will out-work and out-charm other humans at the expense of other humans.

Another aspect of competition is the jealousy and greed that emerges as a result. When people achieve and reap the rewards society has to offer, we look at them with contempt. It takes a wise man to be unfettered by the success of others. Jealousy is a very natural feeling. Jealousy emerges when we are not being rewarded by society at the rate of others. We become resentful because they pose a threat to our ability to appeal to the other sex, to money and resources, or the status of being a leader in the in-group.

Similar, greed is the obsession of the accumulation of things. This usually comes at the expense of others too. If someone controls wealth and power, they will be rewarded with sex, status, and control over others. These things feel good when they are experienced, and they reward with more material goods, which also feels good. Greed is a reinforcing loop that leads to more greed, which comes at the expense of others.

While jealousy and greed can motivate an individual to build the skills and knowledge necessary to climb a dominance hierarchy to achieve the status and wealth he set out to realize, there are downsides these traits. Jealousy and greed make us wanting of more. They reinforce that we are not good enough, or don’t have enough things, and in doing so make us want. When we want, we are necessarily not content with what we currently have.

Wars and acts of terror happen for these reasons. We feel threatened by another group, or we are greedy for resources that other people have. So, we seek destruction and dominance in order to satisfy our cravings, which can surface at an individual or a societal level.

When we aren’t content with what we currently have, we have two options. We can acquire more (status, things, etc). This is more likely to be chosen by people that are greedy and jealous, because they have been rewarded for their greed and jealousy in the past. The other option is to stop wanting. This requires psychologically detaching ourselves from the wants and needs of a given competition. Most of these competitions are externally pushed onto us. We can reject them, and learn to be happy with what we have.

Finally, human beings are inherently violent because we despise the routine. We hate being bored, and we actively seek things to interrupt what is normal. We get drunk after a good day (or bad day). We change sex positions into something more risqué. We travel somewhere we’ve never been.

If we were given a “perfect society”, where everyone was happy and received what they want and were also rewarded for their efforts, it would not take long for people to destroy the whole system. We would bring the perfect system to ashes because it’s boring. We crave adventure. We crave the disorder that keeps us interested and motivated to learn how to overcome that disorder – to create order out of chaos.

In summary, all humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance because:

  • We are competitive and compete for status and sexual favor.
  • We are jealous, manipulative, and greedy.
  • We despise the routine.

All humans have an inherent drive towards being loving and caring.

All humans have an inherent drive towards being loving and caring. We have a natural want to get along with other humans and to love others, and we are rewarded psychologically and socially when we do this. It makes us feel good when other people feel good, we have greater access to good things like sex, and we can be rewarded in business with more money.

Our genes evolved with distinct goals in mind. These goals shaped the psychology of humans, which manifests in our behavior. These are our primal drivers in life. There are two genetic drivers in life – survive and replicate. Genes, which do not contain the capacity for conscious thought, have a want to survive as long as they can, and to reproduce to ensure the continuity of that gene for generations. As genes work together to build a basic, non-thinking animal, those goals makeup the existence of the species. Even as consciousness develops through the growing brain, the ancient, animalistic part of our brains still have those desires hard-coded into our wiring.

All humans have a primal desire to survive and replicate. To survive means to not die. Our genes want to live as long as possible, and so do humans. We are afraid of death, even though it is natural and inevitable. We worry about the future, we have insecurities, and we get nervous because of the primal want to survive and not die.

A lot of this is biological. We evolved to get along with others. It is in our best interest for survival to be liked by others. To be liked by others is to not be excluded from the group. To be excluded means to have a smaller tribe, and to have a smaller tribe – especially in caveman times, meant to be exposed to more risks such as war by other (larger) tribes, fewer access to resources, and attacks by saber tooth tigers.

We want to replicate. To replicate, we need to have sex and multiply our genes through the production of offspring. To do this, men must have sex with a woman and she must keep his seed. The act is simple. If a man meets a girl in a bar and gets her drunk and has sex with her, his work is done. He is partly incentivized, psychologically, to do that. That’s why the act feels good. However, is also disincentivized from that have sex and never see her again behavior.

If a man leaves the woman he impregnates, he faces consequences from the law through child support payments and alimony. Even if those consequences weren’t enforced by the law, he would still face ostracization from his tribe – from his local community. To leave the woman with the responsibility is to be dishonorable on both an individual level, and on a communal level. He will not be trusted in the community and, from that, unable to participate in the local economy, unable to date or have sex with other women, and unable to maintain relationships with men. In this way, people are self-policing. One person can inflict harm, but he will be ostracized from his community and will have to establish himself somewhere else. It’s much easier and more beneficial to be a good person – and humans tend to like doing the easiest thing.

We enjoy when others are happy. Not only does companionship increase the strength of our local tribe in times of war, but we actually get a positive hormonal kick when we recognize that someone else is happy. A rising tide lifts all boats. We are rewarded, chemically, for making others feel good or, simply, by others feeling good. But, when others aren’t feeling good, we are rewarded for showing sympathy and care in order to change their mood and get them feeling good again.

This is why we have fun when we go to bars and parks to interact in a positive way with others. We enjoy when others are positive and happy, so we go to places that encourage that behavior. It’s “fun” to go to these places and see and be a part of people laughing, dancing, and sharing in common experience. Many times, the shared, common experience is reflecting on a work day where everyone hates their boss or traffic or the local football team’s rival that won the game on Sunday and beat the point spread. Even when the common experience is negative, it still brings people together to relate to each other and show sympathy for the common situation. We call it “happy hour” even when we say nothing happy at all.

Humans are rewarded in the economy when we get along and consider the care of others. This manifests in a couple ways. One, when we are trusted by others, others are more likely to do business with us and transact their goods and services for our own. In caveman days, that could be the initial segregation of duties. I’ll kill a bear for food, you build me a place to live. This economy only works if people trust each other. The economy in 2018 is built on trust also, it’s just less in-your-face. But we don’t return to businesses that we don’t trust. We don’t visit businesses with one star on Yelp, and we don’t visit businesses our best friend said stinks, because we don’t trust them.

The second economic incentive to love and care for others is that if we understand and have empathy for the wants and needs of others, then we can provide products or services to fulfill those wants and needs. We will be rewarded in the market for having empathy and the creativity to solve problems that others have. If many people share that problem, you can turn a profit. Even if only one person has the problem that you were able to solve, you did a good thing.

In summary, all humans have an inherent drive towards being loving and caring. This is because:

  • It is in our survival best interest because a tribe will defend us.
  • We feel good, physically, when others are happy.
  • We can be trusted in business transaction.

 

Buddhism and Christianity

Buddhism and Christianity are closely linked. Deep Eastern philosophy and classic Western philosophy agree on the same core values.

So, too, do many great books. Those of Homer and Virgil and Shakespeare. Apparently. I haven’t read them yet.

The primary thing they agree on – do not give in to pleasure. Pleasure is the root of all evil. All suffering.

From pleasure we see the deadly sins emerge. Lust of the pleasure of women. Gluttony of the pleasure of food and drink. And five other sins.

Pleasure is at the root of the commandments. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in killing someone, even if your life would be more enjoyable. More pleasurable.

In fact the devil, the tempter, represents the temptation to simple pleasure. The forbidden fruit, the mana in the desert.

In Buddhism, we learn pleasure is the root of all suffering, and that this suffering is inherent in all humans. In psychology, Buddhism is validated.

All disciplines are connected. Even different philosophies.

In psychology, we learn that the brain evolved to seek pleasure in order to fulfill two animalistic functions: survival and replication.

The modern world feeds on this evolution. It takes advantage of the evolution of the brain. It takes advantage of natural selection. Of our base nature.

We are sold candy which appeals for the same reason fruit of a tree appealed – its sweetness was once a sign of nutrition. Today that sweetness is replicated with processed sugars to give us pleasure.

Sex is awesome and has more obvious survival and replication implications. You either had sex or your genes didn’t replicate and your bloodline thinned and your tribe became smaller and weaker and more threatened by other tribes.

Sex, even the natural act that precedes replication, can be abused.

It is in the search of these pleasures that we find ourselves removed from the moment and we, according to the Buddha, suffer. We are living in the future. Being hopeful of things to change.

Buddhism says to eliminate the need to want pleasure. Buddhism teaches us that this can be reached by meditating. When we meditate, we learn to focus. We focus our thoughts and eliminate being subject to feelings, thoughts, and behaviors we don’t want.

The Bible also teaches us to not seek pleasure. Not just in the commandments, but in the imitation of Jesus. Jesus was repeatedly tempted with pleasure by the devil, which he rejected.

Eve ate the apple god forbid because it was the most attractive. She gave in to pleasure and lived her life in shame.

Now, one doesn’t have to live in shame because they chose pleasure once in their life. But it is shameful to always be needing a high – whether drugs, alcohol, food, or sex.

This chase of pleasure is shameful because it’s enslaving. Needing pleasure is voluntarily submitting to that pleasure and the need of that pleasure.

To be free, one must reject pleasure.

Pleasure is a powerful force with powerful bounds. Those bounds become stronger when pleasure is given into.

Psychology tells us the brain rewards pleasure. We are likely to repeat what is pleasurable, since it feels better than not pleasure.

If a caveman ate a fruit and didn’t die of poison, he was likely to return and eat that fruit. He was rewarded with nutrients which reinforce that he should be eating the fruit.

So, too, the pleasures today encourage us to return. Only now there are billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores that throw pleasure at you.

If one follows the Buddha and Jesus’ example, he will see that the billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores are only offering to tighten your own shackles.

At least, according to the Bible, Buddha, psychology, and me.

BITCOIN PROVES THAT THE “GLASS CEILING” KEEPING WOMEN DOWN IS A MYTH

This was originally posted at Return of Kings here: (link to article).

Bitcoin is further evidence that the “glass ceiling,” the idea that women are kept from reaching the ranks in corporations and in financial success because of a nebulous “patriarchy,” is nonsense.

Economists have disproved the glass ceiling on more than one occasion in the past, so the more well-read will not be shocked by this. Yet, the existence of the glass ceiling has remained a major talking point for feminists. The silence of feminists during the rise of Bitcoin has been deafening.

Bitcoin is an interesting case study because it is modern and doesn’t have the excuses that you hear when the glass ceiling argument breaks out. There is no Bitcoin establishment or “old boys’ club,” because Bitcoin has no establishment. Bitcoin is hardly established, and there is no one central authority.

Feminists claim that “institutions have always had biases” and “it’s a man’s game,” but Bitcoin didn’t come with any biases. It didn’t come with anything. It was nothing ten years ago, and its meteoric growth is well-known.

Bitcoin was created in 2009, a time where women had established themselves in various industries, most notably tech (see: Meg Whitman, Sheryl Sandberg). Nine years later, only three percent (at most) of Bitcoin use (suggested through Bitcoin community engagement) is by women.

Is this the patriarchy keeping women from investing? No. There is nothing that stops women from investing in Bitcoin. Women don’t even need to go to banks to introduce an intermediary which could discriminate against them.

So why aren’t more women investing in Bitcoin? There are a number of reasons for this.

1. Bitcoin is Boring

There are no emotions involved in cryptocurrency investing. Women are more likely to get involved in areas that stir their emotions, from the social sciences to humanitarian work to political rallies.

Bitcoin is mathematical. It was created with a white paper and some computer programming. Since more women take up studies in the arts or humanities than math, it is more difficult to understand the concept and takes more work.

Also, because women prefer soft subjects to hard ones, women end up in jobs related to the arts and humanities versus the hard sciences. They will be more likely surrounded by men and mostly women that also did not study math and computer science and will not be interested in—or understand—Bitcoin.

In addition, Bitcoin isn’t tangible. You can’t feel it in your hands, so you cannot wave it around to boost or lower your status without hopping on a male-centric Reddit page (HODL!!). This reduces the emotional connection to it because there is no physical thing to attach a feeling to. Where money can be a sign of prosperity or options, the numbers in a bit wallet are less tangible.

2. There Is A Lot Of Risk

Women generally value security and strength, which we have seen in relationship dynamics and the number of careers chosen as opposed to entrepreneurs. Men are more willing to take chances.

One of Bitcoin’s tenets is that it is less risky than fiat dollars because it is not subject to inflation and to crumbling governments, so it should be more stable. However, Bitcoin is still young and has a wildly fluctuating value. It is this perceived value that people see as risky, not the idea. It is these wild fluctuations in value that appeal to men.

Bitcoin is also a long-term investment. Bitcoin believers believe the cryptocurrency will be more durable than fiat and will be a superior currency. Women are much more likely to spend and distribute wealth than to build it through investing.

3. Bitcoin Is Competitive

Men eat what we kill. We evolved to eat the animals we hunted, and we still do that in the modern economy. In a tribal setting, the man that hunted the most for his tribe was rewarded with more power and more women to bang. We evolved to be competitive and to fight for the top spot.

These days, men are more likely to participate in sports and more likely to try new things to get ahead (see here). Bitcoin is competitive with other cryptocurrencies as people (men) race to market and grow their currency of choice. Bitcoin is also competitive as a store of wealth. The more men own, the more men can use our primal brains to associate with power and sex.

These are the reasons why only three percent of Bitcoin users—a completely decentralized, open world without bias—are women. These are the same reasons that men make more money than women in the workplace. It isn’t the patriarchy. It’s the evolutionary and behavioral differences in men and women that decide the numbers.

Men are competitive, find freedom in long-term wealth, and are more excited about new ideas and a new, selfish way to increase wealth. At least, more than women.

Badass Buddha

I wrote the following essay for a homework assignment for a class called “Buddhism and Modern Psychology” on Coursera. It’s taught by Robert Wright, evolutionary psychologist an author of The Moral Animal, which is a great book and I recommend if you’re interested in learning more of evo psych.


 

Badass Buddha

According to the Buddha, suffering is part of the human existence. The first two Noble Truths of Buddhism spell out that suffering is not only found everywhere around us – it is a part of us. The first truth, dukkha, tells us that suffering is a lack of satisfaction and that pleasures are fleeting and are therefore not a path to lasting satisfaction. The second truth is that because pleasure is fleeting, we cling to these pleasures as our source of satisfaction. We chase their return. I agree with the Buddha that suffering is part of the human existence, and I will give two examples to show this.

The first example comes from principles in evolutionary psychology. We did not evolve to not suffer. Not suffering was never a goal in evolution. Instead, we evolved to survive and replicate. The traits we developed are in some way related to our evolved need to accomplish these two goals. According to Professor Wright in the lectures, feelings of pleasure are among the traits that developed to incentivize people (and our animal ancestors) to survive and replicate. For example, we describe food (survival) as “tasting good” and sex (replication) as “awesome.”  

Natural selection doesn’t care if you are happy. If we must suffer in order to accomplish natural selection’s goal of surviving and replicating, then that is still the priority of natural selection. According to evolutionary psychology, it is this natural selection that drives our psychology. When natural selection is what drives psychology, then our default behavior will be whatever most increases our likelihood to survive and reproduce. This is what Professor Wright meant when he said that Buddhism is a “rebellion against natural selection” – Buddhism seeks to end suffering, and that can only be accomplished by not giving in to urges that we are designed to feel.

My second example is a more recent, more practical application of our evolved psychology steering us to suffering. Social media preys on our psychology and leads us to feedback loops of chasing pleasure – these feedback loops which the I argue on behalf of the Buddha that lead us to suffer.

Social media exploits a lot of the behaviors that we developed as ape ancestors way back in the day. To increase our likelihood to survive, we evolved to be tribal – to stick to those close to us and to feel a sense of connection. By increasing the size of his tribe, a man had less enemies and more people to fight off enemies, therefore decreasing the likelihood he would die in attack. We evolved to experience pleasure when we make connection with someone and to seek friendship to encourage us to grow our tribe so we would not die in an attack. Social media exploits this reward for growing our tribe.

Social media exploits the reward for growing a tribe by rewarding an individual with “likes” or retweets if the user posts content that other users find appealing. We get our pleasure feeling when others click “like” or “retweet.” The downside is that, as Wright explained, when pleasure is routine and then removed, dopamine (pleasure sensors) goes negative and we actually feel less happy than our neutral state because we fail to reach expectation.

When a user fails to reach expectation our pleasure expectations, social media users generate more content in hopes they will get those pleasure triggers. It is this clinging the Buddha warned against but on an immediate, constant scale. Social media users, and there are a lot of them, are constantly creating and seeking this fleeting pleasure. Ex-Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya warns against this (link), I warn against this, and the Buddha would warn against this. It is unhealthy to constantly worry about these pleasures inspired by the action (click) from others.

In conclusion, suffering is part of human existence. The very things we are designed to do are sources of our desires that lead us to unhappiness. The need to survive and have children shaped our psychology to seek pleasures, and these pleasures are short-term. We become addicted to the pleasures, like a drug user (which probably also has evolutionary roots).

The Buddha says to acknowledge that these pleasures are fleeting, and that we can end our suffering by removing the search for these fleeting pleasures. This is easier said than done, especially in our modern world where social media creates not only a recurring source of pleasure from “likes” and “retweets”, but also serves as a more common means of finding sexual partners. To be free from the suffering found in seeking pleasure, we must rebel against our default psychology and remove the need for the pleasure that gives reason for us to suffer.