Children are far more intelligent, adaptable creatures than most realize. My father obsessed over being the “favorite” parent, the one we loved more. To him, this was based on the instant gratification of being the parent we liked more at a particular time. His pursuit of validation in the form of this perception, and the resulting dopamine hit that assuredly comes with seeing a smile on your child’s face created a cycle of egregious gift giving and a competition for affection. Of course, this is only speculation on his thoughts from my vantage point. I remember my dad often told me, “we’ll do this or I’ll get you that, but don’t tell your mom.” In retrospect this was done entirely in regard to frivolous bullshit, nonetheless, it warped me subconsciously.
There was a prince, Siddhartha Gautama, born in Nepal during the 6th century B.C. The young prince’s father wanted to keep the young boy from having to experience the pain and suffering of the outside world. Instead of allowing him to experience the miseries of the human condition the king built a palace for the boy and showered him with all the luxuries available to royalty during the 6th century B.C. When the prince reached his late 20s he did like most men do, albeit rather late when compared to most men (then again, given the millennial generation you could make a compelling argument against this point) and ventured into the world outside his splendor and lavish palaces. As you might expect, the young man soon encountered the horrors of poverty, old age, disease, famine, and all the other savagery and shit that comes along with mortality.
I imagine the king and my father had a similar mindset in regard to the showering of earthly possessions onto their respective young offspring. Furthermore, I imagine both did so with the best of intentions in mind. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In an effort to expedite the narrative of the prince, now a grown man decides to leave his life of opulence behind and endure the true, painful nature of the world and existence. He suffers for some years, has an awakening of sorts and ends up becoming the Buddha we all know and love. I am no Buddha. Yet, the story of his upbringing, as well as his teachings, resonate withinme. Buddha could never have become an addict because his nature was always pure. His lack of understanding was rooted in innocent ignorance, whereas mine was more selfish arrogance. The great abyss of consumption, seeking selfish desires and vehicles to satisfy such desires, coupled with an indifference to the motives of others so long as my perceived urges were being satisfied. All the while rationalizing such unholy behavior by whatever means necessary.