In the Free Online Course Buddhism and Modern Psychology, Robin Wright says that Mick Jagger’s song I Can’t Get No Satisfaction may have been one of the most Buddhist of the more modern songs of our culture. He says that the first noble truth of Buddhism teaches us that until we have harmoniously aligned ourselves, none of us can be satisfied. The Buddhist’s call this condition suffering, but Wright suggests that the condition is more one of constant yearning.
I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists–One where my heart is full, my body loved, and my soul understood. – Anonymous
I have written about this type of yearning several times before Here, but I had no idea that what I was saying had anything to do with Buddhism. In my opinion, this verifies the fact that Buddhism, like Psychology, addresses a general malaise and that in this way, it has little to do with the worship of one deity or another, and Wright says that in the first of his videos Here or on YouTube.
On his third video, Wright says that Dukkha is the state of suffering [the first noble truth] and that Nirvana is the release of that suffering. He says that people are generally satisfied for very short periods of time and that they begin to crave something else soon after they have gotten what they thought would make them happy. He uses the example of eating powdered sugar doughnuts, which he says that he craves. While he is eating the doughnut, he believes that he is satisfied, but his satisfaction is short-lived. Almost immediately, he wants another.
In my own observations, I see this in serial marital unfaithfulness. We marry, and for a short while we experience a honeymoon-like bliss, but the newness wears off and the thrill is gone. Soon thereafter, one or more of the married partners begins to crave someone else, who will indeed please them for a short while, but that thrill also wears off.
Wright says that as people begin to realize that what they had thought was giving them happiness and begins to slip away, they begin to cling. This clinging is the misery outlined in the second noble truth.
Wright continues by saying that we may not crave sensual pleasures but that as we crave being the best at what we do, we are suffering the same type of wanting and needing. He says that psychologists call our continuous need for more the hedonic treadmill [i.e. Hedonism (pleasure-seeking) and treadmill (not getting anywhere].
Wright also makes the point that our fears are also related to our tendencies to cling. He says that when we are afraid to speak in public, it is because we are clinging to our attachments to a state of not being socially unacceptable. The following links to the YouTube site where Wright’s videos exist in a bundle. Here You will need to go to Youtube to scroll the videos subsequent to the first video.
In the 4th of his videos, Robin Wright begins to compare this Buddhist state of yearning with our psychological needs for dopamine [the chemical that is linked to pleasure]. He adds that eating, sex, and elevating one’s social status [I would add career status] are ways of increasing and sustaining dopamine levels.