Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Friendship of Hedgehogs

What is the cause of ill feelings in human beings? Why people are angry, sad, remorseful, irritated, frustrated, or depressed? Buddhist doctrine discusses this question. It says that the largest problem in human beings' lives is based in human relationships. Buddha once said that human beings were destined to be born alone and to die alone. Some would come; some other would go. Lives are transient. Human beings are lonely. Everybody is suffering from loneliness. Readers might have heard the Buddhist concept of approaching the world based on a view of life as something transient and empty.

Buddhist monks are like Christian clergymen; they both speak of life through profound but understandable analogies. One Buddhist monk said that human relationships are like a hedgehog's friendship. Hedgehogs have thousands of needles on their backs in order to protect themselves. However, other animals do not want to make friends with hedgehogs because they did not want to be hurt by the needles on hedgehogs' backs. Hedgehogs are, therefore, lonely. A hedgehog may try to be a friend of another hedgehog. A hedgehog would be extremely happy to find another hedgehog; the hedgehogs would hope to become friends and cure each other's loneliness.

If the hedgehogs kept their distance from each other, their needles would not do any damage. However, as the hedgehogs became friendlier, they would become closer in their physical relationship. When they started to be physically close, they would start to hurt each other with their own needles.

The monk explained that human relationships are highly similar to the story of the hedgehogs. When two persons keep a distance from each other and respect other, they seemed to have fewer problems. When they became close and intimate, their needles would start to cause them to hurt each other. When they were separated, they would be longing for love. When they were close again, they would hurt each other again, and once they were hurt, they would be separated and lonely again. Buddhism calls this vicious cycle "Loneliness Hell", and it can happen to anybody.

Even if one is busy and surrounded by many people (such as so-called friends, office colleagues, or family members), one can still be lonely if he feels that nobody knows real him. It is similar to living in a big city. There are many people around him, but there is no one who talks with him or even knows him. One would be, therefore, angry, sad, remorseful, irritated, frustrated, or depressed. Buddhism teaches that it is only unconditional love and spiritual awakening which can save human beings from this miserable cycle. If one separated himself from selfishness and gladly helped others without seeking anything in return, he would be free from loneliness; therefore, he would not suffer from these ill feelings.

Even without awakening spiritually, someone who would build his soul, knowing that unconditional love is the solution to loneliness, would be able to acquire an unusually strong mind free from negative emotions.

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