The Path To Ruin, part one

Had a small epiphany recently about my life and how much things have changed in the last couple of years. In that time, I think my priorities have changed, some things have become very important to me, and other things have become almost forgotten. This sounds kind of vague, but most of it doesn’t relate to the blog.

What I feel is that I have backslid on some important aspects of my life and this has resulted in some problems for me:

  • I found out recently that I have significantly gained weight (now 240 pounds, 108kg) after a recent doctor’s visit. My cholesterol has been higher too.
  • I haven’t finished reading a book in a long time. I have many, many unfinished books.
  • Certain positive habits I had in the past (mainly Buddhist practice) have become less and less frequent.

None of this is really that serious. I have also kept up some positive habits too: I’ve stuck with studying two languages a lot longer than I thought I would, I still try hard to be a good father, etc.

But, especially with health and such, I feel that I may be walking a slow, long walk to my own ruin. If I keep walking this path, I’ll develop health problems I didn’t need to. If I keep neglecting Buddhist practice, I will be unhappy and create agony when I don’t need to,1 or I will create conflict with people when I don’t have to.

When I realized all this, my first instinct was to just “man up” and quit things cold-turkey. Turn off the blog for a while, leave my bank card at home, etc. I sometimes try this. Then I remembered an old, old post I wrote about that. The original comic by Sinfest points out this habit of swinging back and forth between indulgence and self-neglect. I do the things above routinely. And of course, it never lasts long, or gets becomes too impractical.

I also remember from AJATT that there is a Japanese term for this called 三日坊主 (mikka bōzu), which means a “three-day” monk. This means someone who starts things but quits easily. As AJATT writes, it’s a cycle between trying too hard and not trying at all. Because I started a new position at my company recently, I’ve been pushing myself really hard and my manager told me recently to relax a little bit and stop making myself miserable.

So, the path to ruin isn’t just the indulgence, bad-habits and backsliding. It also includes self-neglect and martyrdom.

In part two, I’ll talk about what I intend to do about it. I didn’t want this to become too long,2 so I felt like splitting it over two days instead.

Namu Shaka Nyorai

1 My favorite quote from the Buddhist text, the Dhammapada is:

371. Meditate, O monk! Do not be heedless. Let not your mind whirl on sensual pleasures. Heedless, do not swallow a red-hot iron ball, lest you cry when burning, “O this is painful!”

2 TL;DR in Internet slang terms. 😉


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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