Three Kinds of People
by Dr. Karl Seidenstücker
are three kinds of people. Who are these three? Those who enjoy the
world, those who abhor the world, and those who overcome the world.
who enjoy the world’s pleasures are the ones who with imperturbable
optimism gorge themselves. They may be compared with the ox before the
filled manger, disregarding the approaching butcher and persisting in
full enjoyment of the food, until suddenly the butcher’s hand descends
on his neck.
Those who abhor the world are
the inveterate pessimists. They can be likened unto a man who sits down
to the table hungry, filled with eagerness and appetite for the dainty
food he expects. But when he uncovers the dish he sees carrion in it,
ordure and loathsome vermin. His appetite changes into aversion,
repugnance and disgust. Those who overcome the world are the ones who
dwell in serene equanimity, those who have recognized that:
“The profane exists and the exalted exists. And there is a refuge beyond the world of the senses.”
are like the soaring eagle, leaving behind the dreary plains, flying up
into the endless sky, toward the stillness of its fathomless immensity.
speaking, aversion to the world ranges higher than worldly pleasure,
but far higher stands the overcoming of the world in Holy Wisdom, Holy
Conduct, Holy Equanimity.
Aversion to the
world running counter against worldly pleasure can be good and wholesome
if exercised in a period of transition and of short duration. As a
permanent state of mind it is undesirable, leading nowhere.
The one who indulges in worldly pleasures sees reality through rose-coloured glasses. He who overcomes the world sees reality for what it is.
Pleasure and desire are Rati and Raga, the enchanting daughters of Mara, the king of death. He has a third, whose name is Arati, i. e. aversion or disgust. Beware against all three of them!
so-called pessimists imagine that they have overcome the world. But the
very loathing of the world, which fills them, proves that this is not
true. For aversion, which is desire turned into its opposite, indicates
that the one ridden with it expected to find something else, something
better than he did find. Therefore the craving is still there, only
hidden and suppressed. The former positive attraction has now become
negative repulsion, but as passion it is by no means extinguished. The
renunciation of such a person is not an overcoming; it does not lead to liberation, it is only the painfully and frustratingly felt necessity to abstain.
we come to those who say: “The world is a garden of delight. It must be
fully enjoyed, there is nothing wrong in sensual pleasures.” They fall
into one extreme, while those who declare the world to be loathsome fall
into the other extreme. Here the Buddha proclaims the Middle Way, avoiding both these extremes and from which, in keeping with reality, the disciple visualizes:
the factors of existence, be they our own, or those of others, near or
far away, of coarse or fine nature, are transitory, and what is
transitory is a womb of pain. What is painful is anatta, what is anatta
is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self.”
to the depth of this realization, the high-minded disciple will become
weary of the six senses and their objects, which is the World. In
becoming weary of them, he detaches himself from passion and in doing
so, he becomes free. Having thus become free, he is fully awakened and
exclaims: “the painful round of birth and death is exhausted, the Holy
Life is lived, this world is no longer for me.”
is the Middle Way, which avoids both the extremes of worldly pleasure
and world-disgust. This is the overcoming of the world as taught by the
Buddha. This is Holy Equanimity, a state of mind that keeps itself free
from blinding passion, be it attractive or repulsive, positive or
negative. Again, the disciple who is calm, collected and mindful can
proclaim: “I neither desire World and Life nor do I abhor World and
Life. However, I do know one thing with certainty: this whole world
together with my organism, and this many-fold panorama called Life,—I am not this; this does not belong to me; this is not my self. Just as little as the dry leaves swept away by the scavenger belong to me and might be called myself.”
is the state of the Enlightened Man; the world does not touch him any
more; its weight does not crush him any more, because he has seen
through it and found it empty.
of people there are, it has been told: those who enjoy the world, those
who abhor the world, and those who overcome the world. Would that every
earnest seeker put this question to himself: “To which of these three
classes of people do I belong?”
Source: BPS, Kandy, Wheel 74-5 (excerpt). For free distribution only.