"We are born as human beings, as we are quite aware, and we have to maintain ourselves and keep up our humanness. We do this by breathing, so that our body has the proper circulation and pulsations it needs to survive. We do it by eating food as fuel and by wearing clothes to protect ourselves from the weather. But we can't maintain ourselves in those ways alone, just by eating, wearing clothes, and sleeping so that we can wake up with the daylight and collect more food to eat. There is something else happening beyond that level: emotionally, we feel that we need to accept and reject.

"Sometimes we feel very lonely, and sometimes we feel claustrophobic. When we feel lonely, we seek out partners, friends, and lovers. But when we have too many, we become claustrophobic and reject some of them. Sometimes we feel good. Everything has developed ideally for us. We have companionship; we have clothing to keep ourselves warm; we have food in our stomach; we have enough liquid to drink to keep from being thirsty. We feel satisfied. But anyone of those satisfactions can subside. We might have companionship but not a good meal; we might have a good meal but no companionship. Sometimes we have good food, but we are thirsty. Sometimes we are happy about one thing but unhappy about other things. It is very hard to keep together the myriad things that go on and on, up and down. It is very hard. It turns out to be quite a handful, quite a project, for us to keep everything at the ideal level. It is almost impossible to maintain an even sense of happiness.

"Even though some of our requirements might be achieved, we still feel anxiety. We think, 'At this point my stomach is full of food, but where am I going to get my next meal when my stomach is empty and I'm hungry? At this point, I'm all right, but the next time I become thirsty, where am I going to get a drop of water? Right now, I'm fully clothed and I feel comfortable, but just in case it gets hot or cold, what will I do? I'm completely well equipped with companions now, but in case they don't keep me company, where will I find more companionship? What if the person who is presently keeping company with me decides to leave me?'

"There are all sorts of jigsaw puzzles in life, and the pieces do not perfectly meet. Even if they did meet — which is highly improbable, one chance in a million or less — you would still be anxious, thinking, 'Supposing something goes wrong, then what?' So when you are at your best and you feel good about things, you are even more anxious, because you may not have continuity. And often, you feel cheated by your life, because you do not have the facility to synchronize thousands of things at once. So there is natural, automatic pain and suffering. It is not like the pain of a headache or the pain you feel when some-body hits you in the ribs — it is anxiousness, which is a very haunting situation.

"People might say, 'I have everything sorted out, and I'm quite happy the way I am. I don't have to look for something to make myself more comfortable.' Nonetheless, people are always anxiety-ridden. Apart from simply functioning, the way we gaze at the wall or the mountains or the sky, the way we scratch, the way we timidly smile, the way we twitch our faces, the way we move unnecessarily — the way we do everything — is a sign of anxiousness. The conclusion is that everybody is neurotic, that neurosis creates discomfort and anxiety, and that basic anxiety is happening all the time.

"In order to rectify that basic anxiousness, we create heavy-handed situations. We come up with intense aggression; we come up with intense passion; we come up with intense pride. We come up with what are known as the kleshas — conflicting or confused emotions — which entertain our basic anxiety and exaggerate it altogether. We do all sorts of things because of that basic anxiety, and because of that, we begin to find ourselves in more trouble and more pain. As the afterthought of expressing our aggression and lust, we find ourselves feeling bad; and not only do we feel bad, but we feel more anxious. That pattern happens all the time. We are in a state of anxiety, and each time we try to make ourselves feel better, we feel worse. We might feel better at the time, if we strike out with our particular flair or style; but then there is a tremendous letdown and tremendous pain. We feel funny about it; in fact, we feel wretched. Not only that, but we make other people feel wretched as well. We can't just practice passion, aggression, and ignorance on ourselves alone; we do it to somebody else as well, and someone always gets hurt. So, instead of just having our own anxiety, we produce a further state of anxiety in others. We generate their anxiety, and they also generate it themselves; and we end up with what is known as 'the vicious circle of samsara.' Everybody is constantly making everybody else feel bad."