The eight worldly concerns...

February 28, 2015

Have you heard of them? How do you live them?

I enjoy reading about meditation and mindfulness. In the book Living Beautifully: with uncertainty and change, are listed the eight worldly concerns, presented in four pairs of opposites. Our job in life is to learn to stay in the middle...

  • pleasure and pain
  • gain and loss
  • fame and disgrace
  • praise and blame


The greatest force being pleasure and pain. We spend our lives chasing pleasure while avoiding pain, driving many of our actions to receive the pleasure we are in search of, yet avoiding those things that cause pain we do not want, avoiding the present feeling of discontent.

Discovering growth throughout our lifetimes from lessons we are continually taught, and learning there is more to liberation than trying to avoid discomfort, and more to lasting happiness than temporary pleasures, temporary relief.


Our connection to gain and loss, of what we have or want, as well as what we don't have or might lose, often driven by money and possessions. Even ones status within politics, sports, business and  friendship can be affected in negative ways, as seen with much of the ferocious competition in todays society.

Contentment not found with retail therapy, generally swells the emptiness within. Those who have won millions end up more disconnected from life with the gain then when they struggled with much less.


As with fame and disgrace - while many are not famous, we do hold onto a wanting for a good reputation. For some, everything we do is to ensure that we will be admired and not scorned. Staying with the majority as not to sidestep later. Even knowing fame does not bring the happiness many people anticipate. 

Learning to stay in the middle, in that open space between seeking what is comfortable and avoiding what is not.


And lastly praise and blame, we seek compliments yet shrink from criticism. Some thrive from applause from a job well done yet fall to pieces with criticism, even constructive.  So easily influenced by others praise or blame, many often choosing others opinions of us over our own. 

Are we willing to free ourselves from the severity of pleasure and pain, what people think, whether we win or lose, or whether we have a good or bad reputation?

Here is Steve Jobs view of the eight worldly concerns, after being diagnosed with cancer...

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.


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