Why is the human condition one of pain? Why not constant well being? You know those infrequent times when everything seems right and you have a warm feeling inside and the people around you are enjoying each other? Why can’t life be like that all the time? Why is there so much emotional pain? Why is there resentment, hatred, arrogance, and drama? Why would anyone choose negativity over positivity?
Answer: the false self (ego). It creates stories about itself and others. Because this self is false, the stories it tells are false. The false self is incapable of telling true stories, just as the true self is incapable of telling false stories. The false self claims that it is better than others and/or that others are bad and therefore deserve criticism and punishment. Because the ego’s falsity requires it to be constantly maintained, the negativity it generates will be constant. This causes us pain, but the pain that our false self would experience if it were to lose its constant support would be even greater, so we keep up the ego’s I’m-better-than-you attitude in order to avoid greater pain.
The falsity of the ego is easily seen when we compare it to things that are true. For example, if someone were to say that our skin was green, we would not experience pain because the color of one’s skin is an undeniable fact. Being true, it is not part of the ego because nothing true can be part of the false self. But if someone were to claim that everyone with our particular skin color was inferior, then we might experience pain. Why? Because it contradicts the ego’s belief that it is superior. The idea that skin color is an indication of one’s abilities or self-worth is false, and being false it can exist only as part of the ego (because only the ego could possibly believe it). Since the ego’s belief in its own superiority is therefore false, it can never be sure of this belief, so whenever anyone questions it, the ego feels pain because its fragile feeling of being correct and superior is shattered. If we are wise enough to not have this erroneous ego belief, then there is nothing to shatter and therefore we will not experience pain.
Much of human activity is nothing more than desperate upkeep of ego. People constantly need to feel that they are more likeable, athletic, attractive, praiseworthy, wealthy, intelligent, correct, moral, or valuable than others. Why? Because deep down they do not really believe it (and they will never admit that they have any self-doubt because they are frightened to be exposed as the frauds that they are). No matter how many times they “prove” that they are “superior” or “correct”, they need to keep proving it by acting cordial, bragging, exhibiting athletic prowess, wearing fashionable clothing, obtaining sexual partners, buying/flaunting expensive possessions/meals/trips, criticizing, or getting into religious/political arguments. This constant “proof” is necessary because they are defending a false belief, which causes their “proof” to disappear just after it appears, so they keep needing new “proof” each moment. Remember, anything true stands on its own and needs no defense or advertising; anything false disappears as soon as it is no longer maintained.