Movies are one of the great joys of my life. I like to watch them, study them, dissect them. I even write them for a friend of mine who’s an independent producer. Although I like all types of movies, my favorite is probably the horror genre. For some obscure reason lost way back in my childhood, I find comfort in huddling in the dark, eating popcorn, and watching good eventually overcome evil. Or at least it does in the movies I like to watch. Occasionally I’ll even find the Buddha’s sayings echoed in the scripts.
For example, probably more movies have been made from W. W. Jacobs’ “Monkey’s Paw” than any other tale. The original story is based on the common idea of karma (i.e., if you wish or do something bad or selfish, it will turn into something bad happening to you).
According to the Buddha, karma is much simpler than that. It doesn’t turn or twist your desires into something bad. You do that all by yourself. According to the Four Noble Truths, the very act of wanting something to be different harms you. The Buddha saw such “desires” as the root of all suffering. Following the Eightfold Path frees you from desire, suffering, and karma.
So, given the choice, if you had a Monkey’s Paw, what would you wish for? In my youth, I would have wished for a lot of different things: fame, fortune, good health. Unfortunately, most of us require a lifetime to understand this simple truth — even desiring to be free from desire is itself a trap.
“You will not be punished for your anger. Your anger is your punishment.” the Buddha