A very recent chat with a friend coincidentally brought to bear on the piece ‘ I am a rock that I posted a few days ago. And the first thought that entered my mind was the Buddha’s ‘Second Noble Truth’.

The wisdom of this statement – of the suffering that attachment or desire can cause was brought home to me emphatically when Manoleto (Psychiatrist Extraodinaire) related an incident concerning individuals in his life that have had intertwined relationships over many years and that has now reached a stage where one of them has developed twisted views of what is considered to be reality – all due to unfulfilled desire. The desire for possession, in this particular instance, had been so overwhelming that all manner of ploys were brought to bear on the individual who was desired, so much so that it had the opposite effect and, instead of attracting the object of desire, it succeeded in distancing it. And this, according to Manoleto, is when the mind can begin to twist reality. The ‘madness’ that is caused by unfulfilled obsession can be so irrational, he said, that even the smallest inkling that could lead to the paranoid fantasy or nightmare is often employed to conjure up a reality that couldn’t be farther away from the truth. I wondered if this was one of the aspects (among others) that Shakespeare encompassed in his famous quote – his “love is blind” bit in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.

Many of us will, of course, realize that ‘love’ has very little to do with ‘possessing’ – as Sting sings, ‘If you love somebody, set them free’. And jealousy has much more to do with hate than with love – as all the philosophers and ‘holy-men’ have taught. Manoleto’s experience among such folk leads him to believe that the sickness that is caused by the mental stress of unfulfilled desire takes many forms, among which are paranoia, schizophrenic behaviour, irrational thought processes, persecution complexes and altering reality to suit the individual’s inadequacies. And the condition, if not treated sufficiently well, says Manny, could lead to all manner of other complications.

Anyway, according to Manny, this particular case of unrequited love had led the affected individual to engage in ludicrous theories, illustrated with vivid and profane descriptions of the fantasies related in the presence of mutual friends. He said that the symptoms and effects were obvious and the effect on those present was, as expected, shock, confirmation of a severe behavioral disorder and a feeling of helplessness – given the fact that this very long-standing relationship was disintegrating. And, as confirmation of the condition was beyond doubt to those present, the quandary for them was how to deal with their friend’s condition.

In the meantime, as Manny related, the unrequited ‘lover’ was content to pursue the fantasies that reinforced whatever inadequacies needed bolstering, whilst playing the ‘double game’ of pretense and victim at the same time.

As the Buddha said, the Third Noble Truth is that the ending of suffering is attainable through the ending of desire or craving. And this looks like being the only way out of the morass for those afflicted by this condition. And to Manny, who has not much knowledge of Buddhism (being from Managua) it made a great deal of sense. So much sense in fact, that he went off and bought a book on Buddhism in general and one on the Four Noble Truths in particular!

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