“The moth unwitting rushes on the fire,
Through ignorance the fish devours the bait,
We men know well the foes that lie in wait,
Yet cannot shun the meshes of desire.”
— Bhartrhari – “Against the Love of Beauty”
“For beings long to free themselves from misery,
But misery itself they follow and pursue.
They long for joy, but in their ignorance
Destroy it, as they would their foe.”
— Shantideva – Verse 28 / Chapter 1 of the Bodhicharyavatara
By and large, all beings remain steeped in ignorance and delusion. As a result, they rush headlong into abysses of suffering and misery even though wishing to be rid of all suffering. They do so by performing unwholesome acts. The pursuit of unhealthy deeds is the result of ignorance. The delusion that camouflages reality prevents them from seeing through the veil. They are unable to discriminate between what is pleasant and what is good. This leads them astray. The Kathopinisada says:
“The beneficient is different from the pleasing: both lead to different ends.”
Who does not want happiness? Event the tiniest of creatures does. However, all beings have a tendency to drive straight to hell by doing what is pleasing as distinct from what is good – like foolish moths rushing towards a tempting flame of light, to sure death. Desiring happiness, they themselves destroy it, thus becoming their own enemies. Such are people who are suicidal. But, why do they behave in such a suicidal manner? Because of attachment, infatuation. It is this blind infatuation, preventing the seed of enlightenment from generating.
— excerpt from the Parmananda Sharma Commentary of the Bodhicharyavatara
(image from inner traditions and the title is a quote from Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice))