Life is full of suffering. It can be easily said that there is more suffering than happiness in the world. Consider that most people look forward to not being at work, and they do it an average of eight hours a day, five days a week. That is the majority of the time.
Buddha was a Master and very deep thinker. He proposed four noble truths that clearly suggest the place and purpose of suffering:
1. Life is suffering
2. Suffering is due to attachment
3. Attachment can be overcome
4. There is a path for accomplishing this
Suffering is a sign of being asleep and unaware. Suffering is useful because it points to falsehoods and clashes with reality. Suffering is a path to awareness. Becoming sick and tired of it all pushes us to the point of getting relief to get out of situations. We all stubbornly resist change. Change is hastened when we are prompted by pleasant experiences or painful experiences.
Pleasant experiences make life delightful. Painful experiences lead to growth. This growth occurs through understanding. Understanding through awareness of pain will allow to break the attachment that causes the pain. Observation reaps the rewards of suffering. This breaking is not a separation, but instead it is the ceasing of grasping it in the first place.
An analogy is the touching of a hot pot on a stove. The pot hurts you when it is touched. Suffering occurs. Is the appropriate reaction to throw the pot away? No. If the pot were thrown away, the new pot would be as hot, and the hand would continue to be burned. The appropriate reaction is to understand how to pick up the pot without being burned. When we are asleep and unaware we touch the hot pot again and again. Suffering is not discontinued. Getting relief only postpones future pain. Psychotherapy and counseling can relieve pain and suffering, not cure it or use it for awareness. This relief of suffering is like getting a healing salve and bandage over the burned hand. It may heal, but if we touch the pot again, we will get burned again and the salve and bandage did not good.
Why do you and I keep touching the pot? Why do we continue to be burned for uncountable times? Why did the big pile of discarded salve bottles and bandages do no good?
Consider happiness to be the opposite of suffering. I will now introduce some concepts supported by Buddha’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th noble truths.
· True happiness is uncaused. Uninterrupted happiness is uncaused.
· YOU cannot make me happy. YOU are not my happiness.
· Happiness is a natural state.
· Suffering is caused by stupidity and clinging to society, culture, and others.
Happiness cannot be acquired. Why? You already have it! You have it like a mud puddle has pure water. When you drop tour illusions and attachments, the happiness is there. When the mud is removed from the puddle, a basin of pure water is present. Happiness causes life to become easy and delightful. Happiness is only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed and your cravings. Where do these come from? From identification and attachment and cravings! Do not worry if you don’t grasp this now. I will repeat it again (and again and again).
Finally, let us consider further our suffering reactions. Every time you are unhappy you have added something to your life. You have added a negative reaction. Reality provides stimulus in life, and you provide the negative reaction and thus the suffering. A wonderful analogy for our suffering as a reaction to reality is in the actions of a child. When a child falls off a chair while in the act of carefree playing they will not cry. They looked stunned, realize that everything is where it should be, and continue on playing. Meanwhile the parents are horrified. Consider the situation when a sibling pushes the child over while fighting over a toy. The child falls backwards and their behind hits the floor. The physical pain is minimal to the parent’s eyes. Not for the child. The child cries and yells, connecting the pain of the toy being taken from them to the impact on the floor. We are all children making big noises about little pains