Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What is Suffering?

A friend of mine was extremely curious to learn what suffering meant in the context of Buddhism, since this is a word that has been used in many of my recent posts.

Suffering means dissatisfaction, impermanence and imperfection. There are three known categories of sufferings: the obvious physical and mental suffering caused by birth, aging, sickness and death; the anxiety generated by holding onto things that are constantly changing; and the basic unsatisfactoriness caused by impermanence.

All good things must come to an end when all the causes and conditions associated with that particular cause cease to exist. One cannot stay healthy and young forever. Beauty and youth doesn't last. Lovers can have a change of heart; kids grow old; friendship evolve and drift apart; loved ones getting all caught up in addiction and consume by hatred, anger, depression and disappointment.

The notion of "more is better" or "the grass is greener on the other side" are sufferings arising from dissatisfaction and discontentment with the current situation. In the digital dating world, whether it's straight or gay, not wanting to settle, thinking that there is always a "perfect" match out there for me, constantly "looking" and never quite find what you are looking for are suffering caused by discontentment and imperfection and unsatisfying. Nothing ever lasts, everything goes through momentary changes, evolves and decays.

Suffering arises when we try to hold onto the unstable, impermanent nature of objects, people, situations or phenomena that are no longer the same. The teaching of the four noble truths is the foundation of developing insight into the nature of suffering, the conditions that cause it, and how it can be overcome.

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