Why do we suffer?
This was the subject of the Buddha’s first lesson after his enlightenment. The Buddha said we suffer by wanting things we don’t have and having things we don’t want, by being aware from loved ones and near people we don’t like. He described many other sufferings in such a way that it was clear we could never make a world where all these conditions were just the way we like. It was also clear that money could not solve very many of these problems. So what causes all these problems? DESIRE! Not the desire to own things or sexual desire. These are the most commonly used meanings of the word because they are so obvious. The desire the Buddha spoke of includes those desires, but much more. It includes desire to see ourselves as separate from others, desire to see things in a way that makes us morally good, even desire to treasure and recite the texts and rituals of Buddhism!
What is the Buddhist path out of desire?
To eliminate the suffering-causing desire you need to start living right. Specifically you need the right understanding, right thought, right words, right action, right occupation, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration (meditation).
Compassion and wisdom are the centre of this. Compassionate behaviour creates situations that allow you to develop your wisdom. Wise beings are always compassionate, since compassion is the most logical response to the world once you see it clearly. Since compassion and wisdom support one another, it should be easy, right? The difficulty is getting started. We have good intentions, but we need vows to give those good intentions strength. Even a small vow is a start. For now though, if you want to follow the path, the most basic five are:
Not to harm or kill sentient beings
Not to steal (defined as taking something that is not given to you)
No sexual misconduct
Not to lie or engage in malicious talk
No drugs or alcohol
Some Zen newbies turn these vows into laws and debate them like a lawyer, but that’s not the point. If you want to know if it’s wrong, ask yourself honestly, what was your true motivation and do you feel guilty about it.
Meditation in essential too. As part of your meditation practice learn to observe your thoughts and if disturbing thoughts keep coming simply say: change pegs and soon it will lose its power and be diffused.
Present in every moment of consciousness are feelings of pleasantness, unpleasantness or neutrality. It is this quality of feeling that has conditioned our minds to cling or condemn. Thus one grasps at pleasant objects and feelings and condemns and has aversion for unpleasant things. It is between the two links of feelings and craving where one may interject and break the chain of dependent origination and so bring suffering and unhappiness in your life to an end.
So there you have it if you want to end suffering… simply learn to observe instead of reaction to every desire that your mind conjures up. Nayanaponik Thera commented that by learning to observe… attachment to likes and dislikes will be reduced and thereby an inner space will be provided for the growth of the finer emotions and virtues: for loving-kindness and compassion, for contentment, patience and forbearance.” Such finer emotions and virtues surely represent a fine base from which skillful intent and actions in the world can occur. It is the gradual replacement of unskillful intentions and acts with skillful ones in Buddhism that puts an end to the generation of negative karma and suffering.
QUOTE:“Enjoying the joys of others and suffering with them – these are the best guides for man.”
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:”Life is suffering.” Buddha
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: The energy it takes to suffer!
ZENTRAVELER SAYS:End suffering by living right and learning to observe!
From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.
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