Investigating Suffering

The last mind changing brings up the issue of suffering and refers to the shortcomings of Samsara. It reminds us that living disconnected from an inner life will inevitably be unfulfilling, even if we experience many blessings. The Buddha is known for saying “I teach only two things, about suffering and the end of suffering.” So this ubiquitous Buddhist theme of investigating suffering is in service to the potential to realize genuine happiness, (a quality of contentment that arises from within rather than the kind that is tied to circumstances). It makes sense that, if we want to know the joy of our inner being, we will need to examine all the places where we experience its absence, and learn to relate to them skillfully.

So, coming back to the first teaching the Buddha gave, The Four Noble Truths. The first insight he wanted to highlight about life is, there is suffering here! I have always liked how he did not sugar coat this fact, or pretend otherwise, and instead invites us to sincerely examine suffering, especially our own. He is suggesting here that the compassionate recognition of anguish can be a launching pad toward its relief.

Buddha statue

Today, become especially aware of this aspect of existence, both your own and others’. See if you can observe and acknowledge any gross or subtle suffering you feel or witness without turning away and without embellishment, just the raw truth of it, in your belly. Allow the difficult aspects of life to be held with a gentle recognition today, a soft embrace of this unavoidable side of life.




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