We have to be able to distinguish between true
happiness, a state which is immune to suffering that cannot
be touched or corrupted by dukkha, and seeming happiness,
the illusion of happiness.
To find such a state we have
to take the things we ordinarily consider to be the sources
of happiness and find out if they are really give
us the happiness we want.
If they can not do so —if they should turn out to
connected with suffering, to lead into suffering — then
we have to draw the conclusion that they’re really
concealed forms of dukkha.
Throughout his discourses the Buddha examines our supposed
sources of happiness and shows how they’re all defective,
how they fail to measure up to the criterion we set for
pleasures give some amount of happiness but they’re
bound up with excitement and with agitation. When we
enjoy them we tend to grasp them, to clutch them; we
try to draw from them whatever enjoyment they can give.
might be bound with anxiety and worry – we’re
afraid the objects of pleasure will perish, be stolen
or lose their flavor, that the people who give us pleasure
will leave us. When the pleasurable objects are persons
are lost, we feel sorrow and grieve.
Or enjoyment might be mixed with guilt, when we enjoy
them at the expense of someone else.
Enjoyment of sense pleasures leads
to attachment. We cling even more tightly
to the sources of sense enjoyment, become more and
more dependent on them, developing a kind of addiction
Often we find that the pleasures we sought don’t
give us the happiness we expected of them. Even when get
them, even when we’re satiated
with them, they still leave us feeling hollow, unfulfilled,
Life itself is
taken to be the ultimate good, the source of all our
happiness. But to take a close look at your life, at
your existence, you have to
go beyond your own standpoint and look at sentient
existence in general. You have to widen your mental horizons,
stretch your consciousness to cover all life, so see
what is the degree, the amount of experience of pain,
of suffering in life.
And for all life, the ultimate end is old age, illness
From this reflections you can see that while the
things we turn to for happiness do give us pleasure and
temporary gratification, they don’t
give us a lasting complete sense of gratification.
None are absolutely reliable. They change, break up,
prove disappointing. At their core they’re inadequate,
they turn out to be forms of dukkha.
If we reflect carefully we’ll see
that a great part of common experiences
is bound up in some way with pain, that it
involves a subtle kind of dissatisfaction.
This might no be evident at once but it becomes
clear when we reflect carefully, when we
use what the Buddha calls wise
How do we investigate? In the upcoming Ashoka
course on the Four Noble Truths you will
be guided on a path of such wise reflection,
so that you can examine in your own life
the sources of dukkha.
can not be found in the realm of the conditioned birth
The Buddha also
shows us the way out of this Dukkha, that is Nibbana
and the path to Nibbana. He assures us that it
can be attained by any one of us just as he attained
it. Hence the path laid down by Buddha becomes
the most optimistic and the hopeful.
In order to free
ourselves from suffering we have to find the causes
for our bondage. If we’re
tied up in knots, we have to find out how the bonds are
ties, what are the knots in order to undo the knots. This
brings us to the Second Noble Truth.
Four Noble Truths The
First Noble Truth — Dukkha