Reality of Suffering
Suffering of discontent and mental
While we can easily identify with unavoidable
suffering, there is, as well, a great deal of suffering that
arises around our wanting, our expectations and our attitudes.
Reflect on some examples in your own life of this
suffering from meeting the unwanted.
what we want taken away from us
Dalai Lama talks eloquently of Tibetans being
refugees who have lost their countries, many separated
from family and loved ones. Have you
suffered from losing something? Someone?
Not achieving what we desire
We may exert great effort
and still end up suffering.
breaking our back working in the fields, the harvest
fails; despite working night and day at a business
venture, it is not successful.
Have you suffered
from not getting what you wanted and worked for?
Our world is not under the control we
often wish for. We don't know when trouble will
strike. Does this uncertainty create insecurity
and anxiety in you?
Furthermore, the Dalai Lama suggests that accepting suffering
as part of everyday experience requires awareness of a subtler
but profound suffering: feelings of discontent and mental
Generally speaking, for instance, you feel happy
if you or people close to you receive praise, fame, fortune,
and other pleasant things. And you feel unhappy and
discontent if you don't achieve these things or if your rival
is receiving them. If you look at your normal day-today life,
however, you often find that there are so many factors and conditions
that cause pain, suffering, and feelings of dissatisfaction.
What are some of the conditions and factors in
your day-to-day life which bring you suffering
this is the reality of our existence, our attitude towards suffering
may need to be modified. Our attitude towards suffering becomes
very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering
when it arises. Now, our usual attitude consists of an intense
aversion and intolerance of our pain and suffering. However,
if we can transform our attitude towards suffering, adopt an
attitude that allows us greater tolerance of it, then this can
do much to help counteract feelings of mental unhappiness,
dissatisfaction, and discontent.
Can you relate your own suffering to "lack of
contentment"? Above and beyond what does or does
not befall you, beyond your failures or success,
does there remain a dissatisfaction, a dis-ease?
Even when you have achieved what you have striven
How can you make the distinction between suffering,
which is inevitable, and dissatisfaction, unhappiness,
Even further, there is often suffering in the midst
of just the experiences in which we seek pleasure!
about pleasurable experiences you sought out. Can
you think of an experience where the attainment at
first was satisfying but soon became the cause of
Sometimes when we are seeking something that
we hope will offset our experience of suffering, what we identify
as pleasurable is only so in relation to the suffering we're
trying to avoid. That is, we choose something that ultimately
leads to suffering, because in the moment we think it might alleviate
a current discomfort. So our trying to avoid one suffering leads
to more suffering.
Have you ever had this
experience of being hungry and eating to eliminate
your hunger: the first mouthfuls did assuage
your hunger, but you continued to eat seeking more
pleasure and ended up with a stomach ache — with
The key to this kind of suffering is the notion of contentment.
Do you know what contentment is? How is contentment
different from pleasure?
Contentment implies being happy with what one has, as opposed
to always seeking something else to make us happy.
How is contentment related to ethical discipline