The Reality of Suffering

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Everything changes

The Dalai Lama does not minimize the difficulty of confronting suffering directly. It can help to remember that our experiences are not permanent — all phenomena change.

In the previous lesson you learned that our experiences arise within a context of innumerable causes and conditions which themselves are continually changing, due to causes and conditions.

Recognizing this helps us avoid the false illusion that the causes of joy and sorrow are simple to identify. The Dalai Lama urges us:

It's extremely important to investigate the causes or origins of suffering — how it arises. Since it is the nature of all phenomena to change every moment, this indicates to us that all things lack the ability to remain the same. And since all things are subject to change, nothing exists in a permanent condition, nothing is able to remain the same under its own independent power.

Think of some situation or event in your life now that is the source of pleasure or happiness. Think of some situation or event is your life now that is the source of pain or suffering. Now consider that at this moment — at any given moment — no matter how pleasant or unpleasant your experience may be, it will not last.

Life is change. The degree that we refuse to accept this fact and resist the natural life changes, we will continue to perpetuate our own suffering. The acceptance of change can be an important factor in reducing a large measure of our self-created suffering.

Do you become happy as soon as you come into contact with something that you consider good? Do you suffer whenever you come into contact with something "bad"?

Do you think reality is such that it makes sense to become attached to one kind of person or thing or event that you define as positive and to spurn and be negative about all others?

Reality is not that clearly defined and settled.