Something is Wrong Here

We can sense a lack in our lives. We can sense it intuitively. Something is wrong. We often don’t know what’s going on, but we tend to feel like something is missing. We suffer, we experience pain and loss. Everything we need to handle what’s going on is right here, we just often fail to realize it. This state of things is the first noble truth. The pain we cause ourselves and others comes from within, form our own delusion and neuroses. And if we can’t see the problems, we often tend to just make it worse. The Buddha saw what was going on. He saw that the cause of our suffering and the way out are within us. This isn’t really about expecting our lives to be perfect as much as just paying attention to our problems and seeing where they come from. If we can do that, then we can see how we are able to relate to the world around us in a different way.

We often tend to think we have to deal with our problems by making them  disappear. But the truth is our problems will always, in some form or another, exist. We want to make ourselves happy by rearranging our circumstances, by turning reality into something other than what it is.

This is the nature of human life. We struggle, we suffer, we grow old, we die. The nature of our lives involves being unsatisfied. This is the first noble truth, the nature of human life.

Buddhism is about being honest about ourselves and the world we live in, so we are dedicated to facing the world as it really is, instead of developing elaborate fantasies to try to hide from the truth. We have to recognize that our suffering is rooted in ourselves, it comes from within. It comes out of our delusion, our failure to see things as they really are. We, instead, see reality as something we can manipulate and control. But we can’t control everything all the time. Our incessant wish for things to be different than they are, our longing, needing, craving, is what causes us to be unhappy.

There’s a fake Shakespeare (Fakespeare?) quote: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” I think that applies.

The first noble truth is that life is full of suffering, it’s inherently unsatisfying.

The second noble truth is that this suffering comes from within us. It’s caused by our own clinging and craving.

The third noble truth is that we have the ability to understanding the origin our suffering and also to overcome it.

The fourth noble truth is the path, the tools that we are using to overcome our suffering.

This is the basis of Buddhism.

 


 

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher living in Kansas City. He gives online teachings through the Open Heart Project. His writing has appeared in Lion's Roar, Patheos, Tattooed Buddha, and Elephant Journal.

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