The First Noble Truth: Three Kinds of Suffering

As long as we’re living in delusion, our lives are full of suffering. If we examine our suffering deeply, we can see that in usually comes in three forms. The are usually called: Pain, Change, and Being.

1) Pain: Pain is an inevitable part of life. This isn’t just physical pain, but emotional pain as well. We might reduce or avoid our pain for a while, but we can’t escape it altogether. Mental suffering is what occurs when we don’t get what we want or we’re forced into something that we don’t want. We can’t turn away from pain, really. We can only deal with it by facing it.

2) Change: Every aspects of our lives is subject to change constantly, especially our thoughts. We wish we could stop the changes we don’t like. We sometimes try hard to make things stay the same. When we’re happy we still know that change is inevitable. We are desperate to deny the reality of change and for this reason we suffer. We try to control everything or make enemies out of everything because we’re so worried about change. Just becoming aware of our relationship to the suffering caused by change, we work on it.

3) Being: This is harder to understand. As long as we see ourselves as individuals we see ourselves as coming to an end, while the world goes on without us. We have big things that we don’t understand about the world and our place in it. This is the root of the suffering of being. We essentially suffer from confusion, not really understanding the world and our place in it.

 


 

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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, the largest virtual mindfulness community in the world. His writing has appeared in Lion's Roar, Patheos, Tattooed Buddha, and Elephant Journal.

3 Responses

  1. Alice Thompson

    #3. Being…”We essentially suffer from confusion, not really understanding the world and our place in it.” Would you expound on this as I do not understand the world and my place in it. Thank you.

  2. I too was caught up thinking about #3. The nearest I can get to understanding it is to say that if a river was the mind of the universe then a human life might be a tiny eddy in that river which swirls around for a moment and then is gone. If I think I am the eddy I am afraid of losing my self, but if I know I am part of the river I am free. “I am the unbounded deep in whom the waves of all the world’s naturally rise and fall” Ash

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