Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pain and suffering

"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." - Sylvia Boorstein in It's Easier Than You Think : The Buddhist Way to Happiness

The Buddha articulated this idea using the term "dukkha," which refers to feelings of anguish, suffering, anxiety, despondence, sadness, sorrow and discomfort. The first of the Four Noble Truths states that "All of life involves dukkha."

This sounds terribly hopeless and depressing, but the Buddha's teachings provide techniques for minimizing dukkha. This is why the second, third and fourth of the Four Noble Truths provide a roadmap to happiness.

The Four Noble Truths are:

Dukkha: All of life involves suffering.
Samudaya: Suffering is caused by unnecessary (unhealthy) attachment and desire.
Nirodha: The is a way out of suffering is to eliminate attachment and desire.
Magga: The path that leads out of suffering is called the Noble Eightfold Path.

Pain is an evitable part of life, yes, but there is relief, and each of us can achieve such relief. It is a matter of changing our way of thinking, letting go of thoughts of consumption and acquisition and instead embracing thoughts of love, giving and acceptance.

This is what I aspire to do.

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