Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thoughts on the word "suffering".

Watched the documentary "The Four Noble Thruths" at .

Different people from different traditions commenting gathering to think about bringing eastern buddhism
to the west, discussing the importance of The Four Noble Truths.

The Four Noble Truths are:
  1. The truth of dukkha
  2. The truth of the origin of dukkha
  3. The truth of the cessation of dukkha
  4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha
Dukkha is most often translated to "suffering".

But the way we see suffering in the western world is most often bodily suffering, or suffering from mental illness.

A better translation would be ïmperfection"or "inbalance".

This brings buddhism closer to people, because even though many people consider themselves to have suffered from life, suffering is also a kind of far away from our feelings. Suffering is a kind of upper step, one of the most serious forms of unwanted experience.
When looking at other religions one sees that even God is not able to take away suffering from people.

Buddhism doesn't take change outward, to God or the angels, but lies change within ourselves.
We have to practice daily, on a continuous basis, on being a good person and dealing with life as it is.
We are solely responsible for our own happiness.
Buddha just gave us some guidance, but we have to do it ourselves. We can't pray and ask to take unwanted things away. There's no magic to be expected. Just human hard labour.

I think imperfection and inbalance are better translations, and when we put the word "perceived" in from of those concepts it's even better.
We don't mind not perceived imperfections, and when we can learn not to be disturbed by imperfections we can deal with them, or just accept them and be happy with them, we won't perceive them anymore.

Imperfections and inbalance not only lies the experience closer to us, it also makes it (psychologically) easier to deal with.
Interesting is that suffering is a definition that takes into account our inner experience and attitude, creating a feeling of helplessness, and inbalace is more of a description of something outside us. It says something of the outer world, not something of what happens inside us.

To me this translation and definition opens up the possibility that I can deal with the world around me, that I can stay calm even when things happen to me I don't like at all.

It brings me to the second Truth.
It states: the origin of suffering is attachment to the three kinds of desire:
  • desire for sense pleasure (kama tanha),
  • desire to become (bhava tanha) and
  • desire to get rid of (vibhava tanha)
The third Truth states that there's an end to "suffering".
    The origin of "suffering" has no need to bring my personal balance in jeopardy when I'm able to reach the right understanding of what's happening.
    It's like diagnosing an illness by a physician: description, analysing the causes and taking the most relevant solution to get rid of the disease. It might need medication, but more often it's the way we perceive the disease which heals us or which makes us cope with the problems.

    When we perceive imperfection or inbalance we feel the desire to change it.
    This inner longing makes us experience the imperfection/inbalance as a problem.
    When we can loose that inner longing we can reach the next step: cessation of the problem.

    Buddha guides us through the process in the Fourth Noble Truth, about the right path, through the Noble Eightfold Path.
    It consists of 8 elements:
    1. Right View,
    2. Right Intention, 
    3. Right Speech, 
    4. Right Action, 
    5. Right Livelihood, 
    6. Right Effort, 
    7. Right Mindfulness,
    8. Right Concentration.
    This interwoven theory opens up a world of practice.
    We can try every day, learn and try again.
    As long as we make progress in our development it's OK.

    Changing the word "suffering" into "inbalance" or "imperfection" gives us a learning opportunity of even the slightest experieces of concerns. It gives us hope. We can deal with minor things, so we can practice on more serious problems. And maybe we can even tackle real suffering.

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