We all know how happiness can cause immeasurable pain when it all ends suddenly often without warning. So the obvious question is why do we bother chasing it in the first place?
I recently participated in postgraduate work as an “Introduction to Buddhism” It was fascinating, considering I have an undergraduate and postgraduate degree from a theological background and being Australian with a westerner mindset. The text below is from ” The Foundations of Buddhism” author Rupert Gethin page 50
‘The orientation of the Buddha’s teaching What did the Buddha teach? The early suttas present the Buddha’s teaching as the solution to a problem. This problem is the fundamental problem of life. In Sanskrit and Pali, the problem is termed duhkka/dukkha, which can be approximately translated as ‘suffering’. In a Nikaya passage, the Buddha thus states that he has always made known just two things, namely suffering and the cessation of suffering.1 This statement can be regarded as expressing the basic orientation of Buddhism for all times and all places. Its classic formulation is by way of ‘four noble truths’: the truth of the nature of suffering, the truth of the nature of its cause, the truth of the nature of its cessation, and the truth of the nature of the path leading to its cessation. One of the earliest summary statements of the truths is as follows:’
The Buddha taught that all emotions cause dukkha, translated suffering. More from Gethin page 61
‘The world becomes a place of uncertainty in which we can never be sure what is going to happen next, ‘a place of shifting and unstable conditions whose very nature is such that we can never feel entirely at ease in it. Here we are confronted with dukkha in a form that seems to be inherent in the nature of our existence its self-dukkha as conditions. To put it another way, I may be relaxing in a comfortable armchair after a long, tiring day, but part of the reason I am enjoying it so much is precise because I had such a long, tiring day. How long will it be bef9re I am longing to get up and do something again-half an hour, an hour, two hours?’
The suffering when its referred to “dukkha” in the Buddhist traditions is more than our understanding of the word generally speaking.
- “Disturbance, irritation, dejection, worry, despair; fear, dread, anguish, anxiety; vulnerability, injury, inability, inferiority; sickness, ageing, decay of body and faculties, senility; pain/pleasure; excitement/boredom; deprivation/excess; desire/frustration, suppression; longing/aimlessness; hope/hopelessness; effort, activity, striving/repression; loss, want, insufficiency/satiety; love/lovelessness, friendlessness; dislike, aversion/attraction; parenthood/childlessness; submission/rebellion; decision/indecisiveness, vacillation, uncertainty”
The Buddhist teaching is not miserable or talking about mortality and pain all the time. However, it encourages one to look at there own internal world and look at the external world honestly and accepting reality for what it is. You have to face reality to gain real contentment. You cannot hide from the truth of life. We all die and we all suffer in many different ways. However, we all can live life to its fullest and not hide from the truth. Happiness and balance are in accepting reality.
Discovering balance in our emotional world and silence, in often stressful modern life, is challenging. We can learn meditation from authentic practitioners. We can do wholesome life-giving activities. We can start today by considering our values, or look at our choices. Clearly, addictive behaviour or unbalanced relationships and excessive work commitments have to be worked on.
I have learned so much from my Introduction to Buddism and could write much more, However, I like to keep my blogs succinct. To all my follower and whoever reads this, I hope you find the courage to take what steps necessary to balance your life better.
The picture below is like a schematic from the teaching of The Historical Buddha. It is not linear like this and presented as a wheel culturally. They called the Dharma, you may find it fascinating. Remembering the whole thing relates to the monastics and the rules they live by which is over 250 in some traditions. The layperson or householder is only expected to keep the 5 precepts on the right in the blue box titled Right Acts.