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Thai Amulet Pendant Buddha Face Phra BuddhaPhak 95cm Holy Powder Wat BangWeak
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Holy Buddha

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From the Holy Buddhist Tipitaka: Sutta Pitaka - Samyutta Nikaya

A Brief Introduction to Suffering in Buddhism

Suffering is the fundamental tenet of Buddhism. It is the first of the four holy truths and is the fundamental of the holy truths. It is a mighty concept to which whole books can be devoted to. A small way of describing it is as follows:

“What then is the Holy Truth of ill? Birth is ill, decay is ill, sickness is ill, death is ill. To be conjoined with what one dislikes is suffering. To be disjoined with what one dislikes is suffering. To be disjoined with what one likes means suffering. Not to get one wants, also that means suffering. In short, all grasping at (any of) the five skandhas (involves suffering)” (majjhima nikaya 141)

We always tend to think that there is some happiness that can be found in life. However, all of us tend to suffer. And we do not realize this. As the Buddha put it, it is one of the most difficult truths to ever understand. Some of the ways in which suffering can be understood is as follows:

- Something, while pleasant, involves the suffering of others – Roasted Duck is pleasant as long as the feelings of the duck are ignored.

- Something, while pleasant, is tied up with anxiety, and with a sense of losing it – The minute we tend to get attached to something, we are afraid of losing it. A beautiful woman is always worried about losing her beauty, caused by age. A powerful businessman or a minister is always afraid of losing his position.

- Something, while pleasant, binds us to conditions that will eventually cause suffering. In the very fact that we are born lies the inevitable truth of death, the truth that we are going to die some day.

- Something, while pleasant, is too transient to provide any real pleasure for a lengthy period of time. It might be sexual pleasure, it might be fame, it might be something else – nothing gives everlasting pleasure or content – because all of them are temporary or transient.

This whole approach to suffering may be viewed as too pessimistic an approach to life. However, the basic philosophy behind the theology is that emptiness and contentedness give a person more and everlasting pleasures than activities that are bound to create transient attachments and temporary pleasures. This is the reason why Buddhism lays stress on meditation and peaceful contemplation as a way to curb one’s attachment toward worldly pleasures. The eventual cessation of such transient desires eventually leads one to the path of salvation.

Prithviraj is a researcher into the origins and history of Buddhism and other religions and cultures. Visit his site to know more about
History of Buddhism
,
Buddhist Timeline
, and other concepts of Buddhism.

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