An imposing idea of suffering, deceives an ignorant mind.
In the absence of knowledge, emotions play the most significant role in our lives.
It has become a new fad to consider life as a ‘suffering’. It is tough to say that this complaining behavior of people, towards such a grand abstract called life, is an intuitive experience or was the thought implanted in our minds from the outside. Into an ignorant and vulnerable mind such ideas always further alleviates and takes the form of ‘a complaint, to which we have unknowingly been exposed’.
In simpler terms, people are only reacting to their vulnerabilities in a negative fashion, by considering their whole lives as a curse and moving ahead on the road of spirituality; which is a matter of concern.
Life is full of ups and downs. Giving up is surely not an option when there is a possibility to switch the route. Especially when the route is providing us the guarantee, to keep secure our insecurities.
The problem with fashionable spirituality.
It seems so common among the masses that, if someone is feeling vulnerable in life, then it is a high probability that he will take a route towards the divine.
Is that a problem?
However, how can we assume to reach out the Absolute when the initial idea behind our surrender, was full of complaints towards life? It seems to me that suddenly spirituality and God became the alternative and holistic approach, solely for the purpose of gaining some peace in our lives.
The world around us is so developed and well-connected. As people have greater access to the vast amount of knowledge, their minds are also fully occupied with unrefined thoughts. These thoughts are always playing with the minds of the masses. It has become a serious situation, especially when these thoughts are so negative and pessimistic in nature. People have become ambitious yet fickle. Now, they might don’t know a thing about anything, yet they believe that they are the authority of the said subject. That’s the kind of vulnerability our minds are carrying all around.
Our minds has become an insecurity generator. It is a highly potent organ, yet it makes us feel like a ‘degenerate’. Who is there to blame? Is there someone outside? No. Yet one can easily trace the origin behind idea of pessimism, residing in our minds by contemplating over it. But that is the core issue, we are talking over here.
We don’ contemplate when we are needed to or we don’t have a developed insight to contemplate over such topics.
Spirituality – The right beginning.
People usually take the first step of surrender or contemplation, without even realizing its importance. On the other side, this first step of realization always starts with having an abstract idea of discontent and disharmony, prevalent all over in our lives. If a person is able to determine this discontent, all by himself then he surely can be considered as ‘spiritual’.
When a person is able to realize this unharmonious state within our minds, he ‘naturally’ turns towards something which feels more peaceful. That is where people move on and put efforts to look for the state of tranquility. This is the time when people learn about their lives. That is how people would often start to realize about the unnatural state of their lives and start to feel that life is indeed a suffering. That is where spirituality starts when this realization occurs, all by itself.
But how many people are able to imbibe this first step of growth, in a natural manner? Unfortunately, not many.
It is dangerous to tell a seemingly less experienced person, about the life or its sufferings.
Suffering is so addictive in nature. People are always afraid to lose their painful sensations; even when they are all defeated in their lives.
As our mind always takes calculated risks, it is of no wonder that we do not care to bare everything in front of our own soul. Instead we always take a shorter route and echo the age old metaphors related to reality of life. A question arises here that how effective is this path of realization which is based upon following the realization of others?
What I am stating here is that majority of people can only relate on an inferior level while going through the teachings of the realized beings. At most of the times, people easily fail to contemplate over the essence of these teachings. Without the needed experience or growth within the realms of meditation, these teachings are much harder to understand. But the spiritual ego of the people always pushes them. People might find it hard to understand the essence, yet they feel that they can somehow are able to relate with the teachings.
As normal people would always go on, relating with these teachings according to their own understanding and experiences; the results often come in the form of complaining and looking at the world, full of agony. Which is a major concern.
Well, it seems no wonder to me that these teachings were well preserved within certain books or within certain minds, for very long periods of time in the human history.
A deception, only appears to someone who has become independent from that deception.
My childhood learnings about ‘Suffering’.
I still remember that in my childhood, we studied about the ‘Four Noble Truths’ in our early schooling days. We always use to score an easy ‘2 marks’ by answering the questions related to the principle teachings of Buddha.
Usually the most common question related to this topic was; ‘What is the First Noble Truth’ of Buddha? To which we gladly write it on our answer sheets that ‘Life is a suffering’. Answer this rather simple yet a subtle answer taught, us about how to look at things in a superficial manner.
Well, before concluding with this topic, we need a to talk a bit about Buddha. What is the meaning of Buddha and why his teachings are the most significant work in the spiritual realm?
Buddha: A teacher of all the Gods, Enlightened and Sentient beings.
Around 2500 years ago, a human being named Siddhartha attained the state of Absolute Enlightenment under the banyan tree [ bodhi tree] in the city of Bodhgaya, India. We know this individual as Gautama or Shakyamuni; the man who became a” Buddha”. But what is the definition of a Buddha?
In the Therevada tradition of Buddhism, an enlightened being can be categorized in three levels.
- Arhat – Arhats are the first one among the ladder of 3 types of enlightened beings. They don’t have any karmic dues left, which can force them to take a rebirth. In simpler terms, they are free from the cycle of rebirth.
- Pratyeka Buddha or Pacceka Buddha – These Enlightened beings prefer to stays alone. They are more of a private person and avoid social contacts.
- Samma Sam Buddha – The Buddha, is such a rare phenomenon to occur, that it has been mentioned at several places that there cannot be two Buddhas at the same time or in the same era. Unlike the Pratyeka Buddha, the Samma Sam Buddha always spread his teachings for all the sentient beings present in the form of men and Gods. Such is the intensity of truth and such is the intensity of compassion, a Buddha beholds.
Buddha’s teachings, which are highly practical and logical, are the proof of supreme teaching capabilities of a Buddha, which are second to none. Consider, that this is not a school class we are talking about here. We are discussing about the only single attainable truth, which every philosophical school always aspire to attain.
However, many of these teachings by Buddha were given to people who were well ahead with their knowledge about spirituality. We can easily provide this claim considering their dedicated efforts towards meditation. His first teaching or sermon is the perfect example of this situation.
The 4 Noble Truths.
The first sermon of Shakyamuni Buddha is known as ‘DhammaChakkaPravartana Sutta’, which means ‘setting in motion of the wheel of Dhamma’. Among the most famous and also a highly important teaching in this Sutta is called the ‘4 Noble Truths’. The four noble truths of Buddha are as follows:
- Dukkha [Pali] means Suffering – ‘Suffering is an innate characteristic of existence. If someone ‘exists’, then one will also suffer.
- Samyudaya [Pali] means Origin – Desire is the cause of suffering.
- Nirodha [Pali] means Ending or Cessation – An ending to this suffering is possible if we can eliminate or renounce our desires.
- Magga [Pali] means Path – The Noble Eightfold Path developed by Buddha, leads to the elimination of all desires, resulting in the cessation of every kind of suffering.
The ‘DhammaChakkPravartan Sutta’, was the first sermon given by Buddha after he attained a perfect enlightenment. The sermon was narrated to five ascetics who were highly advanced meditation practitioners. It has been mentioned, that these five ascetics had been former companions of Buddha in the past; while Buddha was still struggling to attain the state of an Absolute Enlightenment. Before reaching enlightenment, he had gone through severe meditation and austerities along with these same 5 ascetics.
This fact leads us to a very important realization. It informs us that all of these ascetics were advanced practitioners of meditation. Hence, their insight has been vastly developed unlike many of the normal civilians of today’s generation. Unlike many, they were far more intuitive and receptive. Hence they were able to relate with the direct teachings of Buddha on a much higher ground.
The Increasing role of suffering in our lives is a matter of concern.
Now it might sound unfortunate to compare ascetics with a normal civilian. But it surely becomes a point of concern, when the civilians try to follow the same path without developing ‘any kind of insight’.
As I mentioned above that how I came across with the deepest teachings of Buddha in our schools as a part of a history lesson. I think it would be much better that if the same teachings can be taught by a Monk. Unfortunately, our education system only teaches spirituality labeling these as our history.
Is it fine to take spirituality in a casual manner?
Although, it can be argued that it is completely fine to learn about the important events of history. It can also be said that while we discuss about various philosophies in a casual manner; it also equip us with greater chances towards gaining spiritual ascension. I must say that ‘Indeed it is true’.
However, my concern is not limited with me complaining about ‘learning of Buddha’s teachings in school’. It is much more than that. It is about the ‘awareness of the listener’.
Always consider the credibility of the 5 ascetics, who were the listeners of the Buddha’s first sermon. This is simplest method to realise about the gravitas of the subject. It easily signifies the importance of the words used by Buddha, as the 5 ascetics whose minds were full of conflicted insight; immediately attained enlightenment while listening and contemplating over the sermon.
Life is NOT a 'suffering'.
Is there a problem to consider life as a suffering? Indeed YES.
One can’t make an opinion which is not based upon our own true experiences. If one chooses to follow the words of others, it will eventually take someone to the land of imagination where even the spiritual enlightenment can be attained in our dreams.
In the absence of knowledge, emotions play the most significant role in our lives. No wonder, that people are being driven by their emotions. The thoughts in their mind always hold an idea about something, which is one way or another, feels saturating towards the idea of their own existence. Isn’t this process of thought generation harmful to us? Yes. It is. But this realization should come to us intuitively. We can’t even hope that people would realize the truth and raise their awareness, all in few moments. It takes time and it takes conscious efforts from an individual.
However, we can’t imagine abundance in our lives if we assume it to be a suffering. By following a school of thought, people are actually feeling divided within themselves. Their imagination fails to imagine as grand as something as Absolute, God or the Supreme. Yet they are not allowed to feel failed in their miserable journeys, and probably this is what people commonly call as ‘Spiritual Ego’.
The next degenerative step rises, when people start to imagine various ‘divine happenings’ around them. Their minds try to relate with the pleasureable aspect of the teachings, as the pleasure is the only known emotion which our limited minds can relate with. In fact it is quiet safe to assume that our minds can only evaluate situations on the basis of pleasure and pain. Isn’t it? It might sound primitive to the grown intellect of human mind but unfortunately this is the truth.
We surely are free to get exposed to the various ideas, which indeed sound nothing else but ‘pessimistic’.
However, it is also true that the fruit of Absolute positivity always germinates in the darkness of pessimism. Hence, one needs to surrender in totality, while he chooses to follow any philosophy. Yet one also needs to be careful and ‘sane enough’, to not get influenced in a blinded state.
Go on and ask question. But always remember to not raise your questions in a compulsive manner. Go on and learn to be wise towards others. But first of all, it is all about you who deserves the state of happiness and content. After which, every other learning shall follow by itself.