In this video, I would like to answer to a very important question: “Why are we suffering?” And to reply to this specific and a little bit advanced question, I will take the point of view of the Buddha’s diagnosis of the human predicament.
The Buddha offers a specific diagnosis of the suffering that is part of human existence. He revealed the meaning and the origin/cause of the suffering in the First Sermon at Benares entitled “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth”. In the First Two Noble Truth, Buddha diagnoses the human predicament.
Hi this Aurore Mourette and today I would like to answer to a very important question: “Why are we suffering?” And to reply to this specific and a little bit advanced question, I will take the point of view of the Buddha’s diagnosis of the human predicament.
2 days ago, I wrote an essay for the University of Princeton and this week I would like to share some very important aspects of my work.
The Buddha offers a specific diagnosis of the suffering that is part of human existence.
He revealed the meaning and the origin/cause of the suffering in the First Sermon at Benares entitled “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth”. In the First Two Noble Truth, Buddha diagnoses the human predicament.
Firstly, in the First Noble Truth, Buddha teaches us the meaning of a very important word in the “Buddhist philosophy” (or you can call it “religion”, it depends of your definition). This word is “Duhkka”, which means “suffering” and also “unsatisfactoriness in life”:
« Suffering, as a noble truth, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering — in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects.”
In the Second Noble Truth, Buddha announces the cause of Duhkka, the cause of suffering and unsatisfactoriness:
« The origin of suffering, as a noble truth, is this: It is the craving that produces renewal of being accompanied by enjoyment and lust, and enjoying this and that; in other words, craving for sensual desires, craving for being, craving for non-being.”
According to the second noble Truth, the source of Duhkka, the source of suffering and unsatisfactoriness is our craving, our attempt to hang onto things that don’t last, including pleasure.
But before to explain the notion of craving, I need to mention a very important concept in the Buddhist philosophy, which is about impermanence.
Impermanence is a very important notion in Buddhist texts. It’s the idea that nothing is permanent in the world and certainly not pleasure. All things in the World are conditioned thing, impermanent and insubstantial… Everything is moving all the time… It doesn’t exist a continuity, a stability or a constancy with the things and the people around us!
Even the pleasure tends to evaporate, and it leaves us unsatisfied. We focus on the pleasure and not on the fleetingness of the pleasure.
All of that, it’s an illusion of our mind! We’re just not getting the picture about the impermanence of things. We’re not reckoning with the truth about reality. We’re failing to see the world clearly!
And due to this believe in a permanent world, we are attached in things and people and we want to preserve a certain continuity and stability. The Buddha’s diagnosis does explicitly include attachment to our existence as part of the problem. We’re clinging to things. How can not suffer when we are so attached to impermanent things and people? Our world will never be able to give us total satisfaction! This is the source of our suffering and our unsatisfactoriness.
Besides, due to our attachment, we feel anxiety and fear. For example, we fear social criticism, we have anxiety about doing badly at some presentation we’re going to give. Everything is because we’re clinging to our social status. We are attached to our social status. And this, is the problem.
In my view, the diagnostic of the Buddha rings true to me and I don’t think the Buddha ignored some aspect of human life, or made some mistake. And to illustrate my point of view, I would like to give you two examples from my own life.
My first example is when I decided – with my husband – to leave France to go to Brazil in order to create a new company. After this decision, I realized that my future was totally uncertain and with no guarantee to live a happy life or simply, to earn any money.
I started having problems of depression and I did a burnout. Since 10 years, I was trying to develop my career in the area of sustainable development. I studied very hard for 5 years and then I worked very hard to get the position of sustainable project manager. There was a plan, a continuity and some stability. In brief, the illusion of having a permanent life. But after taking the decision to leave my job and my country, my life turned upside down. I was afraid, anxious and very stressed. In the end, all these kind of emotions exhausted my body and my mind!
My second example, it’s about the illness of my mother. Since 15 years, she has an orphan disease and each year, I’m afraid of losing her. I was and I am very attached to my mother. It is hard for me to accept, that one day, she will die. For me, this impermanent situation about my mother is a source of suffering.
So to conclude this video, I would like to say, thanks to Buddha, we know the source of our suffering, and it’s inherent to our nature… But there is hope and we can be liberate from this suffering… And if you’re interested, ask me in the comments below the video to make this video! It will be my pleasure!!
It’s the end of this video! It was Aurore Mourette and if you liked it:
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