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Dec 22, 2010

The Practical Way Out of Suffering

by Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka
"How the lives of all living beings are infused with dukkha (suffering)! We cannot even imagine how great is the suffering of all sentient beings. In this tiny span of time while I am engaged in speaking these sentences, on this earth countless smaller beings are being devoured and crushed in bloody jaws; they are being ruthlessly swallowed without any pity. Can we ever measure their agony, their pain, their dukkha?
Even if we leave aside the suffering of the sentient beings of the animal kingdom, how immeasurable and limitless is the dukkha of man alone? In this one moment of existence, how many sick people in the hospitals of the world are groaning in agony? How many, having sensed impending death, are crying in vain, in fear and anguish? How many, at the loss of their wealth, prestige, their position, their power, are beset at this moment with pain? Who can have any reason for not accepting the truth of suffering while living in this universe where there is suffering everywhere?
We certainly do not wish to say that in life there is only dukkha and not a vestige of any pleasure. But are the pleasures of the senses really something that can be called happiness? Does not that glitter of happiness contain within it the shadow of pain? There is no sensual pleasure which is permanent, unchanging, everlasting. There is not a single pleasure in the sensual sphere which one can enjoy with satisfaction forever. All pleasures are impermanent, are changing, must come to an end. Whatever is impermanent is unsatisfactory, after all. When we get attached to something because it seems pleasurable to us, how great is the sorrow when that pleasure is no more; the pain becomes intense.
In the eyes of the world, a person may be considered very happy or even consider himself very happy. How long do people enjoy such pleasures? How quickly does the momentary brightness turn to darkness! As much as a person gets involved in and attached to these pleasures, to the same degree he involves himself in inevitable suffering. But one who enjoys pleasantness with detachment-clearly understanding its impermanent nature-is always safe from the suffering when pleasure ends. Therefore, while enjoying these pleasures, if we are aware of their changing, impermanent nature, if we are aware of the inherent dukkha in them, then we remain free of the pain that comes along when these pleasures end. To see dukkha in our pleasures is to see the truth which destroys dukkha; this is a righteous way of life which ensures our well-being.
The purpose of seeing the truth of dukkha is that as soon as the dukkha raises its head, we see it, we apprehend it, and at once extinguish the fire of this dukkha so it cannot spread. If we are aware of the dukkha involved in attachment to pleasure, then we will not allow the fire to spread. While enjoying the pleasure, we will tend not to get tense or excited, and when the pleasure ends, even then we won't become miserable, because all along we have understood the ephemeral nature of pleasure. So, the ceasing of the pleasure does not necessarily become a cause for suffering.
Everyone, without any exception, experiences some of the truth of suffering, but it is only when the suffering is experienced and observed objectively, rather than indulged in, that the truth of it becomes beneficial. Then it becomes a Noble Truth. To cry, to whimper, to writhe in pain because of some physical suffering is, no doubt, seeing the truth of suffering, but to observe and understand the suffering underlying the apparent enjoyment of boisterous laughter, wine and song is to really see the Noble Truth of suffering.
As long as we are unable to observe the real nature of sense pleasures, we shall continue to cling to them, we shall continue to yearn for them-and this is, after all, the main cause of all our suffering.
So, if we are to fully understand, fully comprehend dukkha, then we have to understand and consider the subtle reality. At the level of experience, within the framework of one's own body, one observes the transitory, impermanent nature of reality and thus realizes the nature of the entire mind-matter universe. The world of the senses is impermanent, and whatever is impermanent is suffering.
To understand and to observe this reality is to comprehend, to appreciate the First Noble Truth; and it is this understanding of the Noble Truth of suffering which can take us toward freedom from all suffering."
- For full article 'The Practical Way Out of Suffering' http://www.vridhamma.org/en2003-11
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