Is Life Really Suffering?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Yana
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Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Yana »

Hi everyone,

I heard this was the first noble truth.Life is Suffering.

But.. I don't understand..I know Life can really suck sometimes but I don't suffer ALL THE TIME.

Sometimes i'm happy because i got a new present.

Sometimes I'm sad because someone hurt me.

And sometimes i just feel peace and bliss or just feeling content after reading something about the Dhamma or meditating.

How can all these three things be Dukkha?

Is All Life suffering or is it just parts of it?

Thanks :smile:
Life is preparing for Death

befriend
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by befriend »

eyes, ears, nose, touch etcc.... are pleasuable and enjoyable. life contains suffering. im not sure as to why the first noble truth is life is suffering. maybe it has something to do with samsara being suffering compared to nibbana. just guessing.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

darvki
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by darvki »

Life is suffering only when the conditions for suffering are present.

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mikenz66
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Yana,
Yana wrote: Sometimes i'm happy because i got a new present.

Sometimes I'm sad because someone hurt me.

And sometimes i just feel peace and bliss or just feeling content after reading something about the Dhamma or meditating.

How can all these three things be Dukkha?
"Suffering" is not the only thing implied by dukkha:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .piya.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"The Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha), monks, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering — in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering.
All those pleasant things are ultimately unsatisfactory, since they don't last (as implied in the quote).

:anjali:
Mike

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cooran
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by cooran »

Hello Yana, all,

As Mike alludes to in his post,it is not that everything is suffering - it is that nothing lasts. Every exciting and happy experience ends. Anicca - Impermanence.

This chapter might assist - in Walpola Rahula's book 'What the Buddha Taught' is ch.2 The First Noble Truth: Dukkha

http://www.dhammaweb.net/books/Dr_Walpo ... Taught.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Aloka
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Aloka »

Yana wrote:Hi everyone,

I heard this was the first noble truth.Life is Suffering.

But.. I don't understand..I know Life can really suck sometimes but I don't suffer ALL THE TIME.

Sometimes i'm happy because i got a new present.

Sometimes I'm sad because someone hurt me.

And sometimes i just feel peace and bliss or just feeling content after reading something about the Dhamma or meditating.

How can all these three things be Dukkha?

Is All Life suffering or is it just parts of it?

Thanks :smile:
Hi Yana,

In my opinion its mistaken to think that life itself is suffering, because that isn't always the case.

We can suffer because of dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, craving,and various kinds of mental pain through not getting what we want. There is also physical pain and illness from time to time including getting old and dying. However situations and feelings change, and as you have mentioned we can also have times when we feel peaceful and more expansive and at ease. These can be extended with practice which includes acceptance of the way life is with its ups and downs, rather than making it a mental struggle for ourselves.

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ground
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by ground »

To consider life as being dukkha is within the sphere of right view.
He knows without doubt or hesitation that whatever arises is merely dukkha[8] that what passes away is merely dukkha and such knowledge is his own, not depending on anyone else. This, Kaccaayana, is what constitutes right view.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Now ...

Question: "Is right view really right?"

Answer: "In the context of liberation from dukkha right view is called right."


Kind regards

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Aloka
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Aloka »

It isn't life itself that's suffering, its the ignorance and attachment that are the causes of the suffering.

Here's an article "Life isn't just suffering " by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... eisnt.html

Excerpt:
It's hard to imagine what you could accomplish by saying that life is suffering. You'd have to spend your time arguing with people who see more than just suffering in life.

The Buddha himself says as much in one of his discourses. A brahman named Long-nails (Dighanakha) comes to him and announces that he doesn't approve of anything. This would have been a perfect time for the Buddha, if he had wanted, to chime in with the truth that life is suffering. Instead, he attacks the whole notion of taking a stand on whether life is worthy of approval. There are three possible answers to this question, he says: (1) nothing is worthy of approval, (2) everything is, and (3) some things are and some things aren't. If you take any of these three positions, you end up arguing with the people who take either of the other two positions. And where does that get you?
:)

Sarva
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Sarva »

Hi Yana
I found it useful to understand that dukkha (suffering/disastifaction) doesn't need to be limited to my experience but we can make other suffer through our actions. So I am interested in Dharma to try to reduce my impact on others in life too. For example, downloading music instead of paying for it may result in employees suffering redundancy in local music shops. Or I may start watching TV at 3am but my neighbours are old and waking them means they don't sleep again, they suffer through my actions. So we are also trying to reduce suffering for others through our practice of mindfullness.

Of course we don't need to be buddhists, we can enjoy life's pleasures and dharma will be there when we are ready. But the times we are down can accumulate to a point when we want to stop the 'down' times. :)

Metta
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86

pegembara
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by pegembara »

Yana wrote:Hi everyone,

I heard this was the first noble truth.Life is Suffering.

But.. I don't understand..I know Life can really suck sometimes but I don't suffer ALL THE TIME.

Sometimes i'm happy because i got a new present.

Sometimes I'm sad because someone hurt me.

And sometimes i just feel peace and bliss or just feeling content after reading something about the Dhamma or meditating.

How can all these three things be Dukkha?

Is All Life suffering or is it just parts of it?

Thanks :smile:
What is the Noble Truth of Suffering? Birth is suffering, aging is suffering,
sickness is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get
what one wants is suffering: in short the five categories affected by clinging
are suffering.

Note that it is not stated that life is suffering. Life is suffering only if we make it so. Why? Because we are always not feeling contented or fulfilled.

The Pali word, dukkha, means "incapable of satisfying" or "not
able to bear or withstand anything": always changing, incapable
of truly fulfilling us or making us happy. The sensual world is like
that, a vibration in nature. It would, in fact, be terrible if we did find
satisfaction in the sensory world because then we wouldn’t search
beyond it; we’d just be bound to it. However, as we awaken to this
dukkha, we begin to find the way out so that we are no longer
constantly trapped in sensory consciousness.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Jason
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Jason »

Yana wrote:Hi everyone,

I heard this was the first noble truth.Life is Suffering.

But.. I don't understand..I know Life can really suck sometimes but I don't suffer ALL THE TIME.

Sometimes i'm happy because i got a new present.

Sometimes I'm sad because someone hurt me.

And sometimes i just feel peace and bliss or just feeling content after reading something about the Dhamma or meditating.

How can all these three things be Dukkha?

Is All Life suffering or is it just parts of it?

Thanks :smile:
Here's something I wrote a while back, if you're interested:
It's often said that Buddhism is a pessimistic religion in that it teaches life is nothing but suffering (i.e., suffering is the only true reality) and denies any kind of happiness or joy. While a common enough criticism, I think it's not only unfair but completely untrue.

For starters, when people say that Buddhism teaches 'life is suffering,' this is mostly likely referring to a misunderstanding of the Pali phrase, "Sabbe pi dukkham" (All is dukkha).

The first noble truth states that, in short, the five clinging-aggregate (panca-upadana-khandha) are dukkha (SN 56.11), i.e., it's the clinging in reference to the aggregates that's dukkha, not the aggregates themselves.

In SN 35.23, the Buddha defines 'the all' (sabbam) as the eye and forms, ear and sounds, nose and aromas, tongue and flavours, body and tactile sensations and intellect and ideas. According to the commentaries, dukkha is defined as 'that which is hard to bear.'

Moreover, in SN 35.24, the Buddha defines 'the all' as a phenomenon to be abandoned [via the abandonment of greed/passion (raga) in regard to the six sense media]. Without the presence of greed/passion in regard to the six sense-media, they're no longer 'difficult to bear.' This is a far cry from the blanket statement 'life is suffering.'

As for the claim that Buddhism denies happiness, the suttas are full of references to various forms of bliss, joy, pleasure, rapture, etc., especially in relation to various states of meditative absorption (jhana).

In AN 5.28, for example, the pleasure (sukha) and rapture (piti) experienced in first jhana is said to be "born from withdrawal [from the hindrances], accompanied by directed thought and evaluation." In the second jhana, a more refined form of pleasure and rapture is said to be "born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation."

Then there's the "pleasant abiding" of the third jhana where one "permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture, so that there is nothing of his entire body unpervaded with pleasure divested of rapture," and the fourth where one sits "permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness, so that there is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness."

Additionally, in AN 4.62, there's mention of "four kinds of bliss" that can be attained by a householder "partaking of sensuality" (i.e., indulging in a non-contemplative lifestyle): the bliss of having, the bliss of wealth, the bliss of debtlessness and the bliss of blamelessness.

And of course, there's nibbana, "the highest bliss" (Dhp 204).

Far from being a joyless path, Buddhism embraces pleasure and happiness. But the type of pleasure the Buddha advocates is one that doesn't come at the expense of, or place any burdens upon, others.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Cittasanto
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Cittasanto »

it would be more accurate to say, There is Dukkha.
Dukkha has a a wide veriety of meanings, not just suffering, which is a course aspect.
The definition in the canon is more like an slightly buckled wheel, it is still usable, but not working correctly....

certainly there is pleasure, but it is the impermanent nature of these pleasures which make them unsatisfactory (Dukkha) and sure there are increadibly painful situations which are obviously stressful (Dukkha), this should show just how wide Dukkha is.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
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Alex123
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Alex123 »

befriend wrote:eyes, ears, nose, touch etcc.... are pleasuable and enjoyable. life contains suffering. im not sure as to why the first noble truth is life is suffering. maybe it has something to do with samsara being suffering compared to nibbana. just guessing.

If you have functional eyes then you can see scary or unpleasant sights. If you have working ears then you can hear someone verbally abusing you.
For the sake of sense pleasures we can do a lot of things that we will later regret...

Even if we attain sense pleasures, they will pass. And the more sense pleasures pass, the worse it feels in contrast. Often Pleasure is measured by how much pain preceded it, and pain is compared to amount of pleasure that has ceased.

  • Whatever is felt is included in suffering.” (yaṃ kiñci vedayitaṃ taṃ dukkhasmi) - SN36.11
    "All Formations are dukkha" (Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā) - Dhp 278
Please note "Whatever" and "All" . They mean just that. It is not that case that only unwholesome things are dukkha. All, good or bad, things are included.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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tiltbillings
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by tiltbillings »

Alex123 wrote:
befriend wrote:eyes, ears, nose, touch etcc.... are pleasuable and enjoyable. life contains suffering. im not sure as to why the first noble truth is life is suffering. maybe it has something to do with samsara being suffering compared to nibbana. just guessing.

If you have functional eyes then you can see scary or unpleasant sights. If you have working ears then you can hear someone verbally abusing you.
For the sake of sense pleasures we can do a lot of things that we will later regret...

Even if we attain sense pleasures, they will pass. And the more sense pleasures pass, the worse it feels in contrast. Often Pleasure is measured by how much pain preceded it, and pain is compared to amount of pleasure that has ceased.

  • Whatever is felt is included in suffering.” (yaṃ kiñci vedayitaṃ taṃ dukkhasmi) - SN36.11
    "All Formations are dukkha" (Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā) - Dhp 278
Please note "Whatever" and "All" . They mean just that. It is not that case that only unwholesome things are dukkha. All, good or bad, things are included.
Depends upon how one defines dukkha.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Alex123
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Re: Is Life Really Suffering?

Post by Alex123 »

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
befriend wrote:eyes, ears, nose, touch etcc.... are pleasuable and enjoyable. life contains suffering. im not sure as to why the first noble truth is life is suffering. maybe it has something to do with samsara being suffering compared to nibbana. just guessing.

If you have functional eyes then you can see scary or unpleasant sights. If you have working ears then you can hear someone verbally abusing you.
For the sake of sense pleasures we can do a lot of things that we will later regret...

Even if we attain sense pleasures, they will pass. And the more sense pleasures pass, the worse it feels in contrast. Often Pleasure is measured by how much pain preceded it, and pain is compared to amount of pleasure that has ceased.

  • Whatever is felt is included in suffering.” (yaṃ kiñci vedayitaṃ taṃ dukkhasmi) - SN36.11
    "All Formations are dukkha" (Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā) - Dhp 278
Please note "Whatever" and "All" . They mean just that. It is not that case that only unwholesome things are dukkha. All, good or bad, things are included.
Depends upon how one defines dukkha.
If one still has saṅkhārā and can still vedayitaṃ, then there is dukkha inherent in them. Only parinibbāna is total and final cessation of all kinds of dukkha.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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