Author Topic: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?  (Read 25562 times)


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2012, 04:16:56 AM »
I am going to say something terrible but mean it...

Noone can stay happy throughout their entire life on Earth. It's the nature of samsara, right?

Their wealth will deplete, their health will decline, unexpected things may happen to them... I'm not cursing, these are all just possibilities.

So without forcing impermanence, death etc down their throats.... you know they won't listen when times are good, so be there will things are grim.

ie be their friend and confidante when all is great and successful and when things fall, you're there to pick them up!

Otherwise how to explain suffering when they sleep on 750TC sheets!

Dear Jessica,

There is such a thing as 750TC sheets?? Just joking! I have only experienced 500TC!

Yes, I agree with you that be their friend and confidante when all is great and successful and when things fall, you're there to pick them up! I have experienced many who turn around and say "I am doing fine. Everything is well and happy for me. I am comfortable. Why should I add more things and complications to my life?"

You can only give examples of impermanence to them using real life cases (which you think they can relate to such as downfall of some businessmen, sudden death of actors, aging,etc). They may understand but unlikely to comprehend the nature of suffering. It is really sad and scary at the same time for them. My solution: be there when they need you. Meanwhile, pray that they are well and happy for this is their level for now.


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2012, 08:00:56 AM »
Needs no explanation. We just have to check our lives daily to see if we are really happy. If one day we are and one day we are not then we are definitely suffering. Even if one minute we are happy and the other minute we are not, we are still suffering.  Why? If life is not suffering then we should be happy always right?

Another way to check is how we live our lives. Do we live for ourselves or for others? We suffer because of our attachments, desire, etc but when we live for other we let go of all of those. So are you suffering?


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2012, 09:13:04 AM »
Dear Big Uncle,
I've came across these situation many times. I do face difficulty sometimes But I do find some ways are useful. I'm sure as a friend they share thier happy and unhappy moments with you. What I do is I listen carefully to them and I give dharma advice in between our conversation that is relevant to the subject and never put Bhuddism upfront rather I blend the situation with Buddhism. When they find that the advice are useful they would be interested to know more. When that happens, we can relate to them how others have managed to overcome certain unhappiness by learning the dharma and I believe it would be much easier when they have benefit a little from the beginning.

When everything is good, no problems they don't feel they need help, but when the suffering comes they always seek help and to blame others. So when they are at this state, it is a lot easier to share dharma with them. It takes patience and a lot of care at first but with perserverance, I believe you will be successful.


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2012, 03:43:59 PM »
Those who seem to have it all usually suffer the most because they will suffer from the worries of losing their friends, money etc. If they do not see it that way, point it out to them. That way, you are kind of teaching them impermanence. Also, tell them that all that they have now are the results of the seeds planted in previous lives. If there was no such thing as karma, which means cause and effect, how would they be able to get any of the so called "pleasures" in life. They had to work hard for it, right? If it was an inheritance, then their parents did some work, they just had the fortune to get their inheritance (you can start talking about how your previous life affect your current life here). Also, remind them of the inevitability of death, then tell them how to overcome the suffering of worrying about death, which is letting go. They would worry about losing everything during death and that will bring them to the 3 lower realms. If they are a really superstitious group of friends, you need not speak of many of these preliminary practices, you can introduce Dorje Shugden to them because Dorje Shugden will protect their mind and it will be easier for you to explain to them too. Explain Dorje Shugden to them in the sense that Dorje Shugden can help protect them and their wealth etc.


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2012, 03:46:48 PM »
Living a normal life is surely suffering. It is simple. Look at all the examples around you. Look at all they've done, all they've tried to do, and what has it brought them, more problems, more trouble, then one day they die, having accomplished so much, yet in reality so little. To live in samsara only thinking about yourself, just brings you back to square one constantly. You will continue to repeat mistakes. You may have successes and you may be happy at some points, but in the overall scheme of things, how happy are people when it comes to the time of death? The majority regret and are deeply saddened.

You grow up, go to school, get a job, work, retire, and then what? What have you worked so hard and tirelessly for? Just to have 10 years where you relax, be unhealthy, so that it brings more suffering. Most things you do just bring more suffering. Look at what you have done and where you are now? Are you in a better place? Or are you still suffering?


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #35 on: May 05, 2012, 05:37:11 AM »
Here I would briefly explain what life is suffering thru the 4 Noble Truths;

1. Life means suffering.

To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely "wandering on the wheel of becoming", because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path.


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2012, 08:23:35 AM »
When we say suffering, it also include getting old, getting sick, untimely death and other problems we might encounter in our fragile life. And instead of thinking in a negative way, we should find ways to fix our suffering. Hence the Buddha taught us why we call it "SUFFERING" in the Four Noble Truth.

Buddhism teaches that life is suffering - why such a pessimistic view?

Buddhism looks at life in an objective and realistic way - with neither optimism nor pessimism. It needs only a little reflection to realise that life for the majority is a continuous struggle for survival. The word dukkha means much more than the English word ‘suffering’. It also includes such concepts as unsatisfactoriness, incompleteness, uncontrollability, imperfection, and emptiness. By following the ‘Noble Eight-fold Path’, the mind is gradually cleared of illusions and, with the development of clear sight, it becomes possible to see intuitively the true nature of existence.


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2012, 09:37:10 AM »
I think you can use examples of very rich and famous people and ask your friends whether they think these rich people are happy. Look at their lives. How many have made a lot of money but lost it in the end? How many have married many times but cannot find happiness. Some have problem children. Some have drug and alcohol addiction. Some have passed away before their time from overdose of medication etc. There is a famous entertainment personality who, when asked what he wished to have, said that he had everything but he wanted to buy a private aircraft now. A private plane is the ultimate status symbol. It shows the more you have, the more you want. Maybe you can use such examples to explain that unsatisfactoriness is a type of suffering.

In general people experience a sense of unsatisfactoriness in life, which is one of the 7 sufferings. Dig a bit into their lives. You'll find out that they are undergoing suffering in one form or another. But they may not realize it. There's also a lot of covering and denial. The best way is not to explain but to show them by example, that one can achieve real happiness only through spirituality, not materialism.

Positive Change

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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #38 on: June 10, 2012, 10:36:08 AM »
I have friends who seem to have it all. They have money, looks, loved ones, career and friends. Then they look at Buddhism, which says life is suffering. How do you explain Buddhism to these people without sounding too pompous and overpowering with impermanence, death and karma? I need to get to them to understand the preliminary before I would even bring in the subject of propitiating Dorje Shugden.

Sometimes living in such delusions as your friends are is hard to see what is right or wrong. However, when you scratch the surface, the paint will come off. Most often than not, my own friends in such predicaments are most unhappy. They seem to live the life most of us aspire to have or fight to achieve.

Best way to 'help' them is to be genuine and truthful. Do not feed them the bullshit they already know so well. Treat them as a person and not for what they have or can give you. That is often the best way as they will then see you as genuinely caring for them and not wanting something from them. Remember that most f these people spend all their lives recognizing, avoiding and having to deal with people who want to take from them.


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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2012, 10:50:14 AM »
I think that it's hard to explain to one that life is suffering, if they don't even know that they are suffering. Yes often we feel depressed, and like we are suffocating but we just don't know why hence we distract ourselves with activities to take our minds away from things.

One could go on the approach to ask whether their friend is really happy. Perpetually happy, even with whatever that comes their way, and if their answer is no (most likely to be) then you can introduce them the teachings of the Buddha on why we are not, and how we look for happiness in others, in activities, in alcohol, party, cars and others but it doesn't work. We can't seek for happiness from others, because after awhile, we can't find it. Most likely, they're looking for it too, from you.

Alot of celebrities who have everything in their life, takes their own life for instance Health Ledger. For someone who has everything and everyone would aspire to be them, wouldn't it tell you that everyone is suffering no matter what? And what intensifies it is because we don't realise we are the cause of our own suffering.

hope rainbow

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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #40 on: June 10, 2012, 11:02:56 AM »
To start a Buddhist spiritual journey, there are two sparks, two realisations, two detonators that need to be in place.

The first one is: to realize that life is suffering
The second one is: to realize that sufferings can totally stop

It is clear, it is logical, that if we do not come to the first realization, the second realization is impossible.
And also, if we have realized the first one, but not the second, we run the risk of depression, of mental sinking and even suicide.
In fact, if the second realization was nonexistent, there would be no point in putting efforts understanding suffering deeper, no point at all.

So how can we explain that life is suffering?
I said earlier in this post: watch CNN non-stop for 2 days, and unless it's Queen Elizabeth's jubilee celebrations, one would have a pretty good idea. But that would only work if we are able to develop a little bit of empathy.
Another way goes in three stages:

Stage 1:
Identify the causes that we think make us avoid suffering in our lives:
-good health
-healthy food
-daily gym
-decent income
-stable government

Stage 2:
be real about these causes: -how reliable are they? -how long will we have them?

Stage 3:
come to the conclusion that if we are not in the S### right now, we will fro sure be in the S### sometime in the future, sooner or later. Every day I spend on my holiday is a day of holiday less. This realization is sometimes called SUFFERING OF CHANGE: I think I don't suffer now, but that will change and my very current condition creates a future situation of suffering. I can decide not to think about it, I can do that, but it wouldn't change the fact that CHANGE will occur for the worse.

Then we should add a further stage, Stage 4. ANd we should always add that bit of explanation everytime we talk about suffering in the context of Buddhism, always.
Stage 4: the only reason the Buddha taught on suffering is because there is a method to annihilate the causes of suffering themselves.

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: How Do You Explain That Life Is Suffering?
« Reply #41 on: February 12, 2015, 07:49:59 AM »
This post was started in 2011 and I have found the contents by the contributors to be fabulously helpful in learning the 4 noble truths as expounded by the Enlightened One, Shakymuni Buddha.

Enchanting article to read and contemplate.