Author Topic: Why do people suffer?  (Read 12068 times)

KhedrubGyatso

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Why do people suffer?
« on: January 02, 2012, 04:13:40 PM »
Right from the beginning, Buddhism has always been concerned with the double question : why there is suffering and how do we overcome it.
Sakyamuni gave us the 4 noble truths which is more on the philosophical and knowledge side depending on deep contemplation to be realized.
On a more relational level, Buddha also taught about the 5 impurities in the Lotus sutra.

Impurity of :
1. TIME,
2. ENJOYMENTS,
3. LIVING BEINGS,
4. VIEW
5. LIFE SPAN.

It is about the relationship between us and the environment , between a culture and a country, and extending even to the entire eco system in which we are a part of which includes  the entire known universe .
Please do not google  and just copy from known sources of this.  Try to figure out from your own thoughts, observations and experience.
For eg. with regard to the 1st impurity of time, bring it up to date as in  NOW -what is so impure about the present generation and era - the age of internet , handphones, technology , social media, supersonic travel , affluence etc
Sharing experiences and different perspectives is the main purpose of forums to open our minds to learn beyond our own limited views and opinions..


biggyboy

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 04:59:40 PM »
First of all, human beings are stuck in this cyclic existence and it is due to our mind that is deluded mainly from anger, attachment and ignorance. Life is like a web. If one continuously not wanting to learn, contemplate, check and practise to rehabituate oneself.  One will still stuck in this web and going through the sufferings from every birth to death.  Yet every action has it own consequences be it good or bad...karma.  A shadow that will never leave one's body thru life after life till one realised and control own body and mind.

Ignorance is the key word and problem to our suffering.  One will always speak, think and act within one's own limited views, knowledge and understanding of circumstances.  Sufferings are dependent on our state of mind and it can be eliminated, if we change our mind by having right thoughts, right speech, right actions, right livelihood, right understanding, right effort, right mindfulness at all times and right concentration. 

puccachip

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 05:37:56 PM »
Why do people suffer? i thank not only people , everything got life got thought they are also suffer ,so that why we are looking for a way to escape,i think only enlightenment only escape suffering.
Human have lot of attachment ,ego,karma, when we face lot of problem that we can not solve, we will just stick on it, we do not have the knowledge to find a way to solve the problem, so they way people is suffering.
Learning dharma is a way to let us understand why we suffering, when we understand what is karma, we will slowly let go, because lot of things , we can not change ,  but we still can remedy.

hope rainbow

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 06:27:40 PM »
I have never heard of the 5 impurities as discussed here.
So my reply will be strictly voiced from personal thoughts.

1. TIME,
Our time is like an epitome of this delusion: consuming is happiness.
Ironically, we are for a few privileged (which I bet we all are on this forum) in a very rare position (historically) in which we ALL have what trillions of humans had wanted for centuries, "things" that they identified as perfect conditions for happiness: heating when cold, air-conditioning when hot, hot showers, fridges, micro-wave ovens, super-markets, cars, planes, telephones, mobile phones, radios, Ipods, internet, computers, hospital, health care, even plastic surgery, TV's and movies, restaurants, spa's, the list is simply amazing!
The opportunity we have is to realize that even with ALL this available, we are still not happy.
The world we live on wants us to believe that if we are not happy it is because there is always something better to come, and we fall into this trap and take part of a consumerist society.

2. ENJOYMENTS,
Enjoyments are impure in this that they strengthen our attachments to them as valid causes for happiness, when in fact they always deceive us eventually.

3. LIVING BEINGS,
Does "living being" include beings in the formless realm too? If they do, I could not speak about flesh and bones. I pass on this one...

4. VIEW
A view is impure in that it is an obstacle to realizing the true nature of reality, free of "views"?

5. LIFE SPAN.
Impurity of life span? Perhaps that it has a beginning and an end? What is born must die.

pgdharma

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 03:34:55 PM »
We live in this degenerate world whereby the main pursuit in life is wealth and fame.  Due to ignorance and attachments, human beings spend time chasing after worldly desires which we labeled them as “enjoyments and happiness.” During our life span, the time, energy and effort spend on chasing after this material wealth will create stress, discontentment and sufferings. Moreover, these are all temporal as all will be left behind at the time of death.

In order to free our self from suffering, we must understand the dharma, learn to cut off our attachments, to understand and have a right view.

DSFriend

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2012, 05:46:52 PM »
From personal experience,... I've been so conditioned to continuously "keep my level of happiness" from the diverse, external stimulus that's available the moment I open my eyes each day.

The constant search for such stimulus never ends.. but the irony is that ones the object of happiness is found, it loses its "happiness power" over time, then boredom sets in, then the search for new object of happiness begins again.

Ah, perhaps I have Attention Deficit Disorder...a mild case perhaps.

Well, after learning a little bit more about dharma, the illness I'm plagued with is the three poisons! Getting rid of the three poisons has not been an easy battle but, what choice is there? Can't possibly leave the poisons inside!

diamond girl

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 06:03:45 PM »
We suffer because we are in samsara and attachments plague our minds and emotions.

Time ... is too short
Enjoyments ... for self-indulgence brings us no where
Living Beings ... to live our lives for
View ... the correct view
Life Span ... increase for happiness to live with purpose

The 5 impurities, I have just read here, I have no prior knowledge. Thank you for sharing. If you gave me those words I would see it as above.

Ensapa

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2012, 03:50:48 AM »
Personally, I think people suffer because they place expectations on how things and people should be and when it does not happen the way that they expect it to be, they suffer. I have noticed that friends who do not do so tend to suffer a lot less and take things easier in their stride. I dont think we need to over analyze this point, just observe ourselves and people around us and how they react to things.

So I try to remove as many expectations as possible and I do find myself to be more free and happier...

hope rainbow

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2012, 04:05:42 AM »
Time ... is too short
Enjoyments ... for self-indulgence brings us no where
Living Beings ... to live our lives for
View ... the correct view
Life Span ... increase for happiness to live with purpose


DG, I like your answers!

Midakpa

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2012, 04:03:50 PM »
The karma we collect through negative actions of body, speech and mind will come back to us in the form of suffering. I've not read the Lotus Sutra but I'll try to relate the 5 impurities to suffering. We live in degenerate times when enjoyments are insatiable. The more you have, the more you want. The times have changed but our afflictions have not. The gadgets for enjoyment and leisure are more and more sophisticated, invented to satisfy our craving for pleasure and distraction. Our desire for enjoyments will keep us in samsara. Human beings are selfish and lack compassion for others. They are attached to the body and to the wrong concept of life. In this degenerate age, the life span of human beings become shorter due to demerits.

We are connected to other living beings and our survival depends on them, on their happiness and safety. If we do not care for others, the eco-system will die. If we look at life as an eco-system, then we are all interconnected. Our self-centredness and lack of compassion will destroy the universe.  The only solution for the eco-system to survive is to apply the antidote to self-cherishing which is cherishing of others.

It has been reported in a documentary that the universe is expanding. The planets and stars are moving apart, further and further away from each other. This means they will be not be influencing each other in a positive way. If this is happening, there is no chance of survival as a human race. Other living beings will also be similarly affected.

Big Uncle

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2012, 04:41:51 PM »
1. TIME,
People value time less these days because they have so much more distractions and precious little time to contemplate anything higher than their careers, bank account, relationships and material acquisitions, food and travels. Advancement in technology doesn't help because people just use it for the above reasons and get more self-absorbed along the way.

2. ENJOYMENTS
Due to technological and economic advancement, everything is much more convenient, comfortable and pleasing to our senses. We are constantly looking for the next pleasant sensation and have little or zero tolerance for the unpleasant. The constant craving drives us deeper and deeper into our attachments and aversions while leaving many sacrifices in personal development, relationships and ultimately, our spiritual pursuits if there was any. 
 
3. LIVING BEINGS
We live in the information era where communication is at the finger tips but real human-to-human relationships are breaking down. People are too caught up with the distractions of mobile phones to even communicate verbally and the younger generation have higher IQs but much lower EQs than ever. Even in the realm of spirituality, people are too caught up with different Buddhist traditions, Lamas and their own ideas of a mixture of existing beliefs to really explore true spirituality - to develop a kind heart.
 
4. VIEW
The correct view these days is that the real spiritual practice is chasing money and the goal in life is to get married and have 2.5 kids with the money earned. Material acquisitions is the secondary goal in life. 

5. LIFE SPAN.
People live longer than those that lived a hundred years ago due to advancement in medicine. But people spend their golden years being bitter, angry and lonely due to a lifetime of upholding the view mentioned above whether successfully or not.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2012, 10:08:18 AM »
I really like BU’s explanation which anyone should be able to relate instantly and easily. I wish to offer a somewhat  more expanded and general version to round up  this topic on the 5 impurities.

Time:
War, financial turmoil, oppression to animals and groups of people are manifest examples we can see presently which threats the very fabric of our socio-economic order.

Enjoyments:
We are no longer content with mere sustainence . We want to fulfill our wants and  indulgence way beyond what we need. Greed rules. In the pursuit of wanting more and more, there is less and less for others. Virtue is thrown to the wind.When conditions become even more difficult as during impure times, the situation deteriorates even further.

Living Beings:
Ill health and sickness , physically and mentally are due to impure desires. We bring upon ourselves all kinds of stress related/psychosomatic illness, neuroses, malnutrition, depression , manic disorders etc.) . Through our ignorance and greed we also indirectly cause diseases related to poverty , social inequality and mental problems derived from abuse.

View:
The materialistic view is built around selfishness where ‘ I am most important’ and ‘ My happiness is more important than yours ’. This kind of view has its roots in not realizing that ones happiness is dependent on others and the interconnectedness of the whole world we live in. Also that when we experience suffering it is due to one’s negative actions and inconsideration against others. Such a view supported by the preceding impurities, generate a philosophy of living filled with competitiveness, ungratefulness and unforgivingness which leads to suspicion, distrust ,hatred and a hostile world.

Lifespan:
Daily , people die prematurely from war, acts of revenge, starvation, crime and other dangerous situations. This impurity of life span  can also be taken as the lack of quality of living . A life that has little meaning and purpose other than self gratification. This can occur at any age. A life of thinking and doing things only for oneself equates to a spiritually dead life even though one has a lot materially or even a long life.

Referring to this vicious 5 impurity cycle, Shakyamuni says, "Shariputra, when the age is impure and the times are chaotic, then the defilements of living beings are grave, they are greedy and jealous and put down roots that are not good"

negra orquida

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2012, 11:36:54 PM »
1. Impure Time - we think it will never end and waste it on meaningless pursuits. Like the saying "youth is wasted on the young".

2. Impure Enjoyments - we pay too much attention to external / physical enjoyments and forget to nurture what is on the inside.

3. Impure Living Beings - we are getting more and more self centred and do not think we are part of the problem (e.g. wars, global warming, poor education system, corruption, social inequality, crime), hence do not take responsibility or action to remedy it because we think it is not our fault (e.g. just complain and criticize and blame).

4. Impure View - we believe we only live this one life and do everything to make this life comfortable for ourselves and loved ones.  As such we cannot see how we are interconnected with people who are not our family members or friends in this life and care less for them.

5. Impure Lifespan - with the advancement of medicine, a lot of people are able to prolong their lives when people in their condition would have otherwise died 30 years ago.  However there are also a lot of people who die due to causes related to the environment and living habits, which is basically self inflicted (pollution, drinking, smoking, over eating, lack of exercise, karma) when people in the same place 100 years ago would not have experienced.  Those who die relatively earlier have less years to live meaningfully, while many of those who live beyond 60, 70 degenerate and stop living meaningfully because they think they are "old and useless" or because they have too many physical ailments of old age.

ratanasutra

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2012, 07:31:44 PM »
We are suffer from our actions which created from the three poisons (desire/greed, hatred/anger and ignorant) in our delusion mind. And ignorance is the root cause of desire and hatred. Because we see ourselves as small, limited and needy, we chase things that we like and think will make us happy and hate things that we don’t like as it cause us feel discomfort.

We experience the suffering because of this, it is not come from the things, but from how we think and feel about them and how are our "desire" towards them. Basically, we want it to be different from how they are, or to provide something they cannot provide ie we want people to live forever which they won't, we want to have a same relationships forever, which they won't, we want our bodies to stay the way they were which they won't. Our ignorant mind, unenlightened desire drags us into these false cravings/desires that can never be satisfied, so we suffer.

Carpenter

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Re: Why do people suffer?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2012, 12:58:03 AM »
Yes, I agree with what you say, with the technology nowadays, it makes the communication very effective and up to date. But because of these technologies, it creates enjoyments to the people, and enjoyment makes one become more attached to their belongings.

The Impurities of Time
People have the wrong perception of time, they thought they have plenty of time to spend, and hence, the procrastination of getting things done, whereas due to the impermanence of life, we should be living our life as the last day we are living, because we don’t know when we will die. The time repeated disruptions of the social or natural environment.

The Impurities of Enjoyment
Yes, enjoyment enhances our attachment, we get more attach because of my luxury life, because of the things I own, I want them, I want to keep all them and never want to lose them, and this is because we want an enjoyment life.
Enjoyment also the tendency to be ruled by the five delusive inclinations, i.e., greed, anger, foolishness, arrogance, and doubt.

The impurities of Living Beings
I would look at this as others living being like animal, due to the attachment of taste enjoyment, because of wanted to satisfy our taste bud, we start killing other living being to feed ourselves, and this eventually lead to the physical and spiritual decline of human beings.

The Impurities of View
As time passes and more negative Karma a person collected, they will be creating wrong views of our precious human life. Wrong views eventually leads to making wrong actions that bring us to the 3 lower realms.

Impurities of Life Span
The shortening of the life spans of living beings. According to The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, the most fundamental of these five are the impurities of thought and enjoyment, which result in the impurity of living beings and the impurity of life span. These in turn give rise to the impurity of time.