Mar 23, 2022
It could be said that all of the Buddha's teachings are about suffering and how to end suffering. In this episode, we hear the story of a monk who, standing alone in his monastery while the rest of his city celebrated the festival of the constellations, thought: "There can be no one whose lot is worse than mine." Haven't we all had a similar thought before when we were down, thinking our situation was just the worse! To the monk, the Buddha said that everyone suffers. Buddha says it is hard to be a monk; it is hard to be married with a family; it is hard just to live with other people. Ultimately Buddha said that anyone in samsara (with an uncontrolled mind) would experience suffering wherever their circumstances are. The only way to end suffering is to stop the causes of suffering from within--from our mental habits of ignorance, anger, attachment, greed, and so forth.
Understanding that suffering and happiness arise from our mind, rather than external circumstances, we can try to lift our mind back up to happiness as a spiritual practice. I suggest a one-day practice as an experiment. For this mindfulness practice, try for an entire day to keep lifting your mind back up when it becomes tense or unhappy. Utilize thoughts of gratitude or simply your determination to be peaceful and happy all day. I do this practice and find it really works! Just know that sometimes turning your mind back to happiness is easy, like turning a motorbike, but sometimes it is like turning a cruise ship around--it takes a long time.
Verse 302: It is hard to become a bhikkhu;
it is hard to be happy in the practice of a bhikkhu.
The hard life of a householder is painful;
to live with those of a different temperament is painful.
A traveller in samsara is continually subject to dukkha;
therefore, do not be a traveller in samsara;
do not be the one to be subject to dukkha again and again.
-Buddha, The Dhammapada
References and Links