[Garden of Earthly Delights -- click to enlarge]
Tricycle's Daily Dharma: February 10, 2007:
The Truth of Suffering
The essence of the Buddha's message is contained in the Four Noble Truths. The first of these is the truth of suffering.... The Buddha declared that all our experiences of joy, indifference and pain are unsatisfactory. Are not even our greatest mundane pleasures tainted with dissatisfaction? When these pleasures pass away are we not left with unfulfilled longing and discontent? But in spite of this, we tend to cling to the pleasures of life, ignoring our transient nature.....
The suffering we must recognize includes not only the kind we experience at the loss of a loved one, or when we lose our job for example, but also includes the more fundamental conditions of our human experience, namely, aging, sickness, and death.
~ B. Alan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.
I feel I want to add that suffering is not the inherent state of all things, but only the result of our egos clinging to desires, wants, and needs. We are all already enlightened, but our egos stand between us and that awareness.
Too many people, I think, hear the First Noble Truth and think that Buddhism is a pessimistic approach to life. Quite the opposite. Buddhism offers us the hope -- and the tools -- to free ourselves from the limited viewpoint of ego attachment, to know ourselves as we already are -- filled with Buddhanature.