the practical buddhist : essentials

the non-secret to non-suffering

There are some who think that living a life of non-suffering, that is, a life free of self-imposed anguish, emotional pain, guilt, doubt, and worry, etc., is impossible.

What’s suffering?

Suffering is the dissatisfaction or feeling of unmet expectations that pervades life we aren’t in the present moment. It’s disappointment over not getting the promotion. It’s the self-doubt that cripples your confidence in an interview. It’s the regret you feel about your past or the anticipation you feel about your future.

Suffering can be negative, such as reliving an old, painful experience or positive, like when when you daydream about that date you’ve not had with Mr. or Ms. Right. The bottom line is that when you suffer, you’re not living life as it can be lived and you;re not in the present moment.

What’s the non-secret to non-suffering?

Ultimately, the Buddha taught only two lessons: 1) suffering exists in the world. and 2) there is a way to end it.

Ending suffering requires an understanding of why suffering exists. It exists because we choose it via our attachments and aversions. Let me explain.

Attachments – these occur when create versions of reality in our minds: like what it will be like when we get into the University of our choice; driving the new car we really hope to get approved for; or what it will feel like when we can finally buy a home and not rent any longer.

These are all forms of attachments that we form in our brains. The situations don’t exist; we simply created them in our head. But along with these attachments comes expectations, desires, and wants. When reality reveals its hand and the cards don’t include these highly evolved daydreams, we are crushed and disappointed…we suffer because of our attachments.

Aversions – these occur when we avoid confronting issues that may be uncomfortable for us. For example, I’ve never made a video for this blog even though I think it would be helpful from time to time. I run from the idea because it makes me a bit uncomfortable.

‘I’m not a video kind of guy, I don’t have a white, toothy smile like so many YouTubers out there,’ I tell myself. This aversion to being in the spotlight or on video and feeling exposed results in me experiencing a fair amount of suffering.

Both of these examples take you, and me, out of the present moment and we suffer as a result.

Eliminating suffering in the present moment

If I want to eliminate the suffering I experience each time I think of how beneficial it would be to record some videos for TPB, I need to confront my aversion in the present moment. I can do this by having an authentic conversation with someone about how I’m feeling and get feedback. I can also take action and just record a bad video to get the fear out of my system. But the bottom line is, I need to take action and action is always in the present moment.

That’s the non-secret. Confronting what it is that causes the suffering and taking action to move on in the present moment.