|The Cause of Sufferings|
|Written by Viên Minh|
|Wednesday, 23 May 2012 04:03|
Excerpt from the book titled “Non-Self” by TT Thich Tri Sieu
Viên Minh translated to English Read in Vietnamese
Normally when people go to the temple (and we’re not talking about those who just spent time doing routine volunteer works), they usually want to learn about Zen (meditation) or Pureland or Tantric Buddhism, etc… to find a tradition that leads them toward total salvation and enlightenment. But have you ever question what is there to enlighten? Who to save?
Have you ever try to swim upstream or run against the traffic? Here we’re talking about against the normalcy, opposite from ordinary perception. Once when teaching about “Dai Thu An”, I have mentioned briefly about the two types of thinking ideas:
1. Against the stream: these thoughts push us to find out, research, analize the cause, the facts, the information… everything that one needs to know about a certain thing. It is part of our wisdom that is responsible for bringing the mind back closer to its originality and to the present moment.
2. With the stream: these thoughts calculate, measure, ponder all worldly things pertaining to the self – our ego.
If you go along with the stream of thoughts, they would run nonstop, never-ending, and only cease when you yourself make an effort to stop and change them to another subject. But when you go against the stream, sooner or later you would run into a dead end facing a brick wall. It is the wall of ignorance that blocks you. And if you don’t know how to use wisdom to overcome and go through it, you will eventually become discouraged and give up to return to the old way (which is just rolling along with the flow).
So how do we learn to go against the flow? A simple way is to pose lots of questions that start with Why? How come? What would it be? Etc…
To understand it a little better, let’s just take a look at the subject of “enlightenment” in order to make more sense of ‘going against the stream’:
Question: Why does one need to cultivate? Answer: Because one wants to be enlightened.
Question: Why do you need to be enlightened? Answer: Because of sufferings
Question: Who suffers? And suffer because of what? Answer: Me, I am suffering. Because of birth, death, illness and old age.
Question: Whose birth, whose death, who gets sick, who becomes old? Answer: Duh! Me, who else? A rock wouldn’t go through birth, death, illness and old age, would it?
Questtion: So who are you? Answer: Uhm… erh… Me! I am me! Who else?
Well, have you ever ask yourself “who am I?” Of course, I am me, I am myself. The answer seems to be at a dead-end, facing a brick wall at this point.
My dear Buddhist friends, why do we have to cultivate? Because we have lots of sufferings! Why do we suffer? Because we have this “I”, “me”, and “myself”. If I don’t have this “I-ego”, I wouldn’t have to suffer, would I? If there is no “me”, I wouldn’t have to cultivate and practice, and try to attain salvattion, would I? And if I don’t have “I-myself-me”, there would be no birth, nor death.
So in conclusion, the culprit for our sufferings is the fact that there is this “I-ego” in all of us.
In the teaching called “The Way” (chapter 13), Lao-Tzu had a saying that literally translated to: “The reason we encounter disaster, because we have a body. If there is not a physical body, there wouldn’t be any disaster (suffering).”
According to Lao-Tzu, the famous Chinese philosopher, our body is the main reason that leads us to sufferings. Now if you can understand and accept that fact about the “I-ego”, then you can also draw conclusion like Lao-Tzu that “no body, no disaster!”
Normally, when discussing the subject of suffering, Buddhists will immediately think of the three poisons: greed, hatred, and ignorance. But one can look at the reasons for sufferings from the lighter to the deeper standpoints. On the lighter side, of course, there are those three poisons, as well as the ten affictions spoken by the Buddha including: greed, hatred, ignorance, deceit, doubt, illusion of the self, extreme view, wrong view, clinging to wrong view, and clinging to ritual and rules. These afflictions are the sources of all sufferings.
Going a little deeper, one can see that lust and desire may be the origins of sufferings. And at the deepest level, ignorance has to be the root source. And this ignorance is characterized by two qualities called egoism and attachment to dharma. Ego grasping (s: lagna atman) is believing that there is a real “I-ego” in existence, and fastedly clinging to it. Dharma clinging (s: lagna dhamma) is believing that all phenomena are factual, continuous, and not changing.
Ego-grasping and Dharma-clinging are the two biggest and most notorious diseases of sentieng beings, and are the leading causes of suffering in the samsaric cycle of births and deaths. All of the Buddhist teachings point out ways to diminish these two grave illnesses.Viên Minh (the Buddhist Translation Group)
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|Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 04:25|