Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Four & Eight Sufferings

                   Life is like a tree… that blooms with flowers of suffering. During our lifetime, we must overcome all kinds of obstacles and troubles.

               We are never at ease as our many anxieties and worries enter our mind daily one after another.

               Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, famous German writer and thinker from the 19th century said, “I can affirm that during the whole of my 75 years, I have not had four weeks of genuine well-being.”

                Sakyamuni Buddha, the Buddha who appeared on Earth, said these famous words after attaining enlightenment, “Life is suffering.”

The Four Sufferings

1.) Suffering of Birth & Living

2.) Suffering of Aging

3.) Suffering of Sickness

4.) Suffering of Death

The Eight Sufferings

Include the first four:

     1.) Suffering of Birth & Living

     2.) Suffering of Aging

     3.) Suffering of Sickness

     4.) Suffering of Death

Then add these other four:

     5. Parting from the Loved
     6. Meeting What We Dislike
     7. Not Getting What We Want
     8. Our Own Existence

1.) Suffering of Birth and Living

              Newborn babies cry because they suffer from leaving the warmth and comfort of their mother’s womb. So we are suffering from the moment of our births, and we continue to suffer in our adult lives.
  • Getting up early in the morning
  • Fighting heavy traffic
  • Working all day at our jobs
  • Struggling with our finances

2.) Suffering of Aging

  • Declining physical strength, energy
  • Growing gray hair
  • Wrinkling skin
  • Getting tired easily
  • Worsening memory
  • Weakening eyesight
  • Losing hearing
  • Being separated from the days of your youth

3.) Suffering of Sickness

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Torn muscles
  • Pinched nerves
  • Broken bones
  • Flus and colds
  • Back problems

4.) Suffering of Death

               Nothing brings us as much suffering in life as dying. Of all the events that will happen to us in our future, this is the one that is so dreadful, we avoid the very thought of it.
  • Death from old age
  • Death from a car accident
  • Death from illness
  • Death from murder
  • Death from falling
  • Death from suicide

               Even our fears or phobias of sharks, doctors’ offices, snakes, or spiders relate directly to our fear of death.

5.) Suffering of Parting from the Loved
  • Mothers, Fathers, Sons, Daughters, Aunts, Uncles, Friends
  • Sisters, Brothers, Husbands, Wives, Lovers, Pets, Celebrities
  • Home, Warm Bed, Job, Life Itself, Possessions, Reputation, Places

6.) Suffering from Meeting What We Dislike
  • People who are annoying
  • People who make us mad
  • People who cause trouble
  • Our boss or supervisor
  • Taking tests
  • Our mother-in-law
  • The dentist
  • Filing taxes
  • Hearing gas blowers
  • Political candidates
  • Media pundits
  • Solicitors
  • Telemarketers 

7.) Suffering of Not Getting What We Want
  • Overlooked for the higher position at work with more pay
  • Rejected before the first round of American Idol
  • Not enough money in your savings account
  • Losing the bid on your dream house
  • Not being as slim or as fit as you wanted
  • Lonely from lack of a boyfriend or girlfriend
               We have so many unlimited desires in this limited life...

8.) Suffering of Our Own Existence

              This suffering encompasses all the other seven sufferings. It also includes that we have to suffer because of the existence of our physical body.

               We have to go through these eight sufferings regardless of what time or place we live in and no matter our gender, status, or wealth. They all affect us whether we’re the President of the United States or homeless. In other words, the Four and Eight Sufferings are both global and universal.

               Now, everybody tries hard to cut off all the flowers of suffering. But since nutrients get to the tree through the roots, another flower of suffering quickly blossoms in its place. For this reason, our suffering does not cease, all the way up until our very last moment.

               This harsh reality requires a definitive answer to the ever-pressing question of why we live. Because of all the various painful kinds of suffering, can there really be a point at all to living?

               Though life is suffering, we are not living in order to suffer.

                Buddhism clearly teaches that the root cause of suffering is the dark mind. Once the dark mind is solved, we can attain true happiness. Please find out more about this crucial life-or-death matter in the next post!

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