Suffering and Self-View
It is important to reflect upon the phrasing of the First Noble
Truth. It is phrased in a very clear way: 'There is suffering,'
rather than, 'I suffer.'
Whenever we dwell on the
thought of suffering we tend to personalise it as 'my suffering'.
'I suffer a lot - and I don't want to suffer.' This is the way our
thinking mind is conditioned.
'I am suffering' always conveys the sense of 'I am somebody who
is suffering' be it a little or a lot. Then the whole process
of the association with one's self and one's memories kicks in.
You remember all sorts of things going all the way back to when
you were a baby ... and so on.
But note, the First Noble Truth does
not say there is someone who has suffering. It is not personal
thing; it just says that 'There is suffering'. It is
not: 'Oh poor me, why do I have to suffer so much? What did I
do to deserve this? Why do I have to have sorrow, pain, grief
and despair? It is not fair! I do not want it. I only want happiness
and security.' This kind of thinking comes from ignorance [or
'not knowing' and more like the ignorance of a child who simple
'does not know better'] which complicates everything and can result
in personality problems.
LETTING GO OF SUFFERING
To let go of suffering, we have to admit it into consciousness.
But the attitude or approach to suffering in Buddhist meditation
should not be made from a position of: 'I am suffering' but rather,
'there is the presence of suffering'. We are not trying to identify
with the problem but simply acknowledge that there is one.
It is unskilful to think in terms of: 'I get angry so easily;
how do I get rid of it?' It is this self questioning that triggers
off all the underlying assumptions of a self and then it becomes
very confusing because the sense of 'my' problems or 'my' thoughts
takes us very easily towards suppression, making judgements and
criticising ourselves ... or everybody else. That is all just
the result of birth thus, 'birth is suffering'.
When you just admit that there is this feeling of confusion,
greed or anger, then there is an honest reflection on the way
it is and you are ready to accept all conditions and/or situation
as impermanent, unsatisfactory and non-self.
'There is suffering' is a very clear, precise acknowledgement
that at this time, there is some feeling of unhappiness. It can
range from anguish and despair to mild irritation; dukkha does
not necessarily mean severe suffering.