• Elijah J. Graham

The Connectedness Suffering Gives

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

It is no secret that subjects and followers of the Buddha are often self-sufficient. They rely on themselves, look inwards, and focus their minds in the aims of what they would like to see or receive in life. If one sees or thinks of evil, he will plunge to hell. If one thinks of intuitive wisdom, he will reach enlightenment. If he thinks of good, he will discover heaven. By reciting just one volume of the Diamond Sutra, one could see into their own natures and with direct apprehension, become Buddhas. “It is said in the Diamond Sutra: ‘all forms everywhere are unreal and false,” (Platform Sutra 130). Buddhist wisdom ultimately strives for inner peace as a habitual way to deal with all forms of suffering. Siddhartha Gautama was a very wealthy prince before reaching Nirvana, the highest stage of enlightenment, and becoming the Buddha or ‘the awakened one.’ When he reached this state, he was finally able to recognize that all forms of life are linked by one thing: suffering.

Attachment leads to suffering. By attaching ourselves, we attempt to resist the fundamental truth about existence: change is the only constant. Our friends, family, and loved ones will disappear in one way or another. Our youth and beauty will fade. Our success is fleeting. We will die. This theme is noted in the collection of Buddhist teachings, the Dhammapada: “the good renounce attachment for everything. The virtuous do not prattle with a yearning for pleasures. The wise show no elation or depression when touched by happiness or sorrow.” To reach any sort of wisdom, we must meditate and think deeply in considerations of our life. We must best our deep desires, or cravings, that poison the mind to the extent of making us sick. There is no problem with desire inherently, only we should desire the right things by training our mind in meditation and thought. “If you do not think, then your nature is empty; if you do think, then you yourself will change,” (Platform Sutra 142). Change is the only constant.

To best approach suffering, one should not bathe in luxury or abstain from food and comforts entirely. Buddha taught moderation in all things called the Middle Way, or Madhyamā – pratipad. He discovered a path transcending suffering he labelled as the Four Noble Truths, or catvāri āryasatyāni. 1-There is suffering. This we cannot defeat. 2-Suffering is caused by attachments, as attachments are the root of all suffering. 3- We can transcend suffering by removing or managing these desires. We must change our perspective on the given situation, not the circumstances of it. 4-We can move beyond suffering through the Noble Eightfold Path, or āryāstāngamārga. This mast boasts eight columns labelled as Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

Wisdom is a habit to be upkept every single day, it is not an impulse or decision to be made and had once or twice. It is work— one must exercise it daily. To combat suffering and reach our own mindfulness in the Buddha Way, we must hold deceptions and errors as closely as the truth for they are all the nature of True Reality. In time, all things will be exposed by wisdom, and then still will there be the ability to see into your own nature and gain enlightenment. There will be no advantage to seeking forms higher or alternative to oneself for one must seek inside to find any answers at all. “If he says he relies on the Buddha, where is that Buddha? If he doesn’t see the Buddha then he has nothing on which to rely. If he has nothing on which to rely then what he says is deluded.— Do not mistakenly use your minds! The sutras say to take refuge in the Buddha within yourselves; they do not say to rely on other Buddhas. If you do not rely upon your own natures, there is nothing else on which to rely,” (Platform Sutra 146).

Ultimately, there is no refuge outside of one’s mind and you must find peace inside of yourself, for it is the only place that it exists! There is no external source— such as God or sacred ally— that may protect us from angst, misery, and suffering. “Even if I see for myself, I cannot take the place of your delusion; even if you see for yourself, you cannot take the place of my delusion. Why don’t you practice for yourself and then ask me whether I see or not?” (Platform Sutra 169). Such as Alan Watts’ Wu Wei, we must learn to work with our own Inner Nature and allow the natural laws around us to operate unhindered so that we may reach Wu Wei, or effortless action. Followers of the Buddha are self- sufficient because they are well aware that this the only Way.

Suffering may not be defeated. We are unable to avoid it and we are unable to preserve ourselves nor the ones we love from experiencing it. It is only best to prepare to encounter the worst of it again and again. By allowing ourselves to become attached to possessions, ideas, and objects, we are making ourselves vulnerable to being without them. We may not cloud our minds with fixations and pleasures, for the Way gather in emptiness and emptiness alone. For this, we must consider the Four Noble Truths, manage our desires, and follow the Eightfold Path to reach enlightenment and thus become empty.

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