Then there’s a third kind: the kind where you look at the universe and feel like it’s really not, somehow, good enough. This kind makes me think of the old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?” “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.”
What Buddha saw through was that it’s not the bad things that happen so much as it’s the way we think about the bad things happening. When we stub our toes, we don’t just think, “Ow!” We think: “Ow! That hurts! Damn, I wonder if I broke it? Am I going to be able to put on shoes today? If I can’t wear shoes I can’t go to work. But if I take a day off from work they’ll fire me. I can’t get fired, I’ve got a mortgage payment!” Or we think about losing a cat and we anticipate how sad it will be, and get depressed thinking about how sad it will be when it happens.
Or we think, late at night when we’re trying to sleep, that nothing ever seems to work out and there just doesn’t seem to be any point.
The First Noble Truth really comes down to saying: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this!”
The Second Noble Truth is Buddha saying: “So don’t do that!”
But that’s another column.