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Suffering, and the End of Suffering

As long as we live we will never stop having personal problems.

Charlie Martin


October 6, 2013 - 2:00 pm
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So, of course I write this Buddhism column because I’m an Enlightened Being and have no personal problems, having ended all suffering and being Liberated from the Wh…


Okay, stop laughing, especially all you people who know me personally. I’m trying to make a point.

Which is, nobody, not even the Buddha, stops having personal problems. His Dad, Suddhodana, took a long time to reconcile with his son after Siddhartha gave up the career Dad wanted for him — world-conqueror — and took up saving all sentient beings from suffering.

His cousin Ananda, who we talked about last time, was apparently sometimes a bit officious and no doubt tried to boss the Buddha around and make sure he moved on to his next interview on time. After all, he may have been the World-Honored One but he was also Ananda’s cousin Siddhartha who everyone gossiped about at home. And I’d bet a lahk that his wife Yasodhara sometimes nagged him about their son Rahula when Rahula was a teenager. And I’m sure Buddha swore when he stubbed his toe and scratched mosquito bites when they itched.

What was different is that he didn’t suffer. He didn’t have that thing with the Sanskrit name we keep talking about, duhkha. He also said that we could all stop suffering if we practiced three things:

  • we had to decide we wanted to stop suffering;
  • we had to order our affairs ethically so that we minimize the drama and angst that lead to suffering;
  • and we needed to pay attention so that we didn’t fall into suffering.

This all comes to mind because, well, I had my own opportunities to fall into suffering fairly often in the last month or so: laid off my day job, some disappointments in relationships, and all the day to day tsooris that everyone goes through. I’ve also got a young friend who is having his own troubles and has been talking to me about them. So, the topic of suffering has been on my mind.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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Fabulous column. Love this part in particular:

"When you find a space between those thoughts you’re dwelling on?

The end of suffering."

My wife teaches meditation, and one of her favorite sayings is:

"God resides in the silence between the thoughts."

I suffer (!) from tinnitus. So I have very rarely encountered this space. Shear nirvana when it happens. Of course, I dwell on the "missingness" of that space, and despair of ever attaining it again. And, obviously, make myself (and my body) wrong for not being able to reach it regularly, due to these weaknesses....

Aren't we grand as human beings?! ;-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you find yourself dwelling on the tinnitus, notice that you're dwelling on the tinnitus and go back to counting your breaths.

I'm allergic to local anaesthetics. I use this in the dentist's office all the time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah. I'll even spend a little time actually just focusing on the tinnitus, allowing it to be, and then go back to the meditation.

It's such an odd dance, at least for me. I find the more I can just laugh at my own "failures" and misgivings and even the pain, the easier it all gets. But there are definitely times when laughter is in short supply.

We each have our lessons.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yup. I have trouble with the Critical Voice that lurks over my right shoulder to tell me what I'm writing isn't really good, I should go back and revise that last paragraph, maybe two, nom, I just just throw it away and start over....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I really like the way you use concrete examples that demystify meditation. And tying the ordinary experience of meditation directly to the various form of suffering. It helps to be able to name the exact types of 'thirsting' that constantly arise in us so that we can more easily let them go.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, that Siddhartha guy was pretty smart. I think maybe my next modern prose translation will be the Dharmachakrasutra, where he laid this stuff out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What an informative and entertaining column. Three cheers for Charlie! I recognize the symptoms now (only it wasn't 4th grade it was 1998) and I am very happy to know that I have already been doing some of the right things already. I have been putiing those thoughts in mental balloons and letting them fly away. I have been working on morning meditations and got some great tips here. Thanks so much!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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