The traditional summary of the Buddha & # 39; s teaching is given in four categories, the so called Four Noble Truths.
* The Truth of Suffering (Dukkha)
* The Arising of Suffering (Samudaya)
* The Cessation of Suffering (Nirodha)
* The Truth of the Way (Mrga) that leads to the cessation of suffering.
Some say that if you understand the Truth of Suffering you understand all of the Four Noble Truths by implication.
The truth of suffering is expressed in the simple claim that All is Suffering. This phrase, the first doctrinal assumption that we will discuss posses a problem for us. It & # 39; s not easy to interpret.
If you know Buddhist people, if you are a Buddhist person, you know that the Buddhist tradition is not filled with sadness. It & # 39; s not a depressive downbeat tradition. In many respects, it has a kind of lightness.
Buddhism is light, is buoyant, is easy. It almost floats as a religious tradition through the complexity of this world. The basic assertion in the Four Noble Truths, the assertion that all is suffering poses an interpretative dilemma for us.
How do you get from this claim, the claim that all is suffering, to the buoyancy and lightness of Buddhist experience?
The first way to start to answer this question is to note that the ancient tradition of Buddhist teaching interpreting the phrase "all is suffering" in three separate ways. Everything is suffering in one or more of three ways.
The Three Kinds of Suffering
The first of these types of suffering is called Dukkha-dukkha. Suffering-suffering. The obvious suffering in situations where things cause you physical or mental pain.
The second kind of suffering is called Viparinama-dukkha. Suffering due to transformation or change. This means that even the most pleasant things can cause you suffering when they begin to change and pass away.
The third kind of suffering is Sankhara-dukkha. Suffering due to conditioned states. This category of dukkha is associated with pleasurable things that can cause pain even in the midst of the pleasure, if that pleasure is based in an illusion about the nature of the object, or even about the nature of the self.
When I & # 39; m speaking about these three kinds of suffering, I try to illustrate them by constructing a parable that may sound contemporary, but I think is related to Buddhist examples that are often used to explain the nature of suffering.
This is a parable about an automobile. I try to imagine scenes in which the car might cause some kind of suffering. First of all, you got a guy in the automobile driving down the street, he sees his girlfriend on the sidewalk, he waves to her and runs into the back of a bus.
There is a huge crash and what he feels is Dukkha-dukkha. The palpable physical suffering of an automobile accident. That & # 39; s easy to understand.
The second kind of suffering comes if you are attached to that car. Many people refer to this, they have automobiles that they love. They do not have a very good time during the winter. The winter is cruel. There is a lot of ice. People vandalize automobiles. Rust creeps into parts of the vehicle, the front end becomes unbalanced.
As you see, the car begins to disintegrate. It causes you suffering in relation to the pleasure, to the attachment that you have invested in that object, as it begins to slip away from you.
That also is pretty clear. Viparinama-dukkha, the suffering that comes from change is a pretty easy concept to grasp.
The third concept is a bit more difficult. And I & # 39; m not so sure much of the time that I & # 39; m really able to convey it with this example. The way I do it is to imagine person in the car, fully invested, with all of his ego in this powerful object. Roaring up and down the avenue, feeling the pleasure and energy from being in this powerful embodiment of his manhood.
And ask yourself wether at that moment he is really happy. If you ask him if he is happy, of course he is going to say yes. The pleasure of that experience is extremely satisfying. That can not be denied. That & # 39; s a physical and emotional sensation that grants reality in his own right. But is it real happiness?
I think we know enough about situations like that in our world to begin to question wether that & # 39; s the place where satisfaction really comes from. In part because it is based on a certain kind of illusion about the nature of the object, and an illusion about the nature of the self, and how your own ego can become invested in a physical object like that, that will arise and pass away .
Sometimes in some situations, sometimes in many situations, we are suffering in ways that we are not aware of, because of illusions that we have about the nature of our self or about the nature of the objects that populate our world.
That seems to me to be what lies behind this third concept, this third type of suffering, the suffering that is due to conditioned states. To study more deeply this concept you can visit my blog through the links below.