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The Three Sufferings


We suffer because we see things wrongly. There is no permanent “now I have it happiness” from things outside of our selves. It is helpful to understand that everything constantly changes. What seemed so constant and permanent can actually vanish or change beyond recognition at any time for reasons that are completely beyond your control. The notion of control is an illusion!


To transform delusions of mind, deal with what arises in your mind in response to various catalysts (things that happen out there). Use the tool of mindfulness to label and see what’s there. Know your mind. Learn a accurate view of the mind. What is a delusion? Its characteristics? What does it create? How can we change the results we get?


Explore the 3 levels:


1)    Suffering of suffering: Is the feeling of pain. It is what everyone recognizes as suffering. Think back to what you or a loved one has recently experienced. What is the unavoidable pain of life that occurs in your world? Consider: Illness and injury, a tooth ache, poverty, loss of ability (through sickness, accident, or aging), body or emotional pain, depression, compulsive/obsessive/addictive behaviors, loss of spouse, partner, parent, or child, loss of work or money, or social status, natural catastrophes, wars, grief, and so on. Make specific examples of this kind of suffering your life of the lives of people you know.


2)   Suffering of change: Refers to things such as good health, being hungry and eating food, clothes or other possessions, and good conditions that give us a feeling of physical or mental pleasure. Although this is what is commonly called happiness in the world, it is not real happiness. It is contaminated, because it is conjoined with the unrealistic attitudes; it occurs under their influence. Therefore, it seems to be happiness, but it is not really, for it initiates the change into another discomfort or pain. For example, wanting a piece of chocolate cake. You may be hungry and see a beautiful piece of cake. If the attitude of attachment is present you can feel miserable if you don’t get it. Attachment exaggerates the delicious qualities, so you manipulate to get it. You expect FUN and pleasure. When you don’t have it, you ache and hanker to get it. So you eat a piece. Oh, it’s SO good, you want more…so you get another piece. You think to yourself, "I want bliss!" So you grasp at more pleasure, but it turns to suffering (your stomach hurts) and the attachment leads to aversion. The happiness doesn’t last. At first eating seems to be happiness as the pain of hunger leaves, but it is not really, for it initiates the change into another discomfort or pain of being overfull. One part of your mind feels you always need more…because you’re not satisfied yet. So you’re still waiting. Your attachment believes the cake is the object that will lead to happiness. So you must have it, and more… Attachment of any kind causes suffering. You’re a junkie or addict—you might need heroin, alcohol, food, material possessions, or beautiful bodies. Notice that it all leads to suffering! What was at first pleasant, ultimately leads to suffering. Where in your life has this proven true? What sensual objects, opinions or beliefs, or identities have you looked for happiness in that ultimately led to suffering?


3)     Pervasive compounded suffering: Refers to our aggregates (our bodies, minds, and emotions) that are under the influence of the disturbed attitudes and karma (cause and effect, or sowing and reaping). It is called “pervasive” because it pervades all births in existence, and it is called “compounded” because it comes together due to, or is compounded by disturbing attitudes and karma. This suffering of existence also arises as a feeling of incompleteness. Our mind feels lacking and empty inside, so we feel separate from others and the world. Instead of opening to these feelings, we shut down to it and look for something that will make us feel complete, and so the suffering begins again. Where has this been true for you?


I think “happiness is what I get when I get what I want!” Notice the “package of pleasure” brings sufferings with it! Really, happiness is what I get when I get rid of the delusions. When the mind is free of delusions and pollutions, then happiness naturally arises. When virtues are present, then I get real happiness, not just happiness from addictive pleasures.

Adapted from pages 129 -130 Transforming the Heart by Geshe Jampa Tegchok


Using the Various Meditations readings will help transform unbalanced patterns of thought and emotional reactions.

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