Do You Suffer?

I came across this recently on the Post Secret website.

Image copyright Frank Warren @ Post Secret

Now it may seem bleak, but atually what this person has stumbled across is the cornerstone of Buddhist philosophy.

“”I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That’s all I teach”
~ Buddha

Buddha laid out the Four Noble Truths for us, so that we could understand what he meant.

1. We suffer.
2. We suffer because we desire.
3. We desire because we have attachment. We can rid ourselves of attachment.
4. This is how we rid ourselves of attachment.

That’s a very basic stating of what the Buddha meant, but you get the idea. (click this link for a more detailed explanation).

I strongly believe that the majority of pain and suffering we experience in life comes from the ideas in our head. We think that the buses should run on time, that our bosses should treat us fairly, that our partners must act in a certain way, and we become frustrated when things don’t happen the way we think they should.

If we could just learn to accept what is, to enjoy the unexpected highs, and react less to the sudden lows, our lives would be a great deal easier; and happier.



You’ve Got To Want It!

That’s what my brother said to me when he saw me off at Perth airport, and I was talking about maybe living in New Zealand:

“You’ve got to want it if you’re gonna make it happen.” (or words to that effect at least, I can’t remember exactly).

Now this struck me because, when it comes to things like yoga and Buddhism, wanting things, having desires, gets in the way of our achieving that which we need (note: ‘need’, not ‘want’).

Certainly in terms of Buddhism, where having desires is considered the root of our unhappiness. I don’t want a Porsche 911 GT California, so it doesn’t bother me that I don’t have one. But if I did, it would! Concentrating on our desires is generally considered as not a constructive thing to do.

And as for yoga, desire leads to frustration which leads to tension which leads to us getting in or own way. Never mind the fact that pulling and straining ourselves into positions that we are unprepared for will almost certainly lead to injury in the end.

But it is generally accepted wisdom that unless you do something about your dreams and desires then there’s very little chance of them manifesting. I mean, you can sit and hope for a Porsche 911, but until you start saving up…

all I want is...

It’s a tricky situation. We all have desires. It’s human nature to want things. I mean I want a nice house in the country, a beautiful wife, a family, a cat, a writing career, and a sitting forward bend that I’m not embarrassed about. The list is absolutely endless, once you get going. And if you concentrate on what you want (what is missing) too much then you ultimately get depressed by it’s absence.

But at the same time, if you ignore your desires and do nothing about them they’re unlikely to come about. So what to do?

For the hardcore yogi or Buddhist practitioner letting go of all desires is the answer. No hopes, no fears, no possessions or ambition; you just accept what is and so be it. But this is a bit much for your average person. You’re talking about becoming a monk or swami ultimately, and that’s a big ask! Too much for this lifetime (for most people at least).

So what do you do about your desires? What do you do about wanting a house, or a girlfriend, or a Porsche 911? How do you get those things without them taking over your life? Oh if only I knew!

The best I can come up with is to hold them gently in the back of your mind. Recognise what it is you want, and then slowly move towards it. Build upon your dreams, bit by bit, until one day they are within your reach. But! be sure that, along the way, you don’t become obsessed. Because ultimately you might never get there. You will change, your dreams will change, and even if they are attained they are unlikely to make you as happy as you think they will.

So enjoy the journey. Be happy now, with or without a nice house, someone to hold, a smart car to drive. Because if you’re happy every day then you already have the greatest desire of all – Joy! 🙂