This really resonated with me, as I am often the victim of my own thinking, making mountains out of mole hills if you will. I assumed what needed to be done would be difficult, or a situation came up that I perceived to be negative caused suffering. My monkey mind went into overdrive and I took the normal shit that happens and turned it into a nightmare. What the hell!
Sure the Buddha was right; life has more than it share of dukkha (pain and suffering), but how much of it is self imposed? As I have been studying stoicism recently I begin to notice certain parallels with Buddhism. Could the assumptions we make about things, that Marcus Aurelius is talking about be yet another cause of dukkha, much like craving, desire, and attachment?
At the moment you start to say this is difficult, or I hate this situation, you are making assumptions and most of these are what will happen in the future. In fact in retrospect you find that most of your assumptions were bullshit.
Maybe the answer is in dealing with things as they occur in the present, without assumptions, expectations, and above all withholding judgment.
A bit of stoicism, Buddhism, and lots of yoga and meditation might help too.
This is the first in a number of posts on Buddhism. When I mention that life is dukkha the first meaning is that everyone will encounter suffering in their life at one time or another. This is referred to as the first Nobel Truth. This suffering is the result of pain we all experience in our lives. There are 6 primary conditions in life that we all experience:
- The trauma of birth – Many Psychoanalysts attribute anxiety to the trauma that you go through when born.
- The pathology of sickness – We all will experience sickness and various illnesses over the course of our lifetime.
- The morbidity of decrepitude – The great vitality of our youth later turns to worry and fear of aging.
- The phobia of death – As we age we begin to worry about dying, this is one of our greatest fears as it is most certain.
- To be tied to what one dislikes – This could be many things such as a job, a relationship, an illness.
- To be separated from what one loves – This separation again can come in many forms, but it an inevitable burden we must deal with.
As much as we try to avoid the pain and suffering of life, it is inescapable unless we train our minds by understanding the Four Noble Truths and the path to follow that can alleviate the suffering.
In my next post I will talk about the 2nd Noble Truth which points to the cause of dukkha.
If you would like to learn more please read “Buddhism a Concise Introduction”.
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