I've been thinking about the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism. The first of which is: Existence is unhappiness.
I can't really get my head round this: why has there to be unhappiness? I feel that I'm mostly happy but, there again, as with most people, I've had moments of great sadness.
As often happens when we dwell on something, I started reading something - The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha with a commentary by E,A, Burtt. No idea where I got the book from but it's been in a pile for, well, several years,
Anyway, E.A Burtt writes:
"What is is that Buddha is telling the world here. First, that by the mere fact of being born under the conditions of finite existence every creature is subject to the evils of sickness, old age, and death, and to the sadness that comes when his loved ones are stricken with these ills. These inevitable occasions of unhappiness constitute the problem of life."
All very well, but how do we overcome these 'evils'. Perhaps if we truly believed in eternity, I thought, maybe that would be the answer. Eternity would mean that sickness, the deaths of loved ones and so on would be only temporary. For the sickness would be overcome and we would see our loved ones again in eternity.
E.A Burtt writes, however,
But they [those evils] would not make us unhappy were it not for the blind demandingness in our nature which leads us to ask the universe, for ourselves and those specially dear to us, more than it is ready to give. Moreover it is the same unrealistic and selfish craving which, frustrated as it inevitably becomes, moves us to act in ways that increase the unhappiness of others.
Not sure about that but, to cut a long story and waffle short, the answer to our inevitable unhappiness is treading the eight steps of the right path. These are:
1. Right understanding
2. Right purpose
3. Right speech
4. Right conduct
5. Right vocation
6. Right effort
7. Right alertness
8. Right concentration
This would ultimately lead to us no longer being subject to rebirth and we would enter Nirvana.
Okay, but Nirvana is also eternity, which is what I suggested we should perhaps believe in, to overcome those 'evils'.
But what is Nirvana?
"Nirvana is not to be conceived as sheer extinction but as the state naturally produced by the destruction of tanha - a state marked on the positive side by a sense of liberation, inward peace and strength, insight into truth, the joy of complete oneness with reality, and love toward all creatures in the universe."
I've rambled on for long enough. But does existence here on Earth have to equate to unhappiness? Surely not.
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