Wednesday, January 14

Does Existence Always Bring Unhappiness?

Is Existence Unhappiness

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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  1. Interesting. A fried of mine says he's tied Christianity and karma together. If you are to reap what you sow and did not receive payback in this life, then you'd receive it in the next life. That way when bad things happen to us, we might suspect that we somehow sowed it previously in an earlier life.
    I can get a link to his blog if you'd like, Mike. It's really something to read.

    1. I'm a believer in karma. It seems the only answer to so much unfairness in the world - especially if you were to believe in reincarnation as well. It answers many things like why God doesn't interfere with all of the wrongs.

      I'd like the link, always interested in other opinions.

  2. I think there are some "inevitabilities" of life, one of which is the experience of varied emotions and of course, one of those is unhappiness. Interesting post!

    1. Sadly the inevitabilities are here to stay, at least while on Earth. What happens after our time here might be interesting though - fingers crossed!

  3. Great post. In some ways, this is like the old adage that if you're a creative person, you must create from unhappiness of from suffering.

    1. I guess we learn from any sadness we go through.

  4. I do believe unhappiness creates some great artistic works and efforts. But at my age, this is very deep stuff and not something I really want to think about any more.

    1. Thank you, appreciate your thoughts.

    2. I hope the blog link dixie referenced can be posted here on comments. Thanks ahead!!!!