Stop trying to run away from suffering

Published on Dec 22, 2021


Insights from Ajahn Sumedho

Associating suffering to what is outside of us

The Buddha in his very first sermon to these cultivated disciples gives this teaching there is suffering, and then he says it should be understood. This is the practice to understand, to know, to fully recognise suffering, not to just react to it, run away from it, blame it on somebody else like we tend to do — “I suffer because it’s too hot” or “I suffer because of my wife or husband, my children” or “I suffer because of the political system”.

We love to blame everyone else for our unhappiness. So it’s a blaming society — “If the government was perfect, if the national health system was perfect, if my wife or my husband was perfect then I wouldn’t have any suffering.”.  

The truth: Suffering comes from within

But even if that all came true, you’d still suffer because there is this not understanding, not having developed wisdom, not having looked into the nature of things. So, even under the best, the most auspicious, and pleasant conditions we can possibly expect as a human being there will still be Dukkha or suffering.

Now, that can sound pessimistic to many people. But it is not. It’s a change in your direction from just running around trying to find happiness and running from suffering to look at suffering, saying “there is suffering”. It’s like this. And when I say it in this way, it’s not about liking it or approving, but you recognise that the mental state you’re not looking at suffering as if it’s happening out there you’re not blaming the weather or somebody else. You’re looking at your consciousness.

Understanding reality as is

The reality of consciousness in the present moment. And you can realise the doubt, the fear, the resentments from the past, the anxiety about the future, worry, dread, disappointment, despair, grief, and lost. All these are a part of the human experience. And then all of us have to deal with old age, with sickness, with the death.

We have to cope with the loss of loved ones, seeing our parents grow old, and get feeble, and die. It’s just a part of human experience. And yet, we suffer from this because we don’t want it to be like that. We don’t want to have that happen to ourselves. In terms of the reality that all human beings face is that we all cope with the changing of conditions. What’s born, what grows up, what gets old, and what dies, it’s just the nature of things.

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Embracing change without labeling it as good or bad.

That’s natural phenomena. There’s nothing wrong, bad, or it shouldn’t be otherwise. It’s looking at it from the wisdom level, of mindfulness by seeing that all conditions, all phenomena, are in this incessant changing-ness.

So, the Buddha emphasised over and over in his teaching that all conditions are impermanent.

All conditioned phenomena are impermanent;

When one sees this with insight-wisdom,

one becomes weary of Dukkha (disatisfaction).

This is the path to purity.

Dhammapada verse 277

Bringing you practical wisdom for a happier life.