THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
71.You Reap What You Sow
72. Five Uninterrupted Due To Five Retributions For Karma
73. Karma of Previous Life
74. New Karma
75. Karma-Process Becoming
76. Four Kinds of Karma By Way of Function
77. Four Kinds of Karma By Order of Ripening
78. Four Kinds of Karma By Place of Ripening
80. Eight Kinds of Sufferings
71. You Reap What You Sow
Yes, indeed, it is a matter of time, sooner or later, you will reap what you sow. According to the Abhidharma, there are four kinds of karma by time of ripening. The first kind of karma is the immediately effective karma, a karma in which, if it is to ripen, must yield its results in the same existence in which it is performed; otherwise, if it does not meet the opportunity to ripen in the same existence, it becomes defunct. First, the result of a good karma reaped in this life. In the Buddhist Legends, there is a story about the result of a good karma reaped in this life. At the time of the Buddha, a couple of husband and wife who possessed only one upper garment to wear when they went outdoor. One day the husband heard the Dharma from the Buddha and was so pleased with the doctrine that he wished to offer his only upper garment to the Buddha, but his inate greed would not permit him to do so. He combatted with his mind and, eventually overcoming his greed, offered the garment to the Buddha and exclaimed, “I have won, I have won.” Upon learning this story, the king was so delighted and in appreciation of his generosity, the king presented him with 32 robes. The devout husband kept one for himself, and another for his wife, and offered the rest to the Buddha and the Order. Second, the result of a bad karma reaped in this life. In the Buddhist Legends, there is a story about the result of a bad karma reaped in this life. At the time of the Buddha, there was a hunter who went hunting to the forest, followed by his dogs, met by the wayside a monk who was proceeding on his almsround. As the hunter could not procure any game he thought it was due to the unfortunate meeting of the monk. While returning home he met the same monk and was deeply engraved at this second encounter. In spite of the entreaties of the innocent monk, the hunter set the dogs on him. Finding escape therefrom, the monk climbed a tree. The wicked hunter ran up the tree, and pierced the soles of the monk’s feet with the point of an arrow. The pain was so excruciating that the robe the monk was wearing fell upon the hunter completely covering him. The dogs, thinking that the monk had fallen from the tree, devoured their own master. The second kind of karma is the subsequently effective karma, a karma in which, if it is to ripen, must yield its results in the existence immediately following that in which it is performed; otherwise, it becomes defunct. An example of Upapajjavedaniya, a millionaire’s servant returned home in the evening after his laborious work in the field, to see that all were observing the eight precepts as it was the full-moon day. Learning that he also could observe them even for half a day, he took the precepts and fasted at night. Unfortunately he died on the following morning and as a result of his good action was born as a Deva. Another good example of subsequently effective karma, Ajatasatru, son of King Bimbisara, was born, immediately after his death, in a state of misery as the result of killing his father. The third kind of karma is the indefinitely effective karma, a karma which can ripen at any time from the second future existence onwards, whenever it gains an opportunity to produce results. It never becomes defunct so long as the round of rebirth continues. No one, not even a Buddha or an Arahant, is exempt from experiencing the results of indefinitely effective karma. No one is exempt from this class of karma. Even the Buddhas and Arahants may reap the effects of their past karma. Arahant Moggallana in the remote past, instigated by his wicked wife, attempted to kill his mother and father. As a result of this he suffered long in a woeful state, and in his last birth was clubbed to death by bandits. To the Buddha was imputed the murder of a female devotee of the naked ascetics. This was the result of his having insulted a Pacceka Buddha in one of his previous kalpa. The Buddha’s foot was slightly injured when Devattava made a futile to kill him. This was due to his killing a step-brother of his previous birth with the object of appropriating his property. The fourth kind of karma is the Defunct karma. The term “ahosi” in Pali does not designate a special class of karma, but applies to karma that was due to ripen in either the present existence or the next existence but did not meet conditions conductive to its maturation. In the case of Arahants, all their accumulated karma from the past which was due to ripen in future lives becomes defunct with their final passing away with their achievement of “non-birth” fruit.
72. Five Uninterrupted Due To Five Retributions For Karma
According to the Earth-Store Bodhisattva Sutra, there are five uninterrupted due to five retributions for karma. What are they? First, punishment is undergone day and night throughout kalpas, and there is no time of respite. Therefore, it is called Uninterrupted Hell. Second, one person fills it, yet many people also fill it. Therefore, it is called Uninterrupted. Third, the implements of punishment are forks, clubs, eagles, serpents, wolves, and dogs, which pound, grind, saw, drill, chisel, cut and chop; boiling liquids, iron nets, iron robes, iron asses, and iron hoses that flay one alive, bind one’s head in rawhide, and pour hot iron over one’s body, meals of iron pelletss and drinks of iron fluids. Throughout many nayutas of kalpas such suffering continues without interruption. Therefore, it is called Uninterrupted. Fourth, whether a man, a woman, a savage, or someone old or young, honorable or lowly, a dragon or a spirit, a god or ghost, everyone must undergo retribution for the offenses he or she has committed. Therefore, it is called Uninterrupted. Fifth, if one falls into this hell, from the time of entry one undergoes ten thousand deaths and as many rebirths each day and night throughout a hundred thousand kalpas. One may seek relief for the space of a thought, but even such a brief pause does not happen. Only when one’s karma is exhausted can one attain rebirth. Because of this continuity, it is called Uninterrupted.
73. Karma of Previous Life
Karma is the accumulation of all our experiences and deeds since the birth of mankind, and since even before that time. This is called the “karma of a previous existence.” We can clearly see “karma of previous existence” through the activity or power of karma. This power can be correctly explained by understanding the working of the subconscious mind. Even things that human beings experienced hundreds of thousands of years ago remain in the depths of our minds, as do the much stronger influences of the deeds and mental attitudes of our ancestors. Thus according to Buddhism, karma of previous includes the karma that our own life has produced through the repetition of birth, death, rebirth, death, and so on from the indefinite past to the present. Therefore, the Buddha taught: “Even though a hundred thousand kalpa pass, karma which is created does not perish. When cause and conditions come together, retribution or result is a must. In our daily actions, how can we possibly not be cautious and attentive, ‘as if standing on the edge of a deep abyss, as if treading on thin ice!’”
Old karma is what has made up this body of the five aggregates with its relation to the surroundings, such as: family, social class, country, etc., being born as a male, or female with good looking or bad looking body, with nice complexion or not, with graceful or ungraceful face, with a high or low Intelligent quotient, receiving good education or not, etc. These things are out of a person’s mind. The gravest result the old karma has left for a human being in this life is his accumulating habits of thirsting for things and thinking of things as having a permanent self which created the current human culture full of troubles. If a person brings up his self and desire, he will strengthen his old karma and go further in suffering. If he stops them, he will come to cease his old and new karma for freedom and happiness. In fact, he appears completely free in the very present moment to make any choice he wants between what he should do and what he should not. It is the present moment which is when he copes with his desire arising from his Mind caused by the attraction of things.
According to the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, the Buddha told the Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva on previous karmic obstructions as follows: “1) There may be good men and women in the future who have high regard for the Great Vehicle Sutras and make the inconceivable resolve to read them and to recite them from memory. Although they encounter an understanding master who instructs them so that they may become familiar with the texts, whatever they learn they forget in a short while, so that after months or years they are no longer able to read or recite them from memory. It is because this good man’s or good woman’s karmic obstructions from past lives have not yet been eradicated that he does not have the proper disposition for reading and reciting Sutras of the Great Vehicle. Upon hearing Earth StoreBodhisattva’s name or seeing his image, such people should wholly use their original minds and respectfully state their situation to the Bodhisattva. In addition, they should take incense, flowers, clothing, food and drink as well as all manner of playthings, and make offerings to the Bodhisattva. They should place a bowl of pure water before the Bodhisattva for one day and one night. Afterwards, placing their palms together, let them state their request and then drink the water while facing south. As the water is about to enter their mouths they should be particularly sincere and solemn. After drinking the water, they should abstain from the five plants of the family, wine, meat, sexual activity, and false speech, as well as killing and harming, for one to three weeks. In dreams, these good men and good women will all see Earth Store Bodhisattva manifesting a limitless body and annointing the crowns of their heads with water. When they awaken they will be endowed with keen intelligence. Should this Sutra then pass through their ear faculties one time, they will eternally remember it and never forget or lose a single sentence or verse. 2) If there are people in the future whose food and clothing are insufficient, who find their efforts thwarted, or who endure much sickness, and ill fortune, whose families are not peaceful, whose relatives are scattered, or who are bothered by unfortunate occurences, or who are often startled in their sleep by dreams, such people, upon hearing Earth Store’s name and seeing his image, should recite his name a full ten thousand times with extreme sincerity and respect. Those displeasing matters will gradually be eradicated and they will attain peace and happiness. Their food and clothing will be abundant and even if their dreams they will be peaceful and happy. 3) If good men or good women in the future must enter mountain forests, cross over rivers, seas or other large bodies of water, or if they must take dangerous routes either for the sake of earning their own livelihood, or for public or personal affairs, or matters of life and death, or other urgent business, such people should first recite the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva ten thousand times. The ghosts and spirits of the lands they pass through will then guard and protect them in their walking , standing, sitting and lying down. The peace and happiness of those persons will constantly be preserved, so that even if they encounter tigers, wolves, lions or any other harmful or poisonous creatures, the creatures will be unable to harm them.”
74. New Karma
The new karma is what a man has done, is doing and will do in this life through his body, speech and mind. The Buddha always emphasizes on an individual’s new karma. His teaching is centered on seeing the truth of dependent origination of the five aggregates and detaching from them for true happiness. According to Buddhism, karma is volitional action. Volitional action is activities aggregates. The operation of activities of aggregate is that of the five aggregates. So karma is actually the operation of those aggregates. The Buddhist way of releasing the bondage of karma means releasing the bondage of the five aggregates. The cultivation of aggregates includes controlling a person’s habits of things as having a permanent self from which desire for things arise, and developing his regard to things as non-self from which desireless thought arises. Being obedient to karma, there is not ‘self’ (atman) in whatever beings that are produced by the interplay of karmic conditions; pain and pleasure we suffer are also the results of our previous action. If I am rewarded with fortune, honor, etc., this is the outcome of my past deeds which, by reason of causation, affect my present life. When the force of karma is exhausted, the result I am enjoying now will disappear; what is then the use of being joyful over it? Gain or loss, let us accept karma as it brings us the one or the other; the spirit itself knows neither increase nor decrease. The wind of gladness does not move it, as it is silently in harmony with the Path. Therefore, his is called ‘being obedient to karma.’ Wholesome or unwholesome karma never disappears until its result ripens. However, declaration or confession of non-virtuous actions can dispel the potential power of future negative karma. According to the Buddhist theory, karma, wholesome or unwholesome, never disappears until its result ripens; however, the purification of accumulated negative karma is possible by declaring, confessing and stopping committing of non-virtuous actions. Generally speaking, no matter what kind of karma, new or old, Buddhists should remember an absolute truth that: “No karma created will go without having karmic retribution.”
75. Karma-Process Becoming
The karma-process itself is karma-process becoming. The karma should be understood as becoming. The karma-process becoming in brief is both volition also and the states covetousness, etc., associated with the volition and reckoned as karma too. Karma-process becoming consists of the formation of merit, the formation of demerit, the formation of the imperturbable, either with a small (limited) plane or with a large plane. All karmas that lead to becoming are called karma-process becoming. Karmic process is the energy that out of a present life conditions a future life in unending sequence. In this process there is nothing that passes or transmigrates from one life to another. It is only a movement that continues unbroken. The being who passes away here and takes birth elsewhere is neither the same person nor a totally different one. There is the last moment of consciousness (cuti-citta or vinnana) belonging to the immediately previous life; immediately next, upon the cessation of that consciousness, but conditioned by it, there arises the first moment of consciousness of the present birth which is called a relinking or rebirth-consciousness (patisandhi-vinnana). Similarly, the last thought-moment in this life conditions the first thought-moment in the next. In this way consciousness comes into being and passes away yielding place to new consciousness. Thus, this perpetual stream of consciousness goes on until existence ceases. Existence in a way is consciousness, the will to live, to continue.
76. Four Kinds of Karma By Way of Function
According to the Abhidharma, there are four kinds of karma by way of function. The first kind of karma is the productive karma, which is wholesome or unwholesome volition which produces resultant mental states and karma-born materiality, both at the moment of rebirth-linking and during the course of existence. At the moment of conception, productive karma generates the rebirth-linking consciousness and the karma-born types of materiality constituting the physical body of the new being. During the course of existence it produces other resultant cittas and the continuities of karma-born materiality, such as the sense faculties, sexual determination, and the heart-base. Only a karma that has attained the status of a full course of action can perform the function of producing rebirth-linking, but all wholesome and unwholesome karmas without exception can produce results during the course of existence. Every subsequent birth, according to Buddhism, is conditioned by the good or bad karma which predominant at the moment of death. This kind of karma is technically known as reproductive karma. The death of a person is merely the temporary end of a temporary phenomenon. Though the present form perishes, another form which is neither absolutely the same nor totally different takes place according to the thought that was powerful at the death moment since the karmic force which hitherto actuated it is not annihilated with the dissolution of the body. It is this last thought process, which is termed “reproductive karma,” that determines the state of a person in his subsequent birth. As a rule, the last thought-process depends on the general conduct of a person in daily life. In some exceptional cases, perhaps due to favourable or unfavourable circumstances, at the moment of death a good person may experience a bad thought, and a bad person a good one. The future birth will be determined by this last thought-process, irrespective of the general conduct. This does not mean that the effects of the past actions are obliterated. They will produce their inevitable results as the appropriate moment. The second kind of karma is the supportive karma, which does not gain an opportunity to produce its own result (it is to say it does have the wholesome or unwholesome nature), but which, when some other karma or productive karma is exercising a productive function, supports it either by enabling it to produce its pleasant or painful results over an extended time without obstruction or by reinforcing the continum of aggregates produced by another karma. When through the productive function of wholesome karma, it may cause one to be reborn as a human being, contribute to the extension of one’s life span, ensure that one is healthy and wealthy, and well provide with the necessities of life. When an unwholesome karma has exercised its productive function, it may cause one to be reborn as an animal, cause a painful disease, and prevent medicines from working effectively, thereby prolonging the disease. The third kind of karma is the Obstructive Karma.The obstructive karma is a karma which cannot produce its own result (wholesome or unwholesome), but nevertheless obstructs, frustrates, or delays some other karma from producing results, countering its efficacy or shortening the duration of its pleasant or painful results. Even though a productive karma may be strong at a time it is accumulated, an obstructive karma directly opposed to it may conteract it so that it becomes impaired when producing its results. For example a wholesome karma tending to produce rebirth in a superior plane of existence may be impeded by an obstructive karma so that it generates rebirth in a lower plane. A wholesome productive karma tends to produce rebirth among high families may be impeded by an obstructive karma, therefore, it may produce rebirth among low families. A wholesome productive karma tends to produce longevity may be impeded by an obstructive karma, therefore life may become shortened. A wholesome productive karma tends to produce beauty may be impeded by an obstructive karma, therefore it may produce a plain appearance. An unwholesome productive karma tends to produce rebirth in the great hells may be counteracted by an obstructive wholesome karma and produce rebirth in the minor hells or among the hungry ghosts. The fourth kind of karma is the Destructive Karma. A man may, through his productive karma, have been originally destined for a long life-span, but a destructive karma may arise and bring about a premature death. According to the Abhidharma, a destructive karma is a wholesome or unwholesome karma which supplants other weaker karma, prevents it from rippening, and produces instead its own result. At the time of near-death, at first a sign of bad destination may appear by the power an evil karma, heralding bad rebirth, but then a good karma may emerge, expel the bad karma, and having caused the sign of good destination to appear. A bad karma may suddenly arise, cut off the productive potential of a good karma, an generate rebirth in a woeful realm.
77. Four Kinds of Karma By Order of Ripening
According to the Abhidharma, there are four kinds of karma by order of ripening. The first kind of karma is the Weighty Karma, wholesome or unwholesome, is a weighty or serious action, or karma of such powerful moral weight that it cannot be replaced by any other karma as the determinant of rebirth. It is so called because it produces its effect for certain in this life or in the next life. When there is no weighty karma to condition the future birth a death-proximate (asanna) karma might operate. On the wholesome side, this karma is the attainment of the jhanas, other than speech and body karmas. On the unwholesome side, it is the five heinous crimes together with a fixed wrong view that denies the basis for morality. Causing the wounding of a Buddha, i.e. Devadatta lost his psychic powers and was born in a woeful state because he wounded the Buddha. Maliciously creating a schism in the Sangha, i.e Devadatta who was reborn in a woeful state because he caused a schism in the Sangha; murdering an Arahant; killing one’s own father; and killing one’s own mother. As the Buddha remarked, King Ajatasatru would have attained the first state of sainthood if he had not committed parricide. In this case, the powerful evil karma obstructed his spiritual attainment. If someone were to develop the jhanas and later were to commit one of the heinous crimes, his good karma would be obliterated by the evil deed, and the latter would generate rebirth into a state of misery. For example, the Buddha’s ambitious cousin Devadatta lost his psychic powers and was reborn in hell for wounding the Buddha and causing a schism in the Sangha. If someone were first to commit one of the heinous crimes, he could not later reach a sublime or supermundane attainment, because the evil karma would create an insurmountable obstruction. Thus King Ajatasattu, while listening to the Buddha’s speak the Samannaphala Sutra, the Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship, had all the other conditions for reaching stream-entry, but because he had killed his father, King Bimbisara, he could not attain the path and fruit. The second kind of karma is the death-proximate karma, an action, or a potent karma remembered or done shortly before death (dying moment), that is, immediately prior to the last javana process. If a person of bad character remembers a good deed he has done, or performs a good deed just before dying, he may receive a fortunate rebirth; and conversely, if a good person dwells on an evil deed done earlier, or performs an evil deed just before dying, he may undergo an unhappy rebirth. For this reason, or its significant in determining the future birth, in Buddhist countries it is customary to remind a dying person of his good deeds or to urge him to arouse good thoughts during the last moment of his life. When there is no weighty karma, and a potent death-proximate karma is performed, this karma will generally takes on the role of generating rebirth. This does not mean that a person will espcape the fruits of the other good and bad deeds he has committed during the course of life. When they meet with conditions, these karmas too will produce their due results. The third kind of karma is the habitual karma, which is a deed that one habitually or constantly performs either good or bad. Habits, whether good or bad, become second nature. They more or less tend to mould the character of a person. In the absence of weighty karma and a potent-death-proximate karma, this type of karma generally assumes the rebirth generative function. The fourth kind of karma is the Reserve karma, which is any other deed, not included productive, death-proximate, destructive karmas, which is potent enough to take on the role of generating rebirth. This type of karma becomes operative when there is no karma of other three types to exercise this function. This is as it were the reserve fund of a particular being, divided into four classifications. First, evil actions which may ripen in the sense-sphere; there are ten evil actions: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slandering, harsh speech, frivolous talk, covetousness, ill-will, and false views. Second, good actions which may ripen in the sense-sphere. Third, good actions which may ripen in the realms of form (rupaloka). Fourth, good actions which may ripen in the formless realms (arupaloka).
78. Four Kinds of Karma By Place of Ripening
The first kind of karma is the Unwholesome kamma (karma). Unwholesome deeds will produce painful results. Unwholesome deeds include the following, but not limited to: greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, doubt, improper views, killing living things, stealing or taking what is not given, sexual misconduct, and wandering thoughts. According to The Path of Purification, ten unwholesome deeds are both unprofitable action and courses that lead to unhappy destinies: killing living things, taking what is not given, sexual misconduct, false speech, malicious speech, harsh speech, gossip, covetousness, ill-will, and wrong views. The second kind of karma is the Wholesome kamma (karma) pertaining to the sense sphere. Kusala karma means volitional action that is done in accordance with the Aryan Eightfold Noble Path. So, Kusala karma is not only in accordance with the right action, but it is also always in accordance with the right view, right understanding, right speech, right livelihood, right energy, right concentration and right samadhi. According to the Dharmapada Sutra, verse 183, the Buddha taught: Not to do evil, to do good, to purify one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddhas.” Kusala karmas or good deeds will help a person control a lot of troubles arising from his mind. Inversely, if a person does evil deeds he will receive bad results in this life and the next existence which are suffering. The third kind of karma is the Wholesome kamma (karma) pertaining to the fine-material sphere. The fourth kind of karma is the Wholesome kamma (karma) pertaining to the immaterial sphere.
All existence is characterized by suffering and does not bring satisfaction. There is no equivalent translation in English for the word “Dukkha” in both Pali and Sanskrit. So the word “Dukkha” is often translated as “Suffering”. However, this English word is sometimes misleading because it connotes extreme pain. When the Buddha described our lives as “Dukkha”, he was referring to any and all unsatisfactory conditions. These range from minor disappointments, problems and difficulties to intense pain and misery. Therefore, Dukkha should be used to describe the fact that things are not completely right in our lives and could be better. Both Duhkha (skt) or Dukkha (p) are Sanskrit and Pali terms for “suffering” or “unsatisfactoriness.” This is the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism, which holds that cyclic existence is characterized by unsatisfactoriness or suffering. This is related to the idea that since the things of the world are transitory, beings are inevitably separated from what they desire and forced to endure what is unpleasant. The main stated goal of Buddhism from its inception is overcoming “duhkha.” There are three main types of duhkha: 1) the suffering of misery (duhkha-duhkhata), which includes physical and mental sufferings; 2) the suffering of change (viparinama-duhkhata), which includes all contaminated feelings of happiness. These are called sufferings because they are subject to change at any time, which leads to unhappiness; and 3) compositional suffering (samskara-duhkhata), the suffering endemic to cyclic existence, in which sentient beings are prone to the dissatisfaction due to being under the influence of contaminated actions and afflictions.
After the Great Enlightenment, the Buddha declared His first Discourse at the Deer Park: “Life is nothing but suffering” and “The five aggregates are suffering”. At other time in the Sravasti, the Buddha repeated the same discourse: “I will teach you, Bhiksus, pain and the root of pain. Do you listen to it. And what, Bhiksus, is pain? Body, Bhiksus, is pain, feeling is pain, perception is pain, the activities are pain, and consciousness is pain. That, Bhiksus, is the meaning of pain. And what, Bhiksus, is the root of pain? It is this craving that leads downward to rebirth, along with the lure of lust, that lingers longingly now here and there: namely, the craving for sense, the craving for rebirth, the craving to have done with rebirth.” In other words, human beings’ suffering is really the result of the arising of Dependent Origination, also the arising of the Five Aggregates. And thus, it is not the five aggregates, or human beings and the world that cause suffering, but a person’s craving for the five aggregates that causes suffering. The Buddha described three main characteristics of Dukkha which we face in our daily lives. First, the suffering of pain occurs whenever we are mentally or physically miserable. Physical suffering includes headaches and scraped knees as well as torment of cancer and heart attacks. Mental suffering occurs whenever we fail to get what we want, when we lose something we are attached to, or when misfortune comes our way. We are sad when our career goal cannot be achieved, we’re depressed when we part from loved ones, we are anxious when we are waiting to obtain a letter form our children, etc… Second, the suffering of change indicates that activities we generally regard as pleasurable in fact inevitably change and become painful. When we first buy a new shirt, we like it because it look gorgeous; however, three years later, we may be suffering or feeling uncomfortable when we wear it because it is old and becomes worn out. No matter how much we like a person and we feel happy when we are with that person; however, when we spend too much time with that person, it makes us uncomfortable. Thus, happiness was never inherent in the person we like, but was a product of the interaction between us and that person. Third, the pervasive compounded suffering refers to our situation of having bodies and minds prone to pain. We can become miserable simply by the changing of external conditions. The weather changes and our bodies suffer from the cold; how a friend treats us changes and we become depressed. Our present bodies and minds compound our misery in the sense that they are the basis for our present problems. Our present bodies are the basis upon which we experience bad health. If we did not have a body that was receptive to pain, we would not fall ill no matter how many viruses and germs we were exposed to. Our present minds are the basis upon which we experience the pain and hurt feelings. If we had minds that were not contaminated by anger, then we would not suffer from the mental anguish of conflict with others.
In Buddhism, there are two categories of sufferings: physical and mental sufferings. Sufferings from within such as sickness or sorrow. First, physical sufferings or sufferings caused by diseases, including the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death. The suffering of the body means that our body is not only impure, it is subject to birth, old age, disease and death, as well as to heat and cold, hunger and thirst, and other hardships that cause us to suffer, preventing us from being free and happy. Yes, indeed, birth is inevitablly suffering for both the mother and the infant, and because it is from birth, other forms of suffering, such as old age, sickness and death inevitably follow. Physical suffering takes many forms. People must have observed at one time or another, how their aged relatives suffer. Most of them suffer aches and pains in their joints and many find it hard to move about by themselves. With advancing age, the elderly find life difficult because they cannot see, hear or eat properly. The pain of disease, which strikes young and old alike, can be unbearable. The pain of death brings much suffering. Even the moment of birth gives pain, both to the mother and the child who is born. The truth is that the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death are unavoidable. Some fortunate people may now be enjoying happy and carefree lives, but it is only a matter of time before they too will experience suffering. What is worse, nobody else can share this suffering with the one that suffers. For example, a man may be very concerned that his mother is growing old. Yet he cannot take her place and suffer the pain of aging on her behalf. Also, if a boy falls very ill, his mother cannot experience the discomfort of his illness for him. Finally, neither mother nor son can help each other when the moment of death comes. Second, the mental sufferings or the sufferings of the mind. Besides physical suffering, there are also various forms of mental suffering. Mental suffering such as sadness, distress, jealousy, bitterness, unsatisfaction, unhappiness, etc. People feel sad, lonely or depressed when they lose someone they love through separation or death. They become irritated or uncomfortable when they are forced to be in the company of those whom they dislike or those who are unpleasant. People also suffer when they are unable to satisfy their needs and wants, etc. The suffering of the mind means that when the mind is afflicted, it is necessarily consumed by the fire of afflictions, bound by the ropes of afflictions, struck, pursued and ordered about by the whip of afflictions, defiled and obscured by the smoke and dust of afflictions. Thus, whoever develops afflictions is lacking in wisdom, because the first person he has caused to suffer is himself. Besides, there is also the suffering of the environment. The suffering of the environment means that this earth is subject to the vagaries of the weather, scorching heat, frigid cold and pouring rain, while sentient beings must toil and suffer day in and day out to earn a living. Tragedies occur every day, before our very eyes.
In this world, worries and miseries are twin evils that go hand in hand. They co-exist in this world. If you feel worried, you are miserable, and vise-versa; when you are miserable, you are worried. Devout Buddhists should always remember that worries are made by our own minds and by nothing else We create them in our own minds for we fail to understand the danger of attachment and egoistic feelings. To be able to overcome these problems, we must try to contemplate and to train our minds carefully because an untrained mind is the main cause of all the problems including worries and miseries. The most important fact is that we should always have a smile for ourselves as well as for others in any circumstances. The Buddha taught: “Worries only arise in the fool, not in the wise.” Worries and miseries are nothing but states of mind. Negative thoughts produce worries and miseries, while positive thoughts produce happiness and peace. The Buddha teaches that suffering is everywhere, suffering is already enclosed in the cause, suffering from the effect, suffering throughout time, suffering pervades space, and suffering governs both normal people and saint. From internal sufferings to external sufferings. Internal sufferings include both physical and mental sufferings. Physical sufferings are sufferings from within such as sickness or sorrow. Mental sufferings are spiritual sufferings such as sadness, distress, jealousy, bitterness, unsatisfaction, unhappiness, etc. External sufferings include sufferings from outside circumstances such as calamities, wars, etc. The Buddha said that whatever is impermanent is suffering because although impermanence is not a cause for suffering, it creates occasions for suffering. For not understanding of impermanence, we crave and cling to objects in the hope that they may be permanent, that they may yeild permanent happiness. Failing to understand that youth, health, and life itself are impermanent, we crave them and cling to them. We desperately hold onto our youth and try to prolong our life, yet because they are impermanent by nature, they keep changing rapidly and we will surely one day become old and sick. When this occurs, impermanence is the main agent which creates occasions for suffering. According to The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, Chapter Esanavaggo (Searches), there are three aspects of Dukkha that all sentient beings experience. They are suffering due to pain, suffering due to change, and suffering due to formations. First, dukkha as ordinary suffering, or suffering due to pain, or suffering that produce by direct causes or suffering of misery, Including physical sufferings such as pain, old age, death; as well as mental anxieties. The suffering within suffering is experienced when people do not have a place to live, clothes to keep out the cold or heat, or food to eat to survive, etc. Dukkha as produced by change, or suffering due to change, or suffering by loss or deprivation or change, for example, people who are rich, who have a good life, but then a sudden fire burns up all their property, leaving them destitude. Or maybe they die in a plane crash or a shipwreck. These are the sufferings of decay. Third, dukkha as conditioned states, or suffering due to formations, or suffering by the passing or impermanency of all things, body and mind are impermanent. Everybody of us experiences childhood, young days of life, then grows old and dies. Our thoughts flow on in a continuous succession, and we cannot control them. When we grow old, our eyes get blurry, our ears become deaf, and our hands and feet are no longer nimble, but start to tremble. These are the sufferings of process.
The Buddha’s teaching on suffering, above all, offers a solution to the fundamental problem of the human condition. According to Buddhism, human existence is distinguished by the fact that nothing is permanent: no happiness will last forever, and whatever else there is, there will always be suffering and death. The first step in the Buddhist path to awakening is to recognize this as the foremost problem of human existence, to see that all is duhkha. However, this is not a pessimistic observation, because while acknowledging the ubiquity of duhkha, Buddhism offers a solution in the form of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Duhkha. The Buddha himself characterized his teaching by saying: “I teach only Duhkha and the cessation of duhkha.” Duhkha can be experienced in three ways. The first is simply the ordinary suffering that affects people when the body is in pain. Ordinary suffering is also mental pain: it is the grief of not getting what one wants or the distress caused by separation from loved ones or from pleasant conditions. It is also the many other painful situations that one inevitably encounters by virtue of being born, ageing and dying. Underlying any happiness is the knowledge that whenever there is pleasure or delight, it will not be permanent. Sooner or later the vicissitudes of life will bring about a change. There is a Buddhist saying that even in laughter there is “duhkha,” because all laughter is impermanent. This instability underlies the second kind of duhkha, which is dissatisfaction arising from change. It might seem that only death can bring about the cessation of suffering, but in fact death is also a form of suffering. In Buddhism the cosmos extends far beyond the immediate physical world perceptible by the senses, and death is merely part of the endless cycle of rebirth. Death in itself offers no respite because actions have consequences in future lives far beyond death, just as deeds from previous lives have affected the present. The third kind of suffering is the inherent interconnectedness of actions and deeds, which exceeds human vision and experience. In this sense, suffering applies to the universe in its totality, and no imaginable beings, humans, gods, demons, animals or hell beings, are exempt from it. Suffering thus refers not only to everyday suffering but also to the whole infinite world of possible and seemingly endless forms of suffering. No simple translation can capture its full significance. The goal of Buddhism is the complete and final cessation of every form of duhkha, and thereby the attainment of nirvana, the eradication of greed, hatred and delusion, which ties beings to the cycle of rebirth. Accordingly, Buddhas and those who reach enlightenment do not experience duhkha, because strictly speaking they are not “beings”, nor do they “roll” in the samsara: they will never again be reborn. Duhkha characterizes the cosmos as a whole, but its predominance varies among the different “spheres of existence.” In the world of Pure Form, where the great gods dwell, there is less suffering than in the world of Sense-Desire, inhabited by lesser gods, humans and other beings. Just the Buddha when he walked the earth could enter the World of the Sense-Desire, so too can humans enter the World of Pure Form. This is ordinarily accomplished in meditation, through different kinds of absorptions (dhyana). The characteristic form of suffering in this situation is impermanence, caused by the meditator’s inability to remain eternally in trance. To attain more abiding happiness, an individual must strive to understand the processes that govern movement in the cosmos as a whole, namely, rebirth and karma, and how they can be affected.
80. Eight Kinds of Sufferings
Human beings have countless sufferings. Suffering that produce by direct causes or suffering of misery, Including physical sufferings such as pain, old age, death; as well as mental anxieties. According to Most Venerable Piyadassi in “The Buddha’s Ancient Path,” all mental and bodily sufferings such as birth, aging, disease, death, association with the unloved, dissociation from the loved, not getting what one wants are the ordinary sufferings of daily life and are called Dukkha-Dukkhata. In the Four Noble Truths, Sakyamuni Buddha explained the eight basic causes of suffering. The firs suffering is the Suffering of Birth, or birth is suffering. If we did not have bodies, we would not feel pain and suffering. We experience all sorts of physical suffering through our bodies. While still in the womb, human beings already have feelings and consciousness. They also experience pleasure and pain. When the mother eats cold food, the embryo feels as though it were packed in ice. When hot food is ingested, it feels as though it were burning, and so on. During pregnancy, the embryo, living as it is in a small, dark and dirty place; the mother lose her appetite and sleep, she often vomits and feels very weary. At birth, she suffers from hemorrhage or her life may be in danger in some difficult cases. From then on, all it can do is cry when it feels cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, or suffers insect bites. At the moment of birth, both mother and baby suffer. The mother may suffer from hemorrhage or her life may be in danger in some difficult cases.Sakyamuni Buddha in his wisdom saw all this clearly and in detail and therefore, described birth as suffering. The ancient sages had a saying in this regard:
“As soon as sentient beings escape one
womb, they enter another,
Seeing this, sages and saints are deeply
moved to such compassion!
The illusory body is really full of filth,
Swiftly escaping from it, we return to our
(The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and
Practice—Most Ven. Thích Thiền Tâm).
The second suffering is the suffering of old age (old age is suffering). We suffer when we are subjected to old age, which is natural. As we reach old age, human beings have diminished their faculties; our eyes cannot see clearly anymore, our ears have lost their acuity, our backs ache easily, our legs tremble, our eating is not easy and pleasurable as before, our memories fail, our skin dries out and wrinkles, hair becomes gray and white, their teeth ache, decay and fall out. We no longer have much control over our body. In old age, many persons become confused and mixed up when eating or dressing or they become uncontrollable of themselves. Their children and other family members, however close to them, soon grow tired and fed up. The human condition is like that of a flower, ruled by the law of impermanence, which, if it can bring beauty and fragrance, also carries death and decayin its wake. In truth, old age is nothing but suffering and the human body has nothing worth cherishing. For this reason, Sakyamuni Buddha said: old age is suffering! Thus, he advised Buddhists to strive to cultivate so they can bear the sufferings of old age with equanimity. The third suffering is the Suffering of Disease (sickness) or sickness is suffering. The human body is only a temporary combination of the four elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. Once the four elements are not in balance, we become sick. Sicknesses cause both physical and mental pains and/or sufferings. To have a body is to have disease for the body is open to all kinds of diseases. So the suffering of disease is inevitable. Those with small ailments which have an external source to those dreadful diseases coming from inside. Some people are afflicted with incurable diseases such as cancers or delibitating ailments, such as osteoporosis, etc. In such condition, they not only experience physical pain, they also have to spend large sums of money for treatment. Should they lack the required funds, not only do they suffer, they create additional suffering for their families. The sufferings caused by diseases is more painful than the sufferings due to old age. Let imagine, even the slightest toothache or headache is sometimes unbearable. However, like or dislike, we have no choice but bearing the suffering of sickness. Even the Buddha, a perfect being, who had destroyed all defilements, had to endure physical suffering caused by disease. The Buddha was constantly subjectd to headaches. His last illness caused him much physical suffering was a wound in his foot. As a result of Devadatta’s hurling a rock to kill him, his foot was wounded by splinter which necessiated an operation. When his disciples disobeyed his teachings, he was compelled to retire to a forest for three months. In a forest on a couch of leaves on a rough ground, facing fiercing cold winds, he maintained perfect equnimity. In pain and happiness, He lived with a balanced mind. The fourth suffering is the Suffering of Death or death is suffering. Birth leads inevitably to death. When a person dies, the four elements disperse and his psirit is dragged off by the karmic wind. Death entails undescribable suffering. All human beings desire an easy birth and a peaceful death; however, very few of us can fulfill these conditions. At the time of death, when the physical body is generally stricken by disease and in great pain. With the body in this state, the mind is panic-stricken, bemoaning the loss of wealth and property, and saddened by the impending separation from loved ones as well as a multitude of similar thoughts. This is indeed suffering. Sentient beings are born with a cry of pain and die with even more pain. The death is unwanted, but it still comes, and nobody knows when it comes. As fruits fall from a tree, ripe or old even so we die in our infancy, prime of mankind, or old age. As the sun rises in the East only to set in the West. As Flowers bloom in the morning to fade in the evening. The Buddha taught: “Death is inevitable. It comes to all without exception; we have to cultivate so that we are able to face it with perfect equanimity.” The fifth suffering is the Suffering due to separation from loved ones (parting with what we love). Parting with what we love is suffering. No one wants to be separated from the loved ones; however, this is inevitable. We still lose our loved ones to the demon of death, leaving them helpless and forsaken. Separation from loved ones, whether in life or through death, is indeed suffering. If we listen to the Buddha’s teaching “All association in life must end with separation.” Here is a good opportunity for us to practice “equanimity.” The sixth suffering is the suffering due to meeting with the uncongennial (meeting with what we hate), or meeting with what we hate is suffering. People who get along well can work together without any conflict. But sometimes we may detest a person and want to get away from him. Yet, no matter where we go, we keep meeting up with him. The more we hate him, the more we run into him. This is also a form of psychological suffering. To endure those to whom we are opposed, whom we hate, who always shadow and slander us and look for a way to harm us is very hard to tolerate; however, we must confront this almost daily in our life. There are many families in which relatives are not of the same mind, and which are constantly beset with disputes, anger and acrimony. This is no different from encountering enemies. This is indeed suffering! Thus, the Buddha advised us to try to bear them, and think this way “perhaps we are reaping the effects of our karma, past or present.” We should try to accommodate ourselves to the new situation or try to overcome the obstacles by some other means. The seventh suffering is the suffering due to unfulfilled wishes (unattained aims). The suffering of not obtaining what we want. If we seek something, we are greedy for it. If we cannot obtain what we want, we will experience all afflictions and sufferings. That is a kind of psychological suffering. Whether we desire fame, profit, wealth, or sex, if we cannot obtain it, we suffer. Unabling to obtain what we wish is suffering: Our greed is like a container without the bottom. We have so many desires and hopes in our lives. When we want something and are able to get it, this does not often leads to happiness either because it is not long before we feel bored with that thing, lose interest in it and begin to want something else. In short, we never feel satisfied with what we have at the very moment. The poor hope to be rich; the rich hope to be richer; the ugly desire for beauty; the beauty desire for beautier; the childless pray for a son or daughter. Such wishes and hopes are innumerable that no way we can fulfill them. Even if we do obtain what we want, we will not feel happy. Before obtaining it, we are anxious to get it. Once we have got it, we constantly worry about losing it. Our mind is never peaceful or happy. We always feel uneasy. Thus, either obtaining what we wish or not obtaining what we wish is a source of suffering. When we want something but are unable to get it, we feel frustrated. When we expect someone to live or to work up to our expectation and they do not, we feel disappointed. When we want others like us and they don’t, we feel hurt. The eighth suffering is the suffering due to the raging aggregates (all the ills of the five skandhas). The five skandhas are forms, feeling, thinking, formations, and consciousness. It is very difficult for us to overcome them. If we lack in meditation practices, it is extremely difficult for us to see their temporary nature. All the illnesses of the five skandhas is suffering. To have a body means to experience pain and diseases on a daily basis. Pain and disease also means suffering. The five skandas or aggregates are form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness. The skandas of form relates to the physical body, while the remaining four concern the mind. Simply speaking, this is the suffering of the body and the mind. The suffering of the skandas encompasses the seven kinds of suffering mentioned above. Our physical bodies are subject to birth, old age, disease, death, hunger, thirst, heat, cold and weariness. Our mind, on the other hand, are afflicted by sadness, anger, worry, love, hate and hundreds of other vexations. It once happened that Prince Siddhartha having strolled through the four gates of the city, witnessed the misfortunes of old age, disease and death. Endowed with profound wisdom, he was touched by the suffering of human condition and left the royal palace to find the way of liberation.
The end of sufferings and affliction is the most important goal of Buddhism; however, this cannot be done through studying, but one must practice with your personal experiences. When we speak of the end of sufferings and afflictions in Buddhism, we mean the end of sufferings and afflictions in this very life, not waiting until a remote life. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that Nirvana in Buddhism is simply a place where there are no sufferings and afflictions. So if we can cultivate ourselves to eliminate sufferings and afflictions, we reach what we call “Nirvana in this very life.” To end sufferings and afflictions, selfish desire must be removed. Just as a fire dies when no fuel is added, so unhappiness will end when the fuel of selfish desire is removed. When selfish desire is completely removed, our mind will be in a state of perfect peace. We shall be happy always. Buddhists call the state in which all suffering is ended “Nirvana”. It is an everlasting state of great joy and peace. It is the greatest happiness in life. The Eightfold Path to the Cessation of Duhkha and afflictions, enumerated in the fourth Noble Truth, is the Buddha’s prescription for the suffering experienced by all beings. It is commonly broken down into three components: morality, concentration and wisdom. Another approach identifies a path beginning with charity, the virtue of giving. Charity or generosity underlines morality or precept, which in turn enables a person to venture into higher aspirations. Morality, concentration and wisdom are the core of Buddhist spiritual training and are inseparably linked. They are not merely appendages to each other like petals of a flower, but are intertwined like “salt in great ocean,” to invoke a famous Buddhist simile.