Monday, December 28, 2009

Do You Suffer?

I experience 'Dukkha' a lot. Dukkha is roughly translated as "suffering."

The head words from Wikipedia explain that Dukkha (Pāli दुक्ख; Sanskrit दुःख duḥkha; "uneasy", "unsteady, disquieted") is a term roughly corresponding to a number of English words including suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration.

If I consider something as benign as "dissatisfaction" rather than the full raveges of "suffering", I live nearly entirely in dukkha. It's scores of times during a single day that I find "I can't get no ... sat-tis-fact-tion." (ref: Rolling Stones' discography).

I worry that I should be embarassed about writing this (a dukkha in itself). It feels like I am saying I am a poser Buddhist. I certainly am not someone who has it all together with a knowing, gentle smile, wearing lots of earth colors and black, drinking tea and meditating twice every day.

But if you find you suffer, or are dissatisfied, or occasionally bitch, or even bitch a lot about this or that. If you are anxious during the day; If you find you are pissed of because your significant other left the coffee can on the counter instead of putting it back in the cupboard; If you lose your temper when your kid asks you for the third time to watch a stupid cartoon with them when you need to balance your checkbook.... If you notice all these 'assalts' on your peace of mind as I do in the course of a day, then I think you are ripe, well suited, and could benifit from Buddhist practice.

I'm sure I could find many stories from the patri- and matri-archs of Buddhism that say if you think you've arrived, you are farther away than a rank beginner.

Do not fret about how you live your day. The worst poser is the one that feigns contentment. Embrace your suffering. Notice it. Let it be. Suffering is not the problem, it is the symptom.

I don't have exact words for the problem. Perhaps "problem" is too harsh a word. It may simply be the human condition. The animal with the frontal cortex that has afforded so much survival gets wrapped around the axle of picking and choosing (engaging in dis-satisfaction) quite naturally. It was quite appropriate (and still is) to be dis-satisfied to be in the company of approaching lions, or stampeding rhino's. We have evloved into a species that carries these life preserving concerns far beyond their beneficial ends.

The practice to improve this? Zazen (poorly translated as "meditation" but that's a whole 'nother blog entry). But do it with a little care. Do zazen only for the sake of zazen, not for improvement. Having "goals" messes quite dreadfully with the concept of dis-satisfaction. Do zazen as often as you can with no express need to exceed two doses of 30min each day, and you are a "Buddhist". In fact, while you do zazen you are the Buddha, you are all Buddha's, you are snap dab the whole universe realizing itself.

See you there....


Jeremy said...

Very nice. Thanks for posting this!! My gf bought me a few books for Christmas. One of them was "Peace is every step," by Thich Nhat Hanh. In the book there's a chapter where he talks about making one room of one's house the "breathing room." It is the one room where no anger, no frustration, nothing of the sort enters. Only breathing(meditation) & smiling are allowed, along with a bell/gong to start the meditation with. Our life is definitely a package deal of having problems/struggles to use our energy to overcome along with the easier moments. Hard to get away from bills, our roles' demands,etc. It's a mixed bag...but all in all we can agree its a beautiful wondrous thing......this ....existence with all its mystery. LOL....i can't help but laugh sometimes at the mystery of it...but its usually in the moments I'm PRESENT with things.

Lauren said...


It's funny. I bought Peace is Every Step years ago but I have not yet read it. I like that idea of a "breathing room."

yes...such a mystery.

MyoChi said...

Wow Lauren..such an honest post! You hit the nail right on its head. I was reading your post and going in my mind - yup, I know, I have seen this, I agree. It is very true that suffering that Buddhism talks about is not just the intense suffering when we are in emotional or physical pain but this continuous underlying feeling of being dissatisfied. It seems like when we get what we wanted, however big or small, we immediately forget how badly we wanted it, dont stop for a minute to acknowledge that we got it and let contentment arise, but we move on to the next thing we don't have. I guess where zazen helps is that it slows down the process of wanting by means of self observation and that helps a lot.

Lauren said...


I won't claim miracles of enlightenment here, but what you say, is, I think, the big payback of zazen and True Buddhism (I hate using that word, "True", but I really don't know what else to say, there is sooooo much Buddhist flim flam out there)is not that we learn how to act content (which is akin to faking contentment), but that we can learn how discontentment works in our minds, in our picking and chosing, and we can notice how zazen, without any clear concept of why it should be this way, provides for more consistent contentment.

Thanks for the visit.

Marie Mc Neill said...

Thank you Lauren for writing this

Marie :)

Lauren said...

Marie, you are welcome. Thank you for reading it!