To Live is to Suffer – The Conditions We Create in Escape
“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” Friedrich Nietzsche
In giving up the pleasures that I once sought, those activities that consumed me, that caused me both pleasure and displeasure, in attempt to escape my perception of Self-suffering I ask myself, “has it helped?”
Buddha said, “Life is suffering.” It is however often misinterpreted. I am not here today to try to explain this misunderstanding. What I wish to do is share a quick thought on why there will always be an underlying sense of suffering in life.
Everything is changing, and nothing is permanent. Impermanence is suffering. Trying to hold on to all that is in constant flux leads to suffering, but we all continue to try hold on.
And then when we are aware of suffering we wish to avoid whether in this moment or in future moments to come. All suffering has a cause. If we do not seek to understand the source of the cause or the cause itself we simply push it aside and move beyond.
Does the cause disappear? And what suffering exists in the new conditions we’ve created for ourselves by moving on?
I guess if everything is impermanent than even the cause of our happiness or suffering will too pass. However, we are too quick to search for the avoidance of what is undesirable rather than allowing ourselves time and opportunity to bask in the lessons from these moments in life we have.
Momentarily we might find pleasure. We may create temporary conditions of bliss. Maybe even longer-lasting conditions of satisfaction. Alternatively, we may just find that we push ourselves into more noise that only distract us from any underlying cause. And when things become quiet, what then do we hear?
Does that mean I am wrong in my pursuit to minimise the suffering in my life? I don’t think so. But what I have come to understand is that a reduction of suffering isn’t found by the constant search for pleasure or avoidance of pain but rather in dealing with every single moment regardless of the agitation, unease or joy.
I have also found that by discontinuing my attachment to those things I once craved has left me with another level of suffering. I can best describe these feeling as being similar to the feeling of missing out.
I have removed some pleasures to mask particular pains because I found those same pleasures only lead to more of the same. And now I am without this medication I am left with this unease. I think that is why it is so easy to return once again to the clinging of pleasures.
I am aware of this. When I feel that suffering, this feeling of missing out. An agitation that makes me crave something more in dull moments I reflect, “What is it about this situation that is sufferable?” And, “Is the alternative any better?”
That is the time best spent. Soon the agitation passes only to be encountered by a new moment, and while the feeling I will receive at that moment is highly unknown, it seems to bring a calmness to my life in which I have grown fond.
It seems ludicrous to jump from one moment of displeasure to another to try and escape undesirable conditions that we created.
Further Reading and Resources