317. The Bittersweet Truth About Suffering

Regarding 'suffering' there are, as with most everything, good news and there are bad news.

Good news first:

"All Things Are Non-Eternal" according to Gotamo Siddharto (sabbe dhammaa aniccaa).

In other words: any kind of 'suffering' will ultimately go away.

In one of those twists of weird brain activity that made humanity famous beyond this galaxy, this simple circumstance has been 'traditionally' seen exactly the other way:

'Buddhists' accuse the 'Buddha' of having said that 'all things are suffering' _because_ 'all things are not-eternal'.

If someone would say that to a prison inmate who counts the days until he's free again, he'll throw a tin bowl at the guy.

Or to a fellow in a hospital bed who hopes to be cured soon and  the guy would get hit with a crutch over his head.

Now here's the bad news:

'Whatever suffering one may experience, it is always caused by one's own ignorance' (Gotamo again).

This is really, really bad news, really!

It seems like a suffering by itself if there's no one around to blame for one's suffering other than oneself:
This is a tough one!!!

But here, in the 'Little Purple Notebook On How To Escape From This Universe', we'll add, of course, the neither-good-nor-bad-news as well:

- even though some people say 'everything is so bad', any   observation will yield that in the overwhelming number  of cases the times of suffering are, when measured, dramatically  shorter than the times of neither-suffering-nor-happiness times and considerably shorter than the times of sheer pleasure.

- stressing the 'fact' of 'life is suffering' is an all-time favorite of greedy kings and queens, despots, tyrants, and local & global power-grabbers. Since the majority of people does NOT truly suffer during most of their lives, they're glad to see OTHERS suffer and shut up because it 'obviously'
  could get worse.

- there is no better attention-getter than some pain and drama. Gets one lots of sympathy and love and is always sure to drive up the ratings of the worst, sub-standard TV news. Gets people to buy the most obnoxious newspapers. too.

- the more suffering can be experienced, the more happiness can be experienced, too - a tricky thing, hmmm...

- the proof is in the pudding: watch a funeral and you can determine who really believes in God (hint: those who cry, don't!)

- the occurence of suffering (and happiness!) depends ALWAYS and ENTIRELY on a person's context. During the last Olympics a few silver-medalists cried in despair because they 'missed'  the gold medal, and (many more) others cried of joy because they got one of those silver medals (again, please note the numerical relationship between happy winners and happy losers and unhappy winners and unhappy losers!)

Now, I feel honestly kind of silly to come back to that perverted subject of 'suffering' so often in this notebook.

But the promoters of 'suffering' have done such a good job over the millennia that it feels like Don Quichote's fight against a windmill.

And it makes one feel really bad and evil to drum happily along at moonlight with this ancient song of the Navajos that has but one line:

 "Put your face to the sunshine,
  and you will not see the shadows!"

Now, that is a dreadful concept, if there was any ever!

How could one possibly ignore the faults of those who one truly loves ???

Is this not ignorance, leading to death, misery, and shame???

At a point like this, I glady drop any pretense of knowing anything and of having ever known anything, except one little detail:

   Where there is a shadow, there must be light!

Copyleft © 1998 by Maximilian J. Sandor, Ph.D.