FACING SUFFERING AND OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS SUFFERING: –
If you look at your normal day to day life, however you often find that there are so many factors and conditions that cause pain, suffering and feelings of dissatisfaction, whereas conditions that give rise to joy and happiness are comparatively rare. In accepting that suffering is part of our daily existence, one could begin by examining the factors that normally give rise to feelings of discontent and mental unhappiness. Generally speaking for instance, one feels happy if you or people close to you receive praise, fame, fortune, and other pleasant things. And you feel unhappy and discontent if you don’t achieve these things or if your rival is receiving them. And since this is the reality of our existence, our attitude towards suffering may need to be modified.
Our attitude towards suffering becomes very important because it can affect how we cope with suffering when it arises. Now our usual attitude consists of intense aversion and intolerance of our pain and suffering. However if we can transform our attitude towards suffering, adopt an attitude that allows us greater tolerance of it, then this can do much to help counteract feelings of mental unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and discontent.
So, how you perceive life as a whole plays a role in your attitude about suffering. For instance, if your basic outlook is that suffering is negative and must be avoided at all costs and in some sense is sign of failure, this will add a distinct psychological component of anxiety and intolerance when you encounter difficult circumstances, a feeling of being overwhelmed. On the other hand, if your basic outlook accepts that suffering is a natural part of your existence, this will undoubtedly make you more tolerant towards the adversities of life. And without a certain degree of tolerance towards your suffering, your life becomes miserable, and then it is like having a very bad night. That night seems eternal, it never seems to end.
The root causes of suffering are desire, anger, greed, attachment and arrogance. These are called ‘five persons of mind’. By generating insight in to the true nature of reality and eliminating afflictive states of mind such as desire, anger, greed, attachment, and arrogance, one can achieve a completely purified state of mind, free from suffering.
Suffering in West: –
As Western society gained the ability to limit the bodily or physical suffering caused by harsh living conditions by means of science, it seems to have lost the ability to cope with the suffering of the mind. Studies by social scientists have emphasized that most people in modern western society tend to go through life believing that world is basically a nice place in which to live, that life is mostly fair and they are good people who deserve to have good things happen to them. These beliefs could play an important role in leading a happier and healthier life. But the inevitable arising of the suffering undermines these beliefs and can make it difficult to go on living happily and effectively. In this context, a relatively minor trauma can have a massive psychological impact as one loses faith in one’s basic beliefs about the world as fair and benevolent. As a result suffering is intensified. That is why the depression is more common in the west.
Suffering in East: –
Although pain and suffering are experienced by all human beings, but those brought up in Eastern cultures appear to have greater acceptance and tolerance for physical and mental suffering. Part of this may be due to their beliefs, but perhaps it is because suffering is more visible in poorer nations than it is in wealthier countries. In east when person becomes sick they are not marginalized, most cases they are not shipped off to nursing homes to be cared for by the health professionals, but they remain in community to be cared for by the family. Those living in daily contact with the realities of life cannot easily deny that life is characterized by suffering, that it is a natural part of existence.