The Problem…

Thanissaro Bhikkhu said “dukkha describes that which is incapable of being satisfied.”

The First Noble truth, or the Truth of Suffering, is often taught as “life is suffering,” rather than “There is suffer.” A man I once knew said to me “Oh I hate Buddhism – always suffering, suffering, suffering. I don’t want to hear about suffering.” The perception a lot of people have is that the Dharma is so negative, because it teaches this as a reality we cannot avoid or pretend does not exist.

The First Noble Truth tells us what the problem is – everybody’s problem – all living beings. We all suffer. The Pali word generally translated as suffering is dukkha, which means so much more than just suffering. It means dissatisfaction, uneasiness, unhappiness, anxiety, frustration, all those feelings and any of those feelings. It is how we think and feel about physical pain, emotional pain, psychic pain.

The First Noble Truth doesn’t say that life is constant suffering. It simply says that we all experience dissatisfaction, uneasiness, unhappiness, anxiety, and frustration. Everyone virtually without exception experiences some form of discomfort, even if it’s just boredom. Resistance and avoidance of that discomfort create suffering.


As we build this sitting practice we will find that everything arises: all of the things we wish for; all of things we love; all of the things we hate; all of the things we obsess over. They are all treated with the same love and respect. We notice them and release them. It is the way we begin to learn that everything in life passes. The pleasant and the unpleasant and the neutral all pass away. Holding on to them only creates suffering. Allowing them to pass away naturally creates space and peace in life – a natural flow.

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