“The fact is that we will all experience ups and downs no matter who we are. That’s part of the rollercoaster ride. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor optimistic; it is realistic.” Lama Surya Das Awakening the Buddha Within
The First Noble Truth is the truth of universal suffering… we all suffer. This seems pretty simple. We know it’s true. We see it in all of the lives of all of the people we know. And yet… when it happens to us – when we have a problem, we are incensed and our own suffering arises. “WHY?” we ask. “How could this happen to me? I am a good person. I do everything I’m supposed to do. Why do I feel this way?” We are shocked by our difficulties and rail against it. This is the arising of suffering. Others may experience difficulties and we sympathize and comfort. That’s fine for them. But, me? No. I always feel good. I cannot have these bad feelings because I do all the things I’m supposed to do to keep the bad feelings away. So then, to the suffering that has already arisen, we add shame. “There must be something wrong with me if I feel this way. If I were truly doing everything right, I would feel good all the time, like I’m supposed to.” We deny that difficulty is a part of life and so suffer because of this delusion.
Continue your reflection on how suffering looks in your life. Simply sit with the awareness of suffering without judgment or criticism. Open your mind and heart to the experience and the knowledge of the reality of suffering. Notice the shame that may be connected to your suffering and the way that you habitually speak to yourself about yourself when bad things happen.