This post is my mid term assignment from the coursera course Buddhism and Modern Psychology. The question I’ve chosen to write about is on the Buddha’s diagnosis of the suffering that is part of human experience. As you’ll see I don’t agree with the Buddha that life is continuous suffering or dissatisfaction, although there is certainly suffering in life which can be alleviated by following some of the Buddha’s teachings.
The Buddha argues that suffering comes from our tendency to cling to things which will not last. According to this view we are always desiring something, but when we get what we desired the pleasure is short lived and we find ourselves desiring something else. This is the cause of the dissatisfaction which the Buddha believed permeates our lives.
I do not feel that my live is a permanent state of dissatisfaction. Many things give me pleasure, for example sitting in a beautiful garden on a sunny day. This pleasure won’t last forever but I find it can last for an hour or more at a time. I wouldn’t describe it as fleeting.
There is also suffering that is not caused by clinging. For example I get migraines, which are a very painful kind of headache. They cause me suffering but not because I’m clinging to anything. When I have one I’m not doing anything except lying in bed with my eyes shut waiting for it to end. This is suffering but it doesn’t fit into the Buddha’s diagnosis of the causes of suffering.