There is a difference between natural and unnatural suffering. The key to living an existence full of happiness is to learn to absolutely accept natural suffering and doing away with unnatural suffering. Let me explain.
If one is to be born into this world then one is to die in this world. Simple as that. Nobody gets out alive. Nobody, ever. To be born means we are going to suffer. We are going to get sick hundreds of times, we are to break bones, get into accidents, etc. We are going to get old and suffer in a myriad of ways before we pass on. There is just no getting around it. Heck even when we are born the travel through the birth canal is no picnic as best as I can tell! There is really nothing we can do about this natural suffering beyond learning to accept this as part of being born in a human body. The key here is accepting this deep in our bones. By not recognizing this truth we unnaturally suffer with the mental anxiety of wanting life to be different than it really is. Which leads me to unnatural suffering….
Unnatural suffering is born from our inability to accept life as it absolutely is. We don’t accept natural suffering, so we suffer mental anguish in unnecessary ways. In addition, we have misguided notions about what brings happiness into our lives. We mistakenly believe that objects out there will bring us eternal happiness. They don’t. All of them come and go. We mistakenly try to hold onto them and that brings suffering. Each person we love will go. Each object that we love will break. Nothing stays. Nothing lasts but we don’t accept those very facts, so we suffer. We even make the mistake of identifying with the self when the self we identify with isn’t solid, and never was solid. This idea of me is a shaky proposition, and the world out there teaches us to worship this shaky self that we mistakenly believe is solid. Just think about it. Are you the same as you were 5 years ago? 10? 20? Our bodies change, how we see the world changes. Yet we think we are this solid thing that isn’t fluid, and we relate to the rest of the world based on this mistaken solidity. And because we do this we suffer.
The amazing part of all of this is when we start to see all of this clearly happiness and the roots of happiness start to take hold. We see life is impermanent, so we start to treat all beings with kindness. We let the people we care deeply about know how much we love them. We start to see through the lack of solidity that I am not separate from you. That you and I are interconnected. Because of that I see your intrinsic worth and treat you with dignity. Because I recognize objects come and go I don’t so attached to things. Because I recognize I’m not this solid self I recognize focusing on me brings suffering. I also recognize that instead of looking to me for happiness I ought to look out. Looking out means paying attention to you and your suffering. Paying attention to other beings in a way that is helpful and supportive. When I do all of this I live a most meaningful existence that is absent of unnatural suffering and full of real happiness. Don’t take my word for it. Be your own scientist and test that ancient truths for yourself. Isn’t it time?