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The Second Noble Truth

The Second Noble Truth

Yesterday I explained how “All of life is suffering.” I think we decided that this was a pretty depressing outlook on life, but remember I asked you to bear with me. The Buddha wanted to “cure” this condition, and he did. But just like any doctor, before he could cure the suffering, he had to diagnose the cause of the suffering.

The Second Noble Truth is the idea that “There is a single cause to suffering: Attachment.”

As I said yesterday, all things are impermanent. No matter how much you love your car, or your dog, or your family, someday you will lose them. Or you will die yourself, and thereby lose everything you have accumulated in life. Nothing is permanent. Nothing. I don’t like it, and you probably don’t like it either, but that’s tough. Attachment to things and the resultant loss of those things causes suffering. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know exactly what I mean. But you don’t actually have to lose someone to suffer, because you know deep down that someday you are going to lose them. That thought is always in the back of your mind; death is part of living, and we have accepted the idea.

This is a very logical idea, and if you think it through, I think you will agree. All suffering comes from attachment, or put in another way, desire. I desire a new Ferrari, but I can’t afford it. I suffer because I cannot have what I want. I’m hungry; all I have to do is go the kitchen and make a sandwich, but right now, I desire food, and that little bit of hunger is a mild form of suffering. Poor people around the world are hungry too, but they don’t have sandwiches handy; they suffer too, albeit more seriously than I do. I want to date a supermodel, but they won’t give the time of day. Maybe my sights aren’t so high and I have a crush on the girl next door (but she hates me!); there’s more suffering. Greed, Lust, Anger, Ignorance, and even emotions we think of as positive, such as Love are all forms of attachment or clinging. There’s no way around it; even Buddha himself got hungry and had physical needs.

What about physical pain? That’s attachment as well. You are attached to your own body, believing that this life is somehow real. Your body is not you, it’s just another temporary vessel. We’ll discuss this further another time, but your attachment to yourself is just as bad as aching with lust for a supermodel.

Think about it for yourself, don’t take my word for it. You will find that everything about essential Buddhism is completely logical when you dwell on it and analyze it a bit. Think about various forms of suffering, and see how they can be traced back to desire, attachment, or clinging of one form or another.

Yeah, it’s still depressing. But tomorrow we’ll discuss the cure for what ails us.

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