"Life is Suffering"


I place it in ‘mind’ and ‘perception’, of seeing that which is not self as self, in the Perversions model, ie its belongs to the fetter of ignorance. I believe the simile is that the flower has been pulled apart (self view dissipated, that is one of the fetters of the three, of stream entry) but the scent of the flower still persists in each petal, until into the higher stages of attainment in the path to arahathood.


Correct. Life is futile (who thinks ‘life is suffering’, literally?). Aggregates are unsatisfactory, when discussing it as a view with someone who doesn’t have that specific insight, but aggregates are suffering when it is experienced in terms of insight and even more acutely in nibbida, hence all those graphic similes for contact. The language of insight is sharper and sounds like depression, but insight happens in samadh which mitigates this intensity, ideally. ‘Sadness’ at the loss of loved one. Wailing, grieving, bereaved, crying, loss, depression, mental anguish, confusion, breakdown, etc are all subtly different. ‘Pain’ for mental and physical pain. Dukkha magga is more like growing pains, and feeling deflated when cravings and ignorance is challanged, rather than sobbing sadness, which it might seem to suggest otherwise.


I don’t think so. The Buddha did not start with the 4NT when addressing newcomers.
If someone asks me, I start along the lines of
“Avoid evil, do good, purify the mind”.



Following your logic when the sense of self ends it’s same as cessation of existence ?


I understand the path to be 1. Suffering is experienced. 2. It leads to perplexed state of mind, or a search 3. that person finds a teacher 4. He lends an ear 5. Gains faith 5. Strives further… and so on.

If there’s no acute suffering maybe it’s the influence of kalyanamittas or attending a gradual talk (anupubbiya kata) by the Buddha hearing ‘it is good to visit such Arahanths’. In any case there’s contact with and growth in the Dhamma. He taught the Four Noble truths to lay people and encouraged junior monks to develop a sense of fear for samsara, and contemplate the Four Noble truths. The Four Noble truths is the heart of the Dhamma; it not an ancillary teaching. It guides, and informs, and demarcates the teaching and like an elephants footprints can contain the footprints of all living things, it contains the entire Dhamma!


When ignorance (including the sense of seeing impermanent things as permanent) ends, according to the dhamma it is the end of any future becoming, which would lead to rebirth in another life. What we should attempt to see is that the self doesn’t exist even now. Yet because of our ingrained thinking around someone we think exists, we generate forces such as cravings, consciousness, becoming, and karma that create five aggregates even when this form dies. It’s a bit like doing things for a master, but that master never existed - it’s like a delusion.


Sure, but I’m talking about the very first steps in the suttas. I do not think a philosophical discussion of dukkha is a useful introduction.



Ok, how do you think it must be approached?


I already said above how I describe the path to visitors. And I just turned up and saw people seemed happy and joined in. I classify 4NT as an advanced practice not an introductory teaching.


You start with sila followed by Right effort


Are you saying that insight into the truth of dukkha leads to the cessation of dukkha? It seems paradoxical.


Yes, that’s what my quote means… :anjal:

We’ve already seen on this thread how difficult it is to discuss the 4NT (let alone anatta) with people who actually have some background. So, in my experience, for someone with little or no background, using 4NT (and/or anatta) to introduce Dhamma is usually not useful. It would be like someone being curious about Christianity and getting a talk about the Holy Trinity (and don’t ask me to explain that!). It either puts them off, or it turns into a very philosophical discussion.

If someone was unhappy, I’d tell them something like: “It’s not uncommon to be unhappy, we have a training to help with that…”.



I understand your point, but the 4 NT is probably the best known Buddhist teaching, so explaining it clearly is important.
Is there actually a clear explanation, or is it a matter of interpretation?


“And how is a monk one who is able to fire shots in rapid succession? There is the case where a monk discerns, as it actually is present, that ‘This is stress.’ … ‘This is the origination of stress.’ … ‘This is the cessation of stress.’ … ‘This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’ This is how a monk is one who is able to fire shots in rapid succession. SuttaCentral

When impermanence is seen at its depth of everything, its dukkha nature is understood, and realised at the greatest depth- at the sankhara dukkha level (first noble truth). Also there is no place for a Self to exist, either. To see the truth of this, is to get rid of the ignorance around it- this means there’s no way to attach to impermanent, and fleeting phenomena. This is the second noble truth. When seeing impermanence in this way mindfully, it leads to repulsion, dispassion and finally cessation (3rd noble truth). Only then are you certain the noble eightfold path delivers (fourth noble truth)!


.be unhappy - first noble truth
…help with that - second and third noble truth
…training - fourth noble truth. :heart:

The 4NTs are in everything!


I interpret it more along these lines :slightly_smiling_face:


So is dukkha a purely mental phenomena?


I’ve been reprimanded by Christians that Buddhism is pessimistic – even before I start talking about The Four Noble Truths. (Some people simply assumed I was Buddhist based on my skin color and nationality in the Deep South of Baptist America aka The Bible Belt.) I’m starting to believe that holding the view that “Life is Suffering” can lead to depression.


The way I understood buddhism is that it’s about letting go of our conditioned views and seeing things as they are. Life is suffering due to changing phenomena. Understanding nature for what it is can give one a peaceful feeling. This feeling can happen in the here and now. The understanding happens as we practise and slowly let go of views.


And what about the good moments - are they also ‘suffering’? Or would you say ‘they don’t count’?
What about association with the liked , seperation from the disliked , and getting what I wish for? Why should ‘suffering’ represent the whole of life? (from Gabriel)

The problem is with the fact that one is liable to suffering if one is identifying with life or things within it. Even if one is associated with the agreeable, there is the inevitable possibility that it will change, and one cannot control that.
If one wants or tries to hold on to the good ‘moments’,that is suffering because those things (the aggregates) are not in ones control.

Suffering is not the thing itself but the identification with it, the idea that this thing,this state is mine and I have control over it.

So indeed life is not suffering, but rather its me that suffers because I assume life to be mine.

When there is no assumed(upadana) identification with the aggregates , then life is just life, pain is pain, pleasure is pleasure,just like it says in the sutta to bahiya :

In that case, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In what is seen there must be only what is seen, in what is heard there must be only what is heard, in what is sensed there must be only what is sensed, in what is cognized there must be only what is cognized. This is the way, Bāhiya, you should train yourself.

“And since for you, Bāhiya, in what is seen there will be only what is seen, in what is heard there will be only what is heard, in what is sensed there will be only what is sensed, in what is cognized there will be only what is cognized, therefore, Bāhiya, you will not be with that; and since, Bāhiya, you will not be with that, therefore, Bāhiya, you will not be in that; and since, Bāhiya, you will not be in that, therefore, Bāhiya, you will not be here or hereafter or in between the two—just this is the end of suffering.”