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Happiness and Suffering

During one of the workshops I asked the questions below. Many people didn’t think  it was possible to end suffering or to find lasting happiness. But that is what the Buddha taught. I asked the questions again on Facebook and Twitter. Here are the answers. Last names removed for privacy.

Darren Littlejohn Asked the Question:
Do you believe it is possible to end suffering? If so, how and why? If not, why not?

David  at 11:39am March 24
Seems like a loaded question Darren. Buddha said it was possible but not easy. Here we are 2,600 years later still suffering. It seems that as long as we cling to attachment and desires we will suffer and when we allow ourselves to be free from them our suffering will end. How long will that take? Countless lifetimes for me and I still see no end to it in sight yet. But that can change in the blink of the eye.

Federica at 11:54am March 24
personally my soffering has diminuisced a lot thanks to the teachings…..

Darryl  at 12:00pm March 24
We practice to change the way we relate to pain…there is a difference between pain & suffering…when we resist pain instead of embracing it & seeing its root cause we suffer, when we embrace our pain & use it as a means to wake up, and open our hearts to others thru compassion, then we change our habits of owning the pain as if it was ours … exclusively…

We may ask what is actually feeling pain?…and we let go of our grasping to a limited self & use the pain as a way to practice generating the wish that all beings be free from suffering..we cannot prevent or stop pain from arising as long as we are in a human body, but we can stop suffering. Over time , it can become automatic to generate compassion for others whenever pain arises, suffering is transformed

George at 12:05pm March 24
I believe it to be an intrinsic component of life and like life there are various stages to experience and progress through. IE the first stage would be the experiencing of a certain form of suffering. The second stage would be the awareness of that suffering. The third would be an attempt at alleviating that suffering. The fourth would be learning… Read More from the mistakes if the attempt to alleviate the suffering failed and the fifth to try again and so on. The alleviation and hopeful liberation from suffering has to be progressive or there is no point, nothing achieved in the long run. I think Buddha understood this need for a cyclical awareness and development of knowledge/skills to deal with the difficulties of existence. Hence why he gave us the Middle Path. It iss possible to end suffer but the road must be traveled to arrive at that destination. How long it take you to get there is entirely up to yourself.

Peace, Geo

Scott  at 12:36pm March 24
Suffering comes from attachment. Awakening from the illusion of permanence relieves us of attachment, thus ends suffering. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Kevin  at 12:40pm March 24
For how long?

Jason at 1:13pm March 24
only if the ego dies and consciousness lives.

Amanda  at 1:42pm March 24 via Facebook Mobile
the experience of suffering, knowing the suffering of others, and the desire to end it are all integral parts of human nature, equal with concepts like love and joy. All will exist in some form as long as humans have a frontal lobe.

Deborah  at 1:52pm March 24
oh you please keep searching we will find the truth it has been with us the whole time right in our front pocket…i am suffering now so this is good to read…I too am working on this. love you

Erik  at 2:23pm March 24
Great question, thanks for sparking the discussion. So here’s my understanding of Buddha’s answer.

Sure it is possible to end all suffering, completely and forever! But first we need to know what suffering is and then we need to know what causes suffering.

Beyond this, I couldn’t fit my response in this little window so I put the rest of it in a Note on my profile. Please feel free to read the rest there. … Read More

May all beings be free from suffering and Negative Thinking – may all beings have happiness and Positive Thinking.

And thanks again,
Namo Buddha ya

Michael  at 2:38pm March 24
We are here to end suffering. If ending suffering is more important than anything, we will end suffering. If ending suffering is not more important than anything, we will not end suffering. If I am choosing suffering, it is because I am choosing something over ending suffering. We are not here to create ideas and beliefs. We are here to pay attention. We are here to use everything in our experience to see how we cause ourselves to suffer so we can drop that and end suffering.

Gassho

Jaywing  at 5:44pm March 24
Suffering is intregal to growth and to wisdom. Without it you have neither — to deny it, illusion.

Christopher  at 6:13pm March 24
Some suffering seems optional. Before anyone goes nuts let me explain. I feel pain ..emotional,spiritual, mental…but to wallow in it …suffering…I don’t know on the other hand even when I lived onthe streets I saw how these children found beauty in the simpliest things.. and joy. I’ve seen people dying of cancer that find peace. I think … Read Moreas far as suffering as a whole..people living on the streets in war torn areas, in poverty ..it’s up to us to do what we can but it’s the act of doing to try and stop suffering that’s important…just a thought

Tasha  at 6:42pm March 24
Nope. As long as you are in a human body- suffering – physical or emotional will happen. No one or animal is exempt from this.

Larie at 10:38pm March 24
My personal suffering has diminished/ceased when I live in the NOW. Living in the NOW happens (for me, today) when I practice and experience disidentification from the mind (which causes the suffering, mostly due to resistance to what IS).

Darren Littlejohn at 11:17pm March 24
Well said Larie.

Darren Littlejohn Asked the Question:

What is happiness? Is total happiness possible? How? How not? One comment per person please.

Marie Lascombes at 2:47am March 25
yes total happiness is possible if intellectual property rights are applied. Then total truth can be brought forth.

Dejahu at 2:49am March 25
who wakes up?
no chance to know before the dawn has kissed the sky,
I can never forget,
just think i do!
waves of grief,
longing for longing!
how crazy that silver moon.
she echoes through the grass.

Everywhere i turn she sings, come home!
my sweet she cries, i never die.
i turn away embarrassed by love.
dont hide from me, she prays, dont run away!

But surely, i say,
if i open this wrapped chamber of beating heart any more,
there’ll be nothing left,
nothing anywhere.

How beautiful she cries,
her tears wrapped around that raggedy hair,
look she says, can you see me in the glades and valleys,
i have been calling your ancient name since beginning less time.

Now, theres nowhere to hide,
my tears are those lakes,
where ancient lamas see prophecies,
and im utterly lost in love.

someone steps up from the shadows,
and calls back the moon.
unwrap the layers of time, cries Rumi,
at last i hear the wind.

Claudia at 2:50am March 25
Total happiness is possible upon realization that “happiness” does not exist, and as such cannot be sought but only (possibly eventually) found.

Carlos  at 2:55am March 25
yes, only a second in samata destroyer samsara, this is total happines, but why d’ont remember after.

Jacob  at 3:19am March 25
Happiness is a matter of perception, and, what you decide will influence this perception. I think total happiness is possible, but, you must be willing to open your mind to such a possibility.

Ngawang at 3:24am March 25
Since we routinely wish it for all sentient beings, I would certainly hope it is possible

Mauro at 5:26am March 25
When I look the Master i know it’s possible. That’s why I follow Him and what He teach.

Ben  at 6:00am March 25
It should be called ‘happenness’ because it happens. We can enjoy happiness while we have it, even nurture ourselves and our environment to make its occurrence more likely. But to grasp happiness tightly so it cannot flee or to accept it only if it is total is to ensure that it will be the rarest of treasures.

Edward  at 6:14am March 25
Happiness is the maximum agreement between reality and desire.

Cyndi  at 6:38am March 25
“The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness.” ~ William Saroyan (Just a thought….)

Margarita at 6:39am March 25
Total happiness is possible. It’s a stream of love and joy in your blood. It does happen just like that, without any “if” and nothing is changed in your reality. Happiness is a feeling, not a concept. It happens and then goes away since nothing is permanent in this world. But at some point it comes back!!! :)

Amanda  at 8:29am March 25
At the core, happiness is a decision.
It is not a right, goal, quest, gift, gene, obligation, achievement, mood, or any of these other things.
Achieving it is possible.

Jess  at 8:34am March 25
If you can say anything about this, you have already overshot the mark. Oh shit, I did it. Ack, I’m still doing it!

George at 10:10am March 25
The absence of discontent and the presence of contentment. Total happiness may be possible but I would think that the individual must first obtain a certain degree of self awareness and awareness of the world that they inhabit so that they can recognize discontentment and contentment. Then with this they should achieve personal enlightenment. With enlightenment we can aid others and that will multiply the contentment present in oneself and the environment one occupies.

Maureen Mead at 10:31am March 25 via Facebook Mobile
Total happiness is possible, as is total sadness. Both are fleeting and I work not to hang on to either because too nuch of either makes me drink. I like George’s comments. Contentment is much more attainable and sustainable.

Joe  at 11:22am March 25
When people talk about “happiness” they almost always convey a sense of sufficiency and closure.–in a word, comfort. However, this never really rang true for me. I suppose there is no better way to describe “happiness” though: that sense that things are alright, in their place, as they should be.

What is lacking here is precisely that sense …that “something is missing,” and our daily attempts to cover that up get us caught in fantasies that may implode or or lead us into the unexpected. Make no mistake though, these fantasies are the very stuff of happiness: they bring closure and at the same time are an index of the impossibility of such closure.

This openness we encounter, which we shouldn’t forget is the source of anxiety and confusion, is “total happiness.” To this end, “total happiness” is possible, if not necessary, but is nothing like “total comfort.”

Jason  at 12:35pm March 25
Happiness is a wish and a pursuit. It is not possible because it does not exist. All life is suffering, the opposite of happiness.

Kevin  at 1:23pm March 25
For me, happiness is ‘now’; to live in balance: future/past; attachment/avoidance. Keeping it simple: Ice Cream; hearing the ‘perfect’ song; seeing love; the bus arriving; a stranger’s smile!

My happiness is sure total in those moments; If by ‘total’ you mean forever, you’ll have to ask me when I reach forever.

Darryl at 2:45pm March 25
Happiness is a collective term, not just one thing

The heartwish of all beings is to be happy & not suffer

Our definition of happiness is often seen thru a distorted heartwish & we engage in seeking pleasure mistaking it for happiness. The pleasure is merely a temporary refuge from the underlying suffering that is always there, & the more we indulge the more discontentment arises, no lasting satisfaction, coz of our ignorance & habit.Inner freedom & balance give rise to inner peace & contentment…it can arise from seeing clearly the deep nature of suffering & its causes & the nature of happiness itself

Engaging in a practice & method to cut the root causes of suffering while developing one’s inner qualities to their fullest potential ..

We direct & focus the heartwish to be happy & work to help others develop their fullest potential thru wisdom & compassion , the two wings that flies one to liberation.. happiness is also a by product of helping others thru this method

Scotty at 6:11pm March 25
I’m sure total happiness is possible, BUT, what is total happiness? night night bro…..xox

About

New book release: The Power of Vow: Everyday Tools for Healing - http://thepowerofvow.com Also read The 12 Step Buddhist by Darren Littlejohn (Atria\Beyond Words 2009).