Toward ultimate happiness (Freedom from suffering life!)
Happiness would be the ultimate goal for everybody. However, it seems not possible to achieve a happy life forever. In this short article, we will discuss about ‘What is the origin of suffering?’ and ‘How to get ultimate happiness in our life?’
Origin of suffering life
There have been many different explanations about the origin of suffering in life. It seems the best one is from Buddha’s words. In short, Buddha explained that suffering starts from our mind. This is because our mind is the result of a combination of emotions and thoughts. The reason that the mind is the basis of a suffering life is because it is built on emotions. It is well accepted that if someone is emotionally trapped, the person would have a lower chance to make logical decisions. Thus, it is clear that the origin of suffering life is from our mind. To make this point clearer, let’s take a look at following case. Let’s say you are meeting with a business partner to be (named T). Based on one of your friends who knows T, T is a person who doesn’t show any respect to his business partner. Your friend also informed you that T shows up to the meeting about 20 minutes late on purpose to make his partner upset thus, he gets an advantage out of the situation. But you made an appointment with him anyway and went to the meeting place.
1st case: You are on time but as expected, T doesn’t show up on time. As time goes on, you are getting angry. As time goes, you are getting angrier and angrier. When T finally shows up, you start to express your emotion of how upset you are and try to make him feel guilty for being late.
- From the case above, it is clear that you have your reason to be upset. But when you consider the consequences, you acted exactly as T expected. This means that you are caught in T’s trap. In other words, T started boiling the water to cook you and you jumped into the boiling water by yourself.
2nd case: This time, you have been waiting for 15 minutes but you are so upset to wait any longer. So, you leave the place. But you are getting too angry from the thoughts that T disrespected you. So you call him to show how upset you are. T doesn’t answer your phone and you get angrier so you left a nasty message. You also send text message to show him how he disrespected you. After a few hours, you get a phone call from your friend. Your friend tells you that T is in emergency room because he was rushing to get to the meeting with you on time.
- This time you will have hard time to recover from the damage you made and it will take some time to resolve this situation. You will feel like you are in the worst of the worst situation that you can think of.
It seems both cases look very different. However, one thing is clear that you will be suffering from the situation. These situations are extreme examples. However, our life is full of situations like these. It is just a matter of how bad they are. As you might start noticing, this is the source of suffering in life – the situations that you either fall into traps or misunderstand and act before clarifying the situation. Then, can we prevent these from happening and can there be any solution to the suffering life?
Freedom from suffering life
As discussed above, we are trapped by many different situations and because of the situations we are in, our life is somewhat troublesome. Why? Because we judge each situation before we understand it. In other words, we are deciding something with our own judgment before something happens. Since the judgment was made, we don’t try to see the situation from a distance. Let’s go back to the 1st case above. This time, you didn’t get mad but you tried to understand the situation so when you saw T, you simply asked why he was late. There is one condition in this approach. When you ask a question like this, you shouldn’t have your own judgment made. Whatever answer you get from T, you simply accept it. In this way, you are not falling in to T’s trap and you don’t have to get upset. This approach seems to be too simple to be a solution and you would ask a question like this – ‘Does this approach have any advantage other than just making me feel better?’ The answer is ‘YES!’ In fact, asking questions without any judgment are far more powerful than ‘YES!’ Let’s take another look at the 1st case. You didn’t get upset when T showed up late but you simply asked why he was late. He would give you some answer which is not trustable enough. However, you accepted what he said and moved on to the next topic. Now, let’s assume that T really intended to make you upset by coming late. In other words, T was ready to fight with you and armed with all sort of weapons. He used his first one (making you upset by coming late) but since you didn’t take it as a weapon (asking questions without judgment), the weapon is useless. This means that his first plan failed. As meeting goes on and you kept replying by simple questions without your own judgment, T will be running out of his weapons to use thus at the end of the meeting the only thing he will have left is a shield to protect himself from your attack. But series of questions you ask without your own judgment cannot be considered as weapons thus, now the shield T put up was just heavy object for him and he had to lower it since it is useless. From this point, the decision maker would be you since T has nothing to use. Thus, T is now caught in your trap that has endless boundaries.
As the stories above show, we are living our life with our own judgment based on emotion and thoughts from the emotion (mind). This is the source of a suffering life. If we don’t decide anything other than our own life, we will be ultimately free from the suffering life. To not to decide situation as we are in, the only thing to do is to ask questions without any judgment but to simply understand the situation. When we get answers from other, we simply accept it even though it is not very convincing. In this way, we don’t fall into other people’s trap thus there is nothing to suffer from. Eventually, our life would be free from suffering. This also means that you won’t be dragged by situations around you but you will flow with the situation without any major resistance just like water. Asking questions without our own judgment is that powerful and these are the keys to the freedom from a suffering life. To add joyful life to this freedom, you will simply train yourself to think logically as explained in the article ‘the fundamental principles of education’ (see education session).