The Conditions of Suffering



Three Marks of Reality:  In his earliest teaching, the Buddha recognized three marks of reality (aspects of existence)

1.    The doctrine of Anicca - impermanence.  All things, including ourselves, in flux. One tries but cannot cling to anything, as all things arise and pass.

a.    Samsara is a chain -- eliminate one link, exit from the process. Weakest links: ignorance and craving.  Eliminated through meditation, learning, behavior change.

b.    Pratitya Samutpada: Dependent Arising

                                              i.     How do things come into being and continue to exist.

                                            ii.     Account for existence of the world -- Samsara: all things, including the gods individuals

                                          iii.     The Buddha taught:

When this is, that is.

This arising, that arises.

When this is not, that is not.

This ceasing, that ceases.

c.    All things are characterized by emptiness (sunyata)

                                              i.     Things are mutually conditioned thus nothing has its own nature in itself.  In other words, all things are empty.

                                            ii.     This truth is realized only in direct experience.


2.    The doctrine of Dukkha: life is pervaded by suffering

a.    blatant suffering, unsatisfactoriness, unease

3.    The doctrine of Anatman: No Self

a.    There is no permanent reality behind phenomenal reality: all is process, change.

b.    Right perception reveals that there is no permanent, underlying thing that is constant

                                              i.     Skandas: There is no self that is constant:  the individual is composed of “groups of events” (skandas): Bodily events, perceptions, feelings, dispositions, states of consciousness.  = temporary combination of such events

                                            ii.     There is transmigration but no permanent soul

                                          iii.     Nirvana: "blowing out."  Ineffable, transcendental state, ultimate.  Involves no union with God. Escapes ordinary language:

Four Noble Truths

(The Disease)

1.    Dukkha: Life is dominated by suffering: Separation from the things you love; not getting what it is you want.

a.    Unavoidable experience of things you despise: sickness, old age, death.

b.    Unsatisfactoriness, unease

2.     Tanha: The cause of suffering is desire and craving

a.    The cycle of rebirth, suffering, death, perpetuated by desire.  Clinging to the impermanent.