Where Suffering Cooks UP
Pot & Lid by FLY
Although Pandora’s box was really a jar, when she, who was made of clay, took off the the lid out came all the evils and troubles for the world. We do the same thing. When we open the My, Me, Mine, I, letting the ego escape from the Pot we let all our troubles out. This pot is our very own version of a Pandora’s box. Except in this case, we, you and me take off the lid and let out the “I” (the me, my, mine stuff ) which is the source of all our troubles. Our pot is full of stuff that we’ve cooked-up. It’s hard to believe, I know but please read on. It’s actually good news for the soul which makes it good news for our lives.
In Buddhism we say, there is a way to end suffering which is a big attraction for all of us. Most of us want to end our suffering as well as help others do the same. But instead of following the teachings of our ancient masters we look into the world for the cause and the relief rather than follow the old teachings.
That’s our first error. We are looking for the hope of help in the wrong place. Often, for years we look in the wrong direction. We think someone or something will provide what we need. Only to find out we continue to suffer.
What do we do?
What we need to do is look at where suffering begins. Stop for a moment and bring up some dissatisfaction in your life. Once you have it in mind, ask where did this suffering begin? Many of us look at the someones and things in life as the cause of dissatisfaction. Either someone is missing or someone is doing something we don’t like. It’s true for things as well. Something is missing or something isn’t quite right. This cycle of looking outward is ingrained by years and years of habit. Years of looking in the wrong direction. If dissatisfaction does not begin with someone else or some thing in the world, where does it begin?
It begins in the My, Me, Mine, I Pot. It is in this pot, dissatisfaction begins. Yes, YOU and I are the cause of suffering.
Much like Pandora’s box, we open the lid of our desires, judgments, measures, and release the troubles into our life. Hard to believe, I know. We thought our suffering was coming from our external environment. Check it out for yourself.
Where does suffering start for you? Isn’t it when you start thinking and talking and believing what you want or don’t want? Isn’t it true that you begin by telling yourself how unhappy you are with the things and people of life? Something or someone is too much or not enough. Isn’t this what we do?
The beginning of the realization of suffering is when “I” begins to understand that the My, Me – Mine – I Pot is not substantial, but is the cauldron of suffering. We all say “I” am suffering. See for yourself. Don’t you say, “I” am suffering. You may point to your body and say ME, this ME is where suffering is. We believe it, don’t we? We see our “I” as the one who is suffering; not realizing it is the cause of suffering. It is a realization to see this truth.
We think for a very long time suffering comes from the outside. In many ways, the material world trains us to think dissatisfaction comes from the stuff of the external world. And for a very long time we try to change the people and things of our life in order to make it satisfactory. The reason for this Sisyphean approach is ignorance. Ignorance of where to look for the end to suffering. WE keep trying to rearrange our outer world to end suffering. It is a blindness (a terrible stupidity) that brings along with it pride and hate. We are unable to see that we cause suffering when we say “I.” When we say whatever is happening is happening to ME. We react to whatever it is in many different ways. All manner of suffering comes when we hold onto the “I” and experience everything as happening to ME (the “I”). We, unfortunately, will continue to roll that stupid rock until we see otherwise.
At this point you may think what I am saying is stupid, just plain nonsense, but even if you say that it is stupid I think you will not deny it is “I” that suffers. Whatever the suffering is, it is ME or Mine or MY suffering. It is ”I” that experiences suffering. Yes, I think you can see that. I hope you can. You agree it is “I” that suffers. Not someone else. If I told you your suffering belongs to someone else, you know that is not true. You may want to blame someone else for your suffering, but that is not true either. Things outside of “I” are triggers, but not the cause of suffering. “I” the clinging identification of “I” is the cause. Look closely in your “I”. Isn’t it true? “I” suffer because “I” want something to be different than IT is. I want existence itself to be different and “I” make great effort to change existence for the sake of “I.” Can you see that?
When the lid is off the My, Me – Mine – I Pot, we suffer. It’s when we take things and others personally. Personally means according to me, the “I.”
Isn’t it true that we say things such as “If I go here, I will feel less suffering. If I go there, I will feel less suffering. If I get this thing, I will be free of suffering. If I get rid of that thing, I will be free of suffering.” The list of “I desires” is endless. What is common in all these situations of suffering is “I”….me, my, mine. The contents (made up by the way) of the pot is where to look to find liberation.
Suffering starts with “I” and ends when “I” is forgotten.
How else could it be?
So it is a very useful contemplation to ask who is this “I” who starts up suffering. Who is this “I” where suffering begins and lives and continues in the oceans of samsara?
To help a little, consider what you say about “I”…..I am in trouble. I am sick of this. I hate that. I don’t want any part of this. I want that instead. I am happy about that. I want. I hate. I need. Oh just see how the “I” is the start to all the waters swirling around that brings up all kinds of suffering…..fear, worry, frustration, irritation, aggravation, intoxication, and on and on. It boils down to seeing “I” as the center of inadequacy and adequacy.
The “I” imagines the past and the future as allies of suffering in the mind and strengthens the “I” position with wishful thinking and worries about outcome.
Are you able to stop the “I”?
If not, the work is clear. Study your “I.”
In Zen Buddhism we STOP suffering by looking into “I”
We must begin by looking into “I”
And when we see and know the “I” as a constructed carrier of ignorance and the cause of suffering, we begin the journey to willingly forget the old built “I” structures. We take the “I” off the throne.
How do we do it?
We forget the “I.”
And when we forget the “I”
The wheel of wandering in suffering ends.
BUT we don’t imagine what forgetting the “I” looks like or how it should be. NO that is more of the “I”
We GET OFF the Wheel of birth and death; we don’t polish it.
STOP the spin and GET OFF.
Study the “I” of who you think you are.
And forget it. Drop it. And do this over and over again.
Seek liberation from the “I” (me, my,mine) by relinquishing the “I” because it is there where suffering arises. Get away from the ideas of who you are. Can you do that? Or are you attached to all those ideas of “I”
Do you say stuff like “I am this type of person.” OR “I can’t help being like that… this is who I am.”
I am this, not that. I am weak here and better there. I am a woman. I am a man. I am a good person. I am a bad person. I am ok. I am — I am — I am. The suffering continues with this connection to “I” NO matter what the attachment is.
Special? Forgotten? Struggling? Blah Blah Blah
You must be able to let go of the ideas of “I.” Can you do that?
You can do it in one quick moment. Give up the “I”
All the ideas go away when you give up the “I”
But now you may feel afraid. WHO will “I” be if “I” give up this “I”
That is a ghost trying to get the “I” to go after something. And when we do that we continue to suffer.
It is to let it go. KAPUT!
It is a bit like a “natural” burial. A “natural” burial is where the “I” dies and is not embalmed. There is no casket. The “I” is gathered up and placed in a pot and put into the ground immediately. Relinquished. It is very quick. POOF!
THE FIRST STEP IS TO ASK AND STUDY THIS QUESTION:
Where does suffering come from?
If you say it comes from the external world, keep asking the question. Study it close-up in your life. Find out for yourself.
Author: FaShi Lao Yue
ZATMA is not a blog. If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching, please contact the editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org