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LESSONS. Lesson 5. Part A. The End of Suffering

LESSONS. Lesson 5. Part A.

The end of suffering – when things of the world get tough to bear.


Make friends with the problems in your life.    Sarah Young

Everything comes to awaken you – but don’t take any of it personally.

Don’t claim it as yours.


Let’s begin by shouting Hallelujah!  Praise – the Dharma of the True Being. I am, as you truly are, the Dharma as heat and light are the Sun. It is the mysterious Truth of the Tathagata. Whether it is mysterious or not, it is true.


Our common human nature is to think and believe we are somebody other than the true Dharma. Sometimes we think and believe we are a miserable bum or a jealous friend or an envious boor – sometimes we think and believe we are a know-it-all or a better-than-everybody, or  smart-as-a-whip or a hungry ghost. When we look in a mirror, we believe we are that face whether beautiful or ugly, plain or outstanding. We have forgotten who we are – the True Being – conscious and capable of giving, receiving and being a gift. The list of mistaken identity is endless, but forgetting our true nature is our universal condition.

No matter what name we use, we fill in the blank of who we are with some attribute, an identity that teeters up and down in praise, blame, pleasure, pain, fame, obscurity, gain and loss. In this identity ranking, we are caught in the swamp of the ego and not on the ground of being. We all have done it. Those times we feel sorry for ourselves, when we judge and blame, blow up incensed we have not been heard or understood. Those times when we feel righteous in our injury – when we look at our wounds and can’t seem to stop the licking. This swamp is suffering.

And this status is our usual ‘rank’ – what in Zen is called the first rank. Known commonly by many names  ‘instinctual man, ‘ ‘material girl,’ ‘egotist,’ ‘selfie,’ ‘self-centered’ ‘full of pride’ – many names throughout history define this rank. Each depicting the universal nature of being caught in the ego and blown about by the worldly winds of suffering. (Praise/Blame, Pain/Pleasure, Fame/Obscurity, Gain/Loss). When we, for example, are not praised we blame – when we are acknowledged we look down, when we gain, we want to hang on – over and over it goes.

But don’t give up and fall into despair.

The first rank is not without wisdom. There is wisdom that is of the most obvious kind. The man on the street, meaning you and me, knows that everything changes. The fact that everything changes is the first suffering we experience in childhood. We lose a toy. It gets broken, We cry. We lost it. And then we want it back or at the very least a replacement. This is our human nature. It is where we all begin. And for many, it is where we remain.

But for those with dust in their eyes this knowing wisdom remains  a shock throughout life – change surprises us. The knowledge is not used to awaken, instead we use it to complain. Someone leaves us, death comes as a thief in the night – our feeling sorry for ourselves breaks in our consciousness and we are swamped. A sudden tsunami sweeps our family away – we lose our eyesight – an accident leaves us crippled – a stroke cripples. Any number of changes torment us – we see change as unfair, personal and attacking. We react from our grip on what we want. We feel compensation is owed to us. We march in the parade of thinking we deserve “better.” All of these concoctions are attempts to protect the ego from change. Impossible to do. Change is a constant and an inevitable, true principle of this realm. IN knowing this – there is wisdom.

But…because the world follows a replacement system when it comes to change, we fight against the worldly winds with all sorts of schemes and plans and try-agains – because we only know the knowledge of the first rank – everything changes – as a threat to what we want. The ego is center stage.

We need to know this wisdom without making the mistake of schemes and try-agains. All our schemes and try-agains towards the world result in the same lesson being taught – the lesson of knowing everything changes in the material world along with knowing we cannot count on the worldly things for spiritual satisfaction. Impermanence is a mark of being – of existence. When we are unable or unwilling to know this wisdom – we suffer.

This knowledge is wisdom – but alone, it is not enough for us to get out of the swamp. And getting-out-of-the-swamp is how we end suffering. In order to end suffering as Buddha and all great spiritual teachings tell us, we must STOP sinking our claws into the world and the things of the world. We switch from trying to change the worldly things and look inward and pull our claws out. This teaching is a shock.

To study impermanence requires a war house – a meek and disciplined mind that is supple and strong – to see  change as impermanent rather than personal. The wind blows where it will and no one can escape the wind. It is universal in nature – proceeds from the Source and comes to wake us up right where we are. 

There is help. It requires a choice – a decision – a change of mind to receive the changes as the Truth of the Tathagata – the mysterious mystery that it is. It is a practice to receive the changes as they truly are – change comes to mutually assist us to awaken, empty of a personal attack, empty of a personal prize. IT comes and comes and comes giving us all a chance to listen, study and know to get out of the swamp.


Humming Bird
Author: Fashi Lao Yue

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