The Top 5 Root Causes of Suffering
The pursuit of happiness is the primary purpose of human life. Everything we do, including the hard work, the sacrifices we make, and our acts of selflessness, is to get happiness ultimately.
The United States’ Declaration of Independence mentions the pursuit of happiness, along with life and liberty, as one of the “unalienable rights of humans. When we look around us, we find suffering everywhere, and it seems to be increasing with time. So what are the causes of Suffering? Why do we suffer when we aim to be happy, and our efforts are geared to that end? The reason is that often, in our pursuit of happiness, we become shortsighted and make choices or act in ways that bring us sorrow, regret and even a lifetime of guilt and repentance (this is an easy-going reason. There are more. Will start light!!!)
This happens when we violate any law out of our desire to get quick results, forgetting the divine law of karma, which says that we reap what we sow.
Almost everyone is aware of this law, then why do we sometimes act against its principles? That happens when we are under the influence of any impurity. It is impurity, in any of its forms, that lies at the root of all suffering.
Purity is the original state of the human soul, and so is a joy. Anything that violates that purity robs the soul of some of its value, which can only result in sorrow.
Consequences of Selfishness
Impurity comes in many forms. If I am acting out of selfishness, I may do things the way I want for a while, ignoring the sorrow it may be causing others, but I will have to pay the price for this moral infringement one day. Selfishness will harm my relationships, rob me of the goodwill and cooperation of others, and leave me isolated.
This selfishness can be driven by any of the vices, chiefly lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego.
Lust makes us selfish, possessive, dependent and insecure. A soul under the influence of passion loses self-respect and does not respect others. This vice robs one of purity and peace, and the empty soul seeks fulfillment in the gratification of desires, becoming a slave to the senses or the person or object of its passion.
Consequences of Anger & Greed
Similarly, anger burns the self, destroying one’s peace and powers, leading to loss of control over one’s thoughts, words and actions. Those who burn-in this fire often say or do things that they regret the rest of their lives.
Greed, similarly, makes us dishonest, self-centered, possessive, exploitative and even insensitive to the interests of others. The desire to acquire, accumulate or consume may bring temporary gratification, but one is soon looking for more of the same or something else to feel happy and fulfilled. The soul doesn’t need material possessions. Body does. That’s why everything must be in balance. Otherwise, there is suffering.
Consequences of Attachment & Ego
Attachment makes our happiness dependent on the person, place, object, idea or circumstance to which we are attached, and when any of these is taken away or changes, we experience sorrow.
Ego makes us insensitive and hurtful, soon leaving us isolated. One with ego very quickly feels slighted and is thus never in peace.
These are just some of the forms in which impurity manifests itself. Jealousy, laziness, hatred, and fear are some of the other ways in which it destroys the soul.
All these traits, one might assume, are but natural to experience in life. That is not so. We can keep ourselves free of all negative influences even while living in this world if we wish to do so. When one understands that any negativity brings suffering, it is easier to put in the necessary effort to keep oneself positive in the face of testing situations or people. One has to remember that one is doing it for one’s happiness, and not to please others.
5 Root Causes of Suffering
1. The Mental Hindrance of Desiring for Sensing
The hindrance of sensory desire is latching onto thoughts or feelings based on the pleasures of the five senses.
To overcome the hindrance of sensory desire, the meditator must use mindfulness and acknowledge the obstacle. Then they must observe the barrier and experience it fully. Once experienced fully, the meditator must contemplate the impermanence of pleasant desire. Buddhist master Ajahn Brahmavamso emphasizes the technique for letting go of concern for the body and five senses completely.
2. The Mental Hindrance of Aversion and ill-will
This involves latching onto thoughts or feelings based on hostility, anger, resentment, bitterness, etc.
III will is overcome by applying Metta, loving-kindness. When it is ill will towards a person, Metta teaches one to see more in that person than all that which hurts you, to understand why that person hurt you (often because they were hurting themselves intensely), and encourages one to put aside one’s pain to look with compassion on the other.
3. The Mental Hindrance of Lethargy and Laziness
This is characterized as a morbid state of lacking energy and desire for wholesome activity.
Sloth and torpor refer to that heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression. In meditation, it causes weak and intermittent mindfulness, which can even lead to falling asleep in meditation without even realizing it!”
4. The Mental Hindrance of Restlessness and Regret
This refers to the mind being agitated and unable to settle down.
5. The Mental Hindrance of Doubt and Uncertainty
This involves self-doubt and not truly understanding oneself. Such doubt is overcome by gathering clear instructions, having a good map so that one can recognize the subtle landmarks in the unfamiliar territory of deep meditation and so know which way to go. Doubt in one’s ability is overcome by nurturing self-confidence with a good teacher. A meditation teacher is like a coach who convinces the sports team that they can succeed.
When we become soul-conscious, the original qualities of the soul emerge and influence our thoughts, words, and actions. Regular practice of soul-consciousness strengthens these virtues, and we begin to experience more peace and joy.
Heaven, where there is no sorrow, is not a mythical place. It is a world where all souls are utterly free of impurity. Heaven is here. as much as Hell.
We can create such a world again by ridding ourselves of all the negative traits that we have used so far in the mistaken belief that they will bring us happiness. As we cleanse ourselves of the impurities that have crept into the soul, we will begin to experience what it is like to be in heaven even while living in this world.
The situations of the world and other people will not change, but our inner transformation will change the way we perceive the world, and keep us in a blissful state of mind.
Love you all guys!!! Stay on the good path!!