SUFFERING: “NOW & ZEN/THEN”
Zen Buddhism teaching has been criticized for putting too much emphasis on suffering meaning that everything that has a negative impact either physically or mentally.
The word suffering is a poor translation. The Sanskrit word “Dukkha” means not only physical and mental pain but also any negative feelings such as unhappiness, dissatisfaction, anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, impatience, stress, etc. The sources of suffering are numerous but most of them are coming from the inside that is our ego-driven mind – desire, hatred and illusion). Few causes are from and few from the outside.
The Teaching of the Buddha 2,500 years ago was only aimed to explore causes of suffering and looking at approaches to deal with it in a constructive non emotional ways, not to stop it completely which is impossible.
Zen mindfulness practice will change your approach to suffering. Instead of trying to avoid your suffering at, to fight or resist against it, you learn to hold it in your hands.
It means to accept it as it is w/o being defeatist, resigned or coward. Acceptance will cool down your emotional reactions.
This practice may not change the causes of your suffering nor its frequency but it will change your perspective in relation to it.
Struggling permanently with 1) “ I want this or I don’t want that”, 2) “I believe in this or don’t believe
in that”, 3) Questioning the “ why, when, how, where, whom” 4) Travelling constantly in a dreaming state in the fictional past and future as an escape to the current moment , 5) and finally our illusions* are the main sources of our self-induced suffering.
This is why being mindful to the current moment that is now is so powerful since being in the moment
is forcing the mind to do what you are asking him rather than having the mind controlling you.
Beside, experiencing the NOW is the only time where we are alive.
Apart few exceptions, being in the NOW is usually not very attractive nor exciting since it is not a dreaming state: No desire, no hatred, no illusion*, no expectation, no anxiety, no anger, no fear,
no “I want- don’t want, like don’t like “, just the routine and repetitive stuff of the moment.
However, when you are mindfully experiencing the NOW, even for a short period of time, you are creating a short in your mind circuits since it has to pay attention to what is currently existing and real such as what you do, to your 5 senses, your body and your environment.
The following approaches are the main ingredients to practice and achieve a stable state of serenity:
Learning to be mindful that is paying attention w/o judgments and decision on something.
1)Mindful to the current moment that is experiencing genuine reality from our body, 5 senses, what we are doing and our environment. Being in the NOW will short our neural circuits at least for a short period of time.
2)Mindful to our emotional mind such as desires, hatred and illusions*and their impacts on our body .
This is the first step before accepting them. By accepting them, the emotional mind will cool off.
Suffering will fade away as long as your practice is maintained.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix.
*Illusions are many: we are in control, things are permanent, thoughts are real, each of us is an unique, independent and separate entity, etc…