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.
Four Noble Truths also called Noble Realities in modern versions
Suffering & its causes exist in life, whatever we do. This is not doom& gloom, just reality.
Suffering arises from 1) desire/ graving, 2) hatred/aversion and 3) Ignorance, which means illusions and delusions. Attachment to one of them enhances suffering.
Suffering ceases when ego-driven attachments cease or are under control. This is Nirvana.
Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the so-called “Eight fold Path”
Suffering and its causes exist and cannot be prevented.
This is not a pessimistic & hopelessness point of view. It is reality since life is what it is, consisting of many good stuff but also of suffering, dissatisfaction and unhappiness. No one is exempt from suffering but we can deal with it in a more efficient way.
This suffering is called Dukkha but Dukkha has a far broader meaning: anything that we don’t like, oppose, resent and fight against. Human nature and the world you live in are imperfect.
During our lifetime, we have to endure not only physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and death but mainly emotional pain such as anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, etc.
2500 BCE ago Siddhartha Gautama aka “the Buddha =the awakened one” taught in the North East of India during 50 years following 6 years intensive mindfulness meditation practice trying to understand human suffering. Suffering, its causes and how to end it form became the core of his verbal teaching. Explaining how to control our ego-driven mind as our main source of suffering, he could be considered to be one of the first psychotherapists. He was just a human being without any divine power, w/o being neither a messiah nor a prophet. Also, he did not want to set up a new religion from Hinduism and was always asking to be challenged. Like for many religions, Buddhism became, later, a religion but, still, remained w/o hierarchy except few branches such as Tibetan. There are 3 Buddhist schools. Zen (Japanese word for meditation) is a school of Buddhism born in China in ~ 500CE following the influence of Confucianism and Taoism. Zen is aiming more at day-to-day mindful-based daily life and formal meditation practice rather than the rigid studies of the Buddhist scriptures / canons called Sutra (over 5,000!). Because of its simplicity and down-to earth approach, Zen is one of the worldwide spiritual activities with the fastest growth. Especially in developing countries.
“Meditation doesn’t remove pain, unhappiness, dissatisfaction or alleviate the negative energy flowing through your body and the world. Contrary to what we read, Meditation does not bring happiness.
However, with discipline and steady practice, Meditation will relieve stress, anxiety and suffering, not by changing our outer environment that we cannot control but by turning our awareness inward to discover our genuine inner peace and make peace with ourselves and others.
The aim is not to become a super hero, a saint, nor to transcend our flaws, feelings of pain and distress. Instead, it is :
To control our restless ego-driven monkey mind main source of our “suffering”
To open our hearts and minds to others,
To accept our emotions as they come in any given moment even if these feelings are very hard to deal with ” . This is part of serenity