Thursday, May 24, 2012

Can Suffering be my Teacher? (video)

CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Amber Dorrian, Pfc. Sandoval, Wisdom Quarterly

One of the Wisdom Quarterly's editors whom we shall call "Powerpuff" -- although her real name is Ashley Wells of 32A Milton Avenue, Hounslow, Middlesex -- is nonplussed after a break up. And "nonplussed" is putting it mildly.
Powerpuff, it doesn't help matters to only date "rebels," with or without a cause, even if they make your heart go dum dum ditty.

Eckhart Tolle notes that suffering is "most people's only spiritual teacher."
Powerpuff can't be reasoned with. She can't smile. She can't keep her chin up. Yet she knows it's all counterproductive. It neither gets her back the lost relationship nor does it get her any closer to nirvana, the "end of all suffering."
So in the hopes that someone will reach out to us when we can't hear it, knowing that later we will be able to, here are words for the dying and heartbroken. And we don't want Powerpuff to turn into Lady Rizo.

We've all been there. And when she and we come to our senses, it would be good to consider what the Buddha had to say about it. Buddhism only teaches TWO things -- dukkha and nirvana, suffering and the complete cessation of suffering.
So what is thing called "suffering" or disappointment?

"This is the Noble Truth of Suffering: Birth is suffering; aging is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; being connected with the unloved is suffering; being separated from the loved is suffering; not getting what we want is suffering. In short, the Five Aggregates of Clinging are suffering" (SN 56.11).
It turns out that in his final discourse, using his last breath, he summed up what he had been teaching for decades:

Last Days of the Buddha
DN 16 (excerpt), Wisdom Quarterly, based on Sr. Vajira and Francis Story translation
Ananda and others cried (
61. Then the Buddha entered the hall, sat down, and exhorted the disciples: "O practitioners, I say to you that these teachings of which I have direct knowledge and which I have made known to you -- these you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice, that the supreme life may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of devas and humans.
62. "And what are these teachings? They are the:
  1. Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  2. Four Right Efforts
  3. Four Bases of Psychic Power
  4. Five Faculties
  5. Five Powers
  6. Seven Factors of Enlightenment
  7. Noble Eightfold Path. 
[Together these are collectively referred to as the 37 Requisites of Enlightenment or bodhipakkhiya-dhamma. See also What is the ennobling practice in Buddhism? and Easy Buddhist Lists (chart).]
63. Then the Buddha said: "Practitioners, I say to you: All conditioned things are hurtling towards destruction. Strive with diligence. The time of the Tathagata's final nirvana is near. Three months hence the Tathagata will utterly pass away."
64. Having spoken these words, the Happy One, the Teacher added:
My years are now full ripe.
The life span left is short. 
Departing, I go from you, relying on no other.
Be diligent, then, O practitioners!
Be mindful and of virtue pure!
With steady resolve, guard the mind/heart! 
Who untiringly pursues the Dharma and the Discipline
Will go beyond the round of births and make an end of all suffering.
Is it enough of the Buddha says so? Does it help if a Scandinavian pop star echoes the sentiment? Nina Persson (famous for singing the lyric "Love me, love me, say that you love me. Fool me, fool me...) says:

The Cardigans
How I always memorize
every single misery
and I seem to glorify
everything inside of me

and The Hero never dies
if The Lover hides
between the sheets
there's no escape
cause you can't sleep
and then you'll see
you're just like me

That's what you call a waste of time!
I'll be waiting down the line
that's what you call a waste of time
waiting for your Valentine
that's what you call a waste of time
I know where you hero hides
that's why you don't sleep tonight
that's what I call
That's what you call
That's what I call life

with a hero in the past
you hang on to history
such a loss will always last
and there's no recovery

And The Hero never dies
if The Lover hides between the sheets
There's no escape cause you can't sleep
And then you'll see you're just like me...

That's what you call a waste of time
I'll be waiting down the line
That's what you call a waste of time
waiting for your Valentine
That's what you call a waste of time...

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