Suffering should be welcomed - Ajahn Sumedho
"In the First Noble Truth, the Buddha proclaimed that 'there is dukkha (suffering).' It is put into the context of a 'Noble Truth' rather than a dismal reality. If we look at it as a dismal reality, what happens? 'Life is just suffering, it's all just suffering. You get old, you get sick and then die. You have to lose all your friends: "All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will become otherwise, will become separated from me." That's all it's about; it's just dukkha from beginning to end'. There's nothing noble in that, is there? It's just pessimistic and depressing seeing it in terms of, 'I don't like it. I don't want suffering. What a bad joke God played on us creating this mess. And me being born in this mess, to live just to get old. What am I living for? Just to get old, get sick and die'. Of course, that's very depressing. That's not a Noble Truth. You're creating a problem around the way things are. With the Noble Truth, 'there is suffering,' the advice to deal with this suffering is to welcome it, to understand it, to open to it, to admit it, to begin to notice it and accept it. It's a willingness to embrace and learn from that which we don't like and don't want - the pain and the irritation, whether it's physical, mental or emotional.
To understand suffering is to open to it. We say, 'We understand suffering because it's...' We rationalise it, but that's not understanding. It's in welcoming the suffering that we are experiencing - our frustration, despair, pain, irritation, boredom, fear and desires - just welcoming, opening, accepting. Then this is a Noble Truth, isn't it? Our humanity then is being noble; it's an ariyan truth. This word ariya means 'noble'. What is this English word 'noble'? It's a kind of grand quality; it rises up. If you're noble, you rise up to things. You don't just say 'Oh, life is misery and I want to hide away from it. I can't bear it'. There's nothing noble in that; or in blaming - 'God, why did you create this mess? It's your fault,' if you're brought up as a Christian. I used to feel furious with God. I remember as a child thinking that if I were God I wouldn't have created pain. You fall down and hurt yourself and you think, 'Why does God allow this? Why did He create a realm where there is so much pain?' My mother could never answer that question very well, because the pain was seen as something wrong. Or is pain a Noble Truth? Is loss, separation, all these experiences that we all have to have in this human realm, a Noble Truth? Seeing it in terms of a Noble Truth, rather than complaining and blaming, this is what I'm pointing to.
We can look at things in different ways. We can choose. The programme from the culture and family that we're born into might not be a very good programme. Sometimes it is, but still it's limited. Now we have this opportunity to explore, to investigate reality, to know it in a direct way.
Enlightenment is not something remote and impossible."
Full teaching: Suffering should be welcomed - Luang Por Sumedho