Dukkha. Sarvam Dukham.
This is the first of the four Noble Truths, offered by the Buddha, as he agrees to share the insight experienced through his full enlightenment.
« All is suffering ». Everything that makes our experiences is suffering. The situation, as it seems to be conceived by the Buddha, does not open onto anything vaguely resembling a way out. Maybe it would be worth lingering around this truth for a while. Let’s consider it from a slightly deeper perspective. Suffering is everywhere. There is no place where suffering is not. No place without suffering….that we can access….so far. Non-suffering, Moksha, Liberation, is still out of reach.
The seamless landscape between suffering and some other place makes our experience on earth so difficult to transcend. We are overwhelmed, drowned in suffering.
Where can we find a place to stand ? Isn’t there a rock on which we can climb out of suffering so as to ‘contemplate’ it ?
This non-awareness is the very condition enabling us to permanently bathe in our suffering. The lack of perspective prevents us from realizing our experience is one of suffering. In Buddhism, they call this unawareness ‘ignorance’. This is what Jesus alludes to when he asks his Father for forgiveness on behalf of the people causing him such turmoil. These men are jailed in the realm of suffering, totally blinded to the existence of a possibility not to suffer: ‘Forgive them Father for they don’t know what they do’.
Within this realm, the individual, does not perceive his best interest is to get out of these mental mechanisms. He is still maneuvered by them and has been unable to take a step back to notice he was headed to failure. Or worse, that he is programming his own return in this realm for a free ride, further densifying his own (un)reality.
In default mode, suffering is not perceived a such. It can never be as long as it is everywhere and constitutes our whole inner and outer environment.
A person who is born, grows up and spends all of his existence in the gray of a concrete building neighborhood can never have the slightest idea of what a prairie green may look like. All the books talking about the color green, all the people coming from outside of this concrete neighborhood, can never really teach anything about green fields to this person…
If this individual lives in a time and space where the color gray is socially praised, he will start talking about it as well. He will even be able to convince some people of the beauty of this color and the importance to know about it. In any case, he will never know anything about the green of grass. Sarvam Dukham.
It is possible for a practitioner to sit on a meditation cushion and to observe his mental mechanisms as they unfold and come back for hours and hours, until he reaches this conclusion: The mind does not lead anywhere. Therefore, it is not in my interest to keep following it.
The most important part of this statement is not the term « interest », which, without any semantic loss, can be replaced by « nature ». What matters is the origin of such an assessment. When we observe the extent of the suffering, The field of suffering is being perceived.
If there ever is anybody to observe how useless these processes are, it means there has been a dent in the omnipresence of grayness. Seeds of grass have been sown.
There is a place from which we notice that » All is suffering ». So when we say ‘all is suffering’,’Sarvam Dukham« , it is the beginning of the end of suffering. The wheel of Dharma has started to spin.
We are standing far from the usual reproach made to Buddhism in general, and more specifically to this first Truth, i.e., pessimism.. Subtly, deeply, we can look through and see through, look beyond this seemingly gloomy assertion of Sarvam Dukham, we can glimpse at the whole Path offered by the Buddha.
He who hears about it or repeats it, can never know the Path. He who stops to appreciate the blade of grass growing amidst the concrete ground, can hardly refrain a smile, shining from the infinite joy he feels.