Wednesday, March 24, 2010

If you suffer physical pain, go see a doctor.

Question (Unedited):

The first noble truth speaks of suffering and Buddhism is based on logic. But what if the suffering of an individual is an actual physical pain? How could Buddhism help?

Hi M,

Welcome back.

The Buddha pointed out universal truths. In fact we need not discuss Buddhism. It is Universal Truth that is relevent. The truth of this existence, if we care to open our minds and our eyes to observe, is that unsatisfactoriness is all pervasive. It cuts through the whole spectrum of life. Everywhere we look, we see problems...from petty squabbles, sickness, to senseless killings. In the animal kingdom we see the scenario of the survival of the fittest in its gross manifestation. In human kind we see the endless confrontations amongst nations, amongst different beliefs, different races, down to family disputes. This is the hopeless nature of the world which the Buddha advised us to open our eyes to see and realize. This is the first Noble Truth. The third Noble Truth states that there is a way out of this vicious cycle of birth, sickness, old age, and death. The Buddha's notion of this release from this suffering is not to exist in this unwholesome world. The Buddha did not prescribe for us to cure our pain while in this world. So long as we exist in this world we will be subject to this pain (dukkha). If we want to find release and salvation, the only way is not to exist in this world. It is like saying that the hospital is for the sick. The person is sick; that's why he is in hospital. The world is like the hospital. If the person is healthy, he does not need to be in the hospital. Likewise if a person knows how to cultivate his mind to the level of perfection, he will not be reborn in this world. He is a free from further suffering. You can treat it as a self-fulfilling prophesy. We are here to suffer because we have created conditions to "sentence" ourselves to suffer in this world.

Buddhism looks into the larger picture of existence, not merely the physical pain. Buddhism teaches us to SEE this truth of unsatisfactoriness which we cannot change so long as we are here, because it is the nature of this world to suffer. Once we can realize this truth, half of our pain and problems is resolved because we can now bear with the realities of existence, which is pain and sorrow. In the meantime if we have physical pain, we can go see a doctor!

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