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In A More Somber Place




We had a discussion at the Dharma center about one of the major themes of Buddhism - suffering. After all that was the first noble truth that the Buddha taught - that all of life is, roughly translated, suffering. It is unsatisfactory. This is a law of nature.


There was a large group on Sunday - in fact the largest I have ever seen - about 30 people crammed into the room where at the end there were people out in the hall. Many very intelligent and interesting remarks from the people there. All in all, one of the best meetings ever.


The group leader asked if any of is didn't have a story of suffering and no hands went up. One person said they would more likely be out on the beach (this is S. Florida) than at the Dharma Center if they had not had an experience of suffering. I think the same goes for me. I am quite intimately acquainted with it in various forms, mostly mental, but sometimes physical, like everyone else with a human body over 50 years old.


The trick is to somehow transform this suffering into, dare I say, joy. Believe me, folks, I am not there yet.


That would be nirvana, a state without suffering. Someone in the group was so bold as to state that she wanted to achieve enlightenment within this lifetime. I would not presume to have such an ambition. This woman was probably around my age - folks, we don't have that much time left - not that enlightenment takes time. I am not sure what it will take to transform this world into a pure land. I am not that advanced yet.


To be honest, at this time in my life I am mostly bone tired and don't sleep very well (probably the reason). I never had this problem when I was younger. All I seem to dream about is the office and the anxiety is probably as great as ever due to my precarious job situation. Suffering is there, that is a fact.



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